VLT Issue 75: Media Distribution
Although distribution has long been known as the economic linchpin of the media industries, it remains the least studied aspect of that industry, conjuring images of dour economists combing through dusty ledgers. But scholarly attention is shifting.
As recent technologies upend older distribution models, they both facilitate alternative media cultures and drive traditional stakeholders into new conflicts. Media distribution, once the invisible link between production and exhibition/reception, increasingly reveals the major struggles over cultural and economic power that have long invigorated the field. Scholars studying contemporary media have energetically responded to the implications of the rapidly transforming landscape of media distribution, where new agents reroute industrial circuits and burgeoning networks of often "illicit" circulation form. As a result, the study of distribution now encompasses a range of methods and approaches including not only economic analysis but also cultural criticism, ethnography, and geo-mapping.
The last decade's upheavals have sensitized media historians to the long-standing effects of and struggles over distribution. Scholars have re-explored historical subjects with newfound contemporary relevance, such as the emergence of copyright, film libraries, labor's attempts to intervene in licensing content, and Hollywood's analysis of its audiences. Moreover, new research tools have provided access to new sources and methods that encourage us to scrutinize received wisdom about the emergence of the commercial film industry, classical Hollywood's mass audience and easy domination of world markets, and the formation of broadcast networks, as well as the historical existence of alternative distribution networks.
Issue #75 of VLT, "Media Distribution," seeks to further address the complex effects of and determinations shaping forms of media distribution. The editors are particularly interested to bring together historical and contemporary case studies, as well as theoretical work, investigating the implications of struggles to control the conditions under which media circulates. To that end, we invite submissions that explore the economic, political, social, and aesthetic effects of media distribution.
Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:
The emergence, maintenance, and transformation of commercial distribution
Audience identification, segmentation, and marketing
Screen quotas, cultural difference, and international censors
Reformatting for new technologies and translating for foreign markets
Historical studies of noncommercial or alternative distribution networks
Infrastructures of distribution
Scales of distribution: global, regional, national, local
Subcultural networks, dispersed communities, and diasporic identities
VOD, streaming video, web television
Geo-blocking and transnational online distribution
Peer-to-peer sharing, black markets, and pirated content
Self-distribution, viral video, and social networking
Submissions should be between 8,000 and 10,000 words, formatted in Chicago style. Please submit an electronic copy of the paper, along with a one-page abstract, both saved as a Microsoft Word file. Remove any identifying information so that the submission is suitable for anonymous review. The entire essay, including block quotations and notes, should be double spaced. Quotations not in English should be accompanied by translations. Photocopies of illustrations are sufficient for initial review, but authors should be prepared to supply camera-ready photographs on request. Illustrations will be sized by the publisher. Permissions are the responsibility of the author. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to [EMAIL ADDRESS]
About the Journal
VLT is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media studies. It publishes articles and interviews written with the highest scholarly standards yet are accessible to a broad range of readers. The journal draws on a variety of theoretical and historiographic approaches from the humanities and social sciences and welcomes any effort that will help foster the ongoing processes of evaluation and negotiation in media history and criticism. While the VLT maintains its traditional commitment to the study of American film, it also expands its scope to television and other media, to adjacent institutions, and to other nations' media. The journal encourages both approaches and objects of study that have been neglected or excluded in past scholarship.
Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Texas at Austin coordinate issues in alternation, and each issue is devoted to a particular theme chosen by the graduate-student editors. VLT's Editorial Advisory Board includes such notable scholars as Charles Acland, Richard Allen, Harry Benshoff, Mark Betz, Michael Curtin, Kay Dickinson, Radhika Gajjala, Scott Higgins, Jon Kraszewski, Diane Negra, Michael Newman, Nicholas Sammond, Beretta Smith-Shomade, Jacob Smith, Jonathan Sterne, Cristina Venegas, and Michael Williams. VLT's graduate-school editors are assisted by their local faculty advisors: Mary Beltrán, Ben Brewster, Jonathan Gray, Michele Hilmes, Lea Jacobs, Derek Johnson, Vance Kepley, Charles Ramírez Berg, Thomas Schatz, and Janet Staiger.
Recent & Forthcoming in VLT
No. 72 - Useful Media: Industrial, Educational, Institutional (Fall 2013)
Patrick Feaster on the Phonograph as a business tool
Giles Taylor on military uses of early widescreen cinema
Sara Sullivan on US Steel's public relations films
Benjamin Strassfeld on The Birth of a Baby (1938) in commercial theaters
Lisa Rabin on Human Relations Films in East Harlem
No. 73 - Media Cultures of the Early Cold War Era (Spring 2014)
Michael Baskett on Japan's film festival diplomacy
Ken Provencher on runaway productions in Japan
Noah Tsika on corporate-sponsored films in West Africa
Abigail Hinsman on the U-2 Spy Plane and the epistemology of intellegence
Fred Turner on the Osaka EXPO 70 and the Pepsi Pavilion