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What Sirens Is . . . And What It Isn’t

We often tell people that, no matter what you’re expecting when you come to Sirens, you’ll be surprised.

We’re different from other events. We designed a specifically interdisciplinary conference, where readers, scholars, professionals, and even authors could all cross paths and discuss a topic near and dear to them—women in fantasy literature—on equal footing. We invite you to read on to understand what Sirens is . . . and what it isn’t.

  • Sirens is a conference about voice. Those voices create conversations, and those conversations coalesce into a community. We provide the framework and the topic—women in fantasy literature—but our attendees, with all their opinions, identities, perspectives, and experiences, are the true voices of Sirens.

  • Sirens attendees are readers. Some read a dozen books a year, some closer to 50, some over 100, but every attendee at Sirens is a passionate, ambitious, thoughtful reader with a lot of opinions. Some of our attendees are also scholars, librarians, teachers, publishing professionals, or authors; our common bond is always our love of reading fantasy literature.

  • Sirens prioritizes diversity. Each year, Sirens attendees, like our planning team, include people of different genders, sexualities, races, religions, national origins, and abilities. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is both a foundational tenet of our organization and a daily responsibility, and we hope that you’ll find both evident at Sirens.

  • Roughly 40% of our attendees each year are first-time attendees. Some come with friends, some were referred by friends who have attended in the past, and some find us on their own. Whether you’re a multiple-time attendee or you’re thinking about joining us for the first time, we hope you will feel welcome.

Every Sirens attendee has thoughts, opinions, and something to say. We invite you to use your voice at Sirens in a number of different ways. You might propose a presentation on the monstrous feminine or, as an audience member, ask questions of a presenter on revolution in fantasy literature. You might discuss Essun’s journey over lunch with other readers, or debate femininity and warriors with librarians in the hot tub. These conversations—between reader and scholar, between first-time attendee and veteran, or between people of different races, origins, abilities, and more—are the heart of Sirens.

Everyone’s voice, no matter your vocation, identity, perspective, or familiarity with us, is equally important at Sirens.

Conversely, sometimes it’s important to know what Sirens isn’t, so you know what not to expect! We’ve often heard Sirens called an SFF con, a fan con, a book con, a networking retreat, a writers’ conference, or any number of other things. We think you’ll find that we’re none of those things—or maybe we’re all of them. But to be clear:

  • Sirens does not create its programming. Aside from our guests of honor and Studio faculty, we do not select topics or invite people to lead workshops, present papers, sit on panels, or moderate roundtables. Instead, we invite all attendees to propose programming; our independent vetting board then selects the programming to be presented at Sirens from among those proposals. Our programming is by attendees, for attendees, and everyone—readers, scholars, professionals, and authors—are welcome to propose and present. And we hope they do!

  • Sirens is not a writers’ conference. We welcome and value our writer attendees, and some of our attendee-proposed programming is geared towards writers, just as some is geared towards readers, scholars, dragon riders, or code-breakers. We are careful to value all voices and all contributions equally at Sirens, and we hope that, if you decide to come, you will try some programming perhaps not targeted to your vocation. Much of the fun of Sirens is exploration and discovery.

  • Sirens is not a conference for women, nor does it self-identify as a “feminist” conference. The bulk of our attendees do identify as women and feminist, but we also equally welcome our nonbinary attendees, as well as the handful of men who join us each year. We also recognize that the term “feminism” has different definitions and connotations for every individual; we encourage all our attendees to use the identity markers with which they feel most comfortable.

  • Sirens is not a science fiction conference. Our focus is the remarkable, diverse women of fantasy literature. While that may overlap with science fiction in a number of ways, such as authors, crossover works, or themes, you will not find very much science fiction programming or discussion at Sirens.

If you are new to us, please know that we might be different than other events you know, but we think you’ll like us. We welcome everyone who wants to discuss women in fantasy literature—and if you’re wondering if that includes you, it does!

 

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