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Archive for April 2016

Programming Perspectives: Presentation Styles

Are you ready for our annual programming posts series? We’ve just kicked it off! Before we go on, though, we thought you might want to explore some perspectives on presenting different types of programming. These perspectives were first published last year, but we think they’re still very relevant.

Presenting a Paper by Hallie Tibbetts, one of this year’s programming coordinators

Presenting a Panel by Amy Tenbrink, one of this year’s conference chairs

Presenting a Roundtable Discussion by Sarah Benoot, a longtime staff member

Presenting a Workshop or Afternoon Class by Manda Lewis, a longtime staff member

We’ll be offering other perspectives in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we hope you’ll put together a programming proposal. All proposals are due by May 9, 2016.

 

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Quick links:?
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!?
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

Our Annual Programming Series, Part One

It’s time for our annual programming series posts! You can see all of the posts here including perspectives from past presenters, submission information, and more. We want to give you inspiration, information, and things to think about. While most details don’t change from year to year, it’s always good to refresh your memory and knowledge—especially because each year, the presentation proposals we receive get better and better (and we thank you sincerely).

The deadline for proposals is May 9, 2016.

To help you prepare, we’ll explain our programming selection process (including any updates), discuss different types of programming commonly seen at Sirens, and show you how to put together a strong programming proposal. Here’s the first thing you should know:

Everyone who is eligible to attend Sirens is eligible to present at Sirens.

You have something to share.

Your voice is important.

Presenting is not an activity just for published authors, or professors, or professionals. The programming for Sirens is presented by attendees because the perspectives and inquiries of attendees are important. Readers, authors, moms, publishers, cousins, scientists, psychologists, friends, mathematicians, librarians, historians—and any other broad category you might be able to think of—all have interesting perspectives to share.

This year’s theme is lovers, and we hope you’ll consider how that’s reflected in fantasy. We’ll also be happy to receive programming proposals more generally applicable to women in fantasy, and presentations might focus on particular authors, stories, or themes, related topics in gender studies and community, the business and enjoyment of books, and so on. For inspiration, take a look at what attendees have presented over the last seven years.

 


Here are some quick facts and answers to frequently asked questions about programming for Sirens:

  • Proposals are accepted via our online system only, and are due no later than May 9, 2016.
     
  • We have some guidelines and considerations for presentations so that we can create a coherent schedule that will fit in the time and space we have available.
     
  • Collaboration is encouraged! Except for roundtable discussions, where the participants need to have a single moderator, you’re welcome to make your presentation with another person or with several other people.
     
  • One or two presentations is usually a good maximum number of presentations for any one person. Likewise, one or two proposals is a good maximum number of proposals to submit.
     
  • Proposals are kept confidential by the vetting board.
     
  • Decisions will be made by June 13, 2016 so that you have the time you need to prepare your presentation at Sirens.
     
  • You may submit a proposal even if you are not registered yet, but you must be registered by July 9, 2016, to confirm your participation if your proposal is chosen for Sirens.

You’ll Want to Know

The Call for Proposals
A call for proposals (or papers) formally sets out a conference’s theme, desired presentations, and presentation requirements. It also gives a brief overview of the process by which proposals will be selected.

Vetting Board
An independent vetting board will read all of the proposals and decide which proposals to accept for Sirens in 2016. We enlist a rotating board to make sure that proposals are evaluated by people who have a strong collective knowledge of current trends, scholarship, events, and so on; we feel it is most fair to have proposals evaluated by a group of people who know and appreciate what you want to talk about.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Make sure you include all requested information when you make your proposal. (More on what to include is coming up in the next posts in the series.)
     
  2. If you’re working with collaborators—perhaps co-writing a paper, grouping together for a panel, or team-teaching a workshop—be sure to verify that your collaborators want to be part of the presentation before you submit it! Let them know that they’ll receive an email asking them to confirm their participation and to input their contact information and a short biography.
     
  3. You’ll receive all proposal and presentation communications via email. Please use one that you’ll have access to for all of 2016 and that you check regularly.

Join Us for a Chat!
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

Our next posts will describe different types of proposals; what to put in a biography, summary, and abstract; and posts simply for exchanging ideas and finding collaborators. If you have questions, we’re happy to receive them, here or via email at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Six Tips for Programming Proposals

It’s time! Time to make a programming proposal, and for you to participate in programming for Sirens. Here are our top six tips for getting ready, based on some common issues that we notice in proposals.

  1. You should take a few minutes to look through the programming section of the Sirens website. If you’ve attended or presented before, this will refresh your memory and give you the chance to see if something you need to know has changed. If you’re a newbie, welcome, and we hope this provides you with plenty of preparation information.
     
  2. Use fantasy as your frame. This is vital. No matter what topic you’d like to present on, you have to make clear how it relates to fantasy, and you have to do that explicitly in your abstract and summary. Explicitly might mean mentioning a fantasy book—or film! Or story!—in your summary, which is posted on the website and published in the program book, as well as including fantasy-specific information and examples in your abstract. Find out why.
     
  3. Push beyond “101” on topics. There is always some room for beginner-level programming, especially if that topic hasn’t been explored at Sirens before or if it’s part of an ongoing, current conversation, because there are always new people finding out about and coming to Sirens who will appreciate the introduction. However, you will find that even new attendees can catch up quickly, and that everyone is seeking smart, savvy, thoughtful, challenging presentations to attend. Avoid repeating what has been presented before, unless it hasn’t been addressed in a long time, or unless you can update and extend the conversation. Plan to dig deep!
     
  4. Carefully match your topic to a presentation style. For example, if you want to communicate a lot of information that your audience won’t necessarily have, you probably want a paper/lecture/talk or a workshop, rather than, say, a roundtable, where you’re posing questions for the audience to answer. You can find more information in our presentation guidelines, and we love nothing more than consulting before you turn in your proposal.
     
  5. Write a strong summary and a thoughtful abstract. They are not the same thing! You can see examples of summaries in the conference archives, and an abstract is going to be a paragraph or two, or a lesson plan, or sample questions for a roundtable. We’ll be posting more help on abstracts in the coming weeks.
     
  6. This year’s theme is lovers, and we encourage you to engage with that theme in proposals, which might mean exploring relationships, examining love, or pushing back against the very idea of the theme in fantasy. (We do hope that you’ll offer proposals on fantasy outside of this year’s theme as well, of course!)
     

If you have any questions about programming, we’re happy to help answer them. Write to us at (programming at sirensconference.org).

Cora Anderson
Hallie Tibbetts
Programming Coordinators
 

What is some amazing programming that you attended at Sirens?

s.e. smith (@realsesmith)
The diversity of programming is always amazing. I will never forget attending a live workshop where we discussed fencing techniques and choreography—as a fencer, I found it really enlightening to see how other people fence and integrate the sport into their work. I’ve also attended some fabulous roundtables, including one where we went in deep on reproductive issues and the day-to-day of life in fantasy landscapes, and the role that women play—where do people get their clothes, how do they prepare their food, and who cleans the toilets? My all time number one favourite panel, though, has to be one I was on (of course)—in which Andrea Horbinski, Jen Michaels, Rae Carson, and I took on the strong female character archetype and deconstructed it, all while drinking wine, beer, and cocktails.

 
Sherwood Smith (@sherwood_smith)
It is difficult to choose which program items were amazing because there have been so many, on such a variety of subjects. If I have to pick one, it would be last year’s panel on religion in fantasy. The panelists were from a diverse range of religious viewpoints, plus non-religious, and yet the atmosphere was never acrimonious. All treated one another with respect, while delving deeply into the topic.

 
Karen Bailey
Over the years, I’ve been coming to Sirens I’ve attended a lot of wonderful programming. The variety of programming is one of the best parts of conference.

One of my favorite workshops was a class on the language of the fan taught by author Sherwood Smith. We talked about different books that used fans as a language. Then we divided into groups and made up our own languages. We came up with a message and the other groups had to see if they could figure out what we were saying. Some of the misunderstandings had us in hysterics laughing.

Another high point for me is the Bedtime Story sessions. Getting to hear the Guests of Honor read from their unpublished works is a treat. The variety is amazing. I have heard everything from poetry written as a teenager to sneak previews of works in progress.

 
Faye Bi (@faye_bi)
I love all of Sirens’s programming, to the point that my fellow staff-people know that they can’t take programming away from me! (Not that they would ever.) Besides the atmosphere, programming is the highlight of my Sirens experience–I’ll share one of my earliest Sirens memories, which was the roundtable led by Katie Hoffman back in 2009, called “Finding Femininity in a Warrior’s World.” I distinctly remember going around the room, having the moderator ask us to give an example of what it meant to be “feminine,” and listening to everyone’s responses, like “curves” and “nesting in one’s home.” We went on to analyze examples of femininity of characters we read in fantasy books, from Kel’s cool-as-a-lake competence to Nimiar’s strength in etiquette. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had about books, and the stuff college-discussion-section dreams are made of.
 

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