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No. 51 (2003) through current issue
The Velvet Light Trap is a journal devoted to investigating historical questions that illuminate the understanding of film and other media. While 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.
Hermann Hesse and Swabian Pietism
One of the most widely read German authors in the world, Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. After his death, his novels enjoyed a revival of popularity, becoming a staple of popular religion and spirituality in Europe and North America.
Veneration and Revolt: Hermann Hesse and Swabian Pietism is the first comprehensive study of the impact of German Pietism (the religion of Hesse’s family and native Swabia) on Hesse’s life and literature. Hesse’s literature bears witness to a lifelong conversation with his religious heritage despite that in adolescence he rejected his family’s expectation that he become a theologian, cleric, and missionary.
Hesse’s Pietist upbringing and broader Swabian heritage contributed to his moral and political views, his pacifism and internationalism, the confessional and autobiographical style of his literature, his romantic mysticism, his suspicion of bourgeois culture, his ecumenical outlook, and, in an era scarred by two world wars, his hopes for the future. Veneration and Revolt offers a unique perspective on the life and works of one of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.
Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Historian Eric R Dursteler reconsiders identity in the early modern world to illuminate Veneto-Ottoman cultural interaction and coexistence, challenging the model of hostile relations and suggesting instead a more complex understanding of the intersection of cultures. Although dissonance and strife were certainly part of this relationship, he argues, coexistence and cooperation were more common. Moving beyond the "clash of civilizations" model that surveys the relationship between Islam and Christianity from a geopolitical perch, Dursteler analyzes the lived reality by focusing on a localized microcosm: the Venetian merchant and diplomatic community in Muslim Constantinople. While factors such as religion, culture, and political status could be integral elements in constructions of self and community, Dursteler finds early modern identity to be more than the sum total of its constitutent parts and reveals how the fluidity and malleability of identity in this time and place made coexistence among disparate cultures possible.
Andres Reiner and Scouting on the New Frontier
Hugo Chávez's Foreign Policy
Since coming to power in 1999, President Hugo Chavez has used the windfall of high oil prices to remake Venezuela internally along the model of twenty-first-century socialism and, even more audaciously, to rewrite global relations by directly challenging U.S. hegemony. The dramatic ascendency of the country in hemispheric and global international relations over the past decade is the subject of Venezuela’s Petro-Diplomacy.
The contributors offer fresh, authoritative insights into a wide array of questions hanging over Venezuelan foreign policy and the leadership of the maverick president, Chavez. While revenue from petroleum exports has swelled national coffers and allowed the expansion of public programs and the extension of aid to foreign countries, bolstering Chavez’s popularity at home and abroad, the volatility of petroleum prices and the neglect of other export industries have the potential to render Chavez’s--and Venezuela’s--power tenuous.
The Scandalous Love Triangle That Triggered the Boyce-Sneed Feud
The 1912 Boyce-Sneed feud in West Texas began with a torrid sex scandal at the core of a love triangle, featuring Lena Snyder Sneed, the high-spirited, headstrong wife; Al Boyce, Jr., Lena’s reckless, romantic lover; and John Beal Sneed, Lena’s arrogant, grim, and vindictive husband, who responded to Lena’s plea for a divorce by having her locked up in an insane asylum on grounds of “moral insanity.” The chase was on after Al rescued Lena from the asylum and the lovers fled to Canada. That’s when the killings began. No one who knew the vengeful John Beal Sneed doubted for a moment that he would go after his wife’s lover with lethal intent. Frustrated by Al’s escape to Canada, Sneed assassinated Al’s aged and unarmed father, Colonel Albert Boyce, a wealthy Amarillo banker and former manager of the huge XIT Ranch in the Panhandle during the late nineteenth century, who had been defending his son against Sneed’s legal machinations. Newspaper headlines predicted the upcoming murder trial would be the “greatest legal battle ever fought in Texas Courts.” Sneed’s well-paid legal team first earned him a mistrial. While awaiting his second trial, Sneed ambushed and killed Al Boyce, Jr., who had foolishly returned to Amarillo and was shot in the back, with witnesses present, while walking the main street. Sneed was acquitted in his second trial for killing the father, and later acquitted for the killing of son Al Boyce, Jr., as well—his legal team skillfully invoking the self-help justice of the unwritten law defending one’s marital home. Bill Neal, attorney and writer, tells the full story of this sordid affair with special analysis of the trial tactics that were so carefully crafted to resonate with the jurors of this era and ensure Sneed’s acquittal.
The Hollywood Empire and the VCR
A funny thing happened on the way to the movies. Instead of heading downtown to a first-run movie palace, or even to a suburban multiplex with the latest high-tech projection capabilities, many people’s first stop is now the neighborhood video store. Indeed, video rentals and sales today generate more income than either theatrical releases or television reruns of movies. This pathfinding book chronicles the rise of home video as a mass medium and the sweeping changes it has caused throughout the film industry since the mid-1970s. Frederick Wasser discusses Hollywood’s initial hostility to home video, which studio heads feared would lead to piracy and declining revenues, and shows how, paradoxically, video revitalized the film industry with huge infusions of cash that financed blockbuster movies and massive marketing campaigns to promote them. He also tracks the fallout from the video revolution in everything from changes in film production values to accommodate the small screen to the rise of media conglomerates and the loss of the diversity once provided by smaller studios and independent distributors.