Welcome to our annual programming series! In these posts, we’ll give you all the information you’ll need to propose programming for Sirens. Stay tuned: We’ll have a post with tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions later this week, and then we’ll feature a post specific to each type of programming next week. Then, on April 4, we’ll open our proposals system.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Programming, for Sirens, is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, workshops, roundtables, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of the conference. While a thousand conversations happen at Sirens every year, the true vanguards of those discussions are the brave and brilliant individuals who share their wisdom and expertise as part of our programming. See the archives to find out more about the kinds of topics and discussions that have been presented in the past.
So how does Sirens create its programming?
We don’t want Sirens to be limited by the interests, knowledge, and networking of our staff! Instead, we invite our attendees—from readers to scholars to librarians to authors—to propose programming for our schedule. And each year, dozens of individuals do: they create, propose, and present the lectures, papers, panels, workshops, roundtables, and afternoon classes that become the programming at Sirens. Regardless of your vocation, your level of experience, or how many years you’ve attended Sirens, we hope you’ll take a crack at sharing your thoughts and expertise as part of our programming.
And how does Sirens choose its programming?
Each year, an independent vetting board—a diverse group of tremendous individuals who know and love Sirens—review the proposals for thoughtfulness, relevance, and variety, and then select which ones to include on that year’s programming schedule.
Thoughtfulness: Is the proposal well-conceived? This means the vetting board considers the research, logic, and sophistication of the proposal. Is the proposal well-argued? Is it innovative? Is it interesting?
Relevance: Is the topic relevant to Sirens’s global topic of women in fantasy literature? The topic doesn’t need to specifically address the theme of any given year, and doesn’t have to be about women (and/or topics related to gender) and fantasy and literature, but if your proposal doesn’t address at least two of the three, you might want to consider how you can make your topic more relevant to the Sirens audience.
Variety: Has the topic been recently presented, and in much the same way? If there are multiple proposals on a topic in a single year, does each bring something special to the larger discussion? Does the proposal engage attendees beyond a basic definition approach, an audience of people who read, study, write, and consider fantasy (some of whom might do only one of those things, and even some who might do all)?
How does someone propose programming?
Sirens operates its own proposals system specifically for programming proposals. We’ll open this system on April 4 and close it May 15, which is this year’s deadline for proposals. After May 15, our vetting board goes to work.
Five things are needed for a proposal:
Personal information: Your name, contact information, and a third-person biography that we can use on our website and in our program book
A summary: 50–100 words about your topic and approach, which we’ll also publish on our website and in our program book (see last year’s summaries for examples)
An abstract: 300–500 words explaining your presentation and approach to the vetting board; this should be far more in depth and should demonstrate your research, analysis, and conclusion on the topic
Audiovisual requests: Information on your requested audiovisual equipment for your presentation, if any
Contact information for any co-presenters: Your co-presenters will then receive an email asking them to provide their personal information and, in the case of panels, a supplemental abstract of 300–500 words demonstrating the perspectives and expertise that they will bring to the panel
So let’s do this!
We know that the proposal process can be intimidating, especially for those new to Sirens. It takes a lot of courage to put your thoughts and analysis out there, first to a review board and then at Sirens itself. But each year, dozens of individuals screw their courage to the proverbial sticking place and, in doing so, make Sirens smarter, more thoughtful, and just plain better.
We hope that that will include you this year!