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All the 2019 #SirensBrainstorm topics in one place for your proposal consideration

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. And as you know, programming is presented by and for attendees—attendees just like you! Whatever your vocation, perspective, or background, we value your voice, and invite you to submit a programming proposal. Time is running out! All proposals for our 2019 conference are due May 15.

Our Twitter followers may know that we’ve been tweeting out potential topic ideas at the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm on Mondays the last few months. Feel free to take these ideas, bend them, break them, or use them to inspire something else. Remember, these are not real programming sessions—until someone proposes it!

Want the full rundown? Read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. We also go over each presentation format in detail: papers/lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, and workshops and afternoon classes.

And remember, there’s one more programming chat next week, to find collaborators and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff:

  • Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

Here are all your #SirensBrainstorm topics in one place!

  • Harry, Percy and Aru: The Feminist Evolution of Heroes in Middle-Grade Fantasy

  • Fantasy and Slavery Narratives: The Forbidden Wish to Mirage, Beloved to The Fifth Season

  • Dystopian Feminism: Alderman’s The Power as Heir to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

  • The Merry Spinster: Gender, Non-conformance, and Fantasy Literature Reincarnations

  • Wild, Wild West: Desolation and Loneliness as Fantasy Constructs

  • Feminist Revenge Fantasies: Slice of Cherry, Spell on Wheels, and the Stories of Angela Slatter

  • It’s Coming from Inside the House: Haunted Houses as Jealous Lovers

  • To Succeed or Not to Succeed: Reimagining Shakespeare for Feminist Fantasy Readers

  • Catholic Themes in A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

  • How Many Entrails Is Too Many Entrails? The Glorious Gore of Cassandra Khaw

  • Pretty Princess Picture Books: Ten Years of Evolution

  • I Want to Wear Pants! The Barely-There Feminism of Historical Young-Adult Fantasy Literature

  • Higher, Further, Faster, More: The Revolution of Female and Nonbinary Comic Book Heroes

  • Decolonizing Paris: A Close Reading of the Work of Roshani Chokshi and Aliette de Bodard

  • The Magic of Illustration in Fantasy Works

  • Deconstructing the Hypermasculinity of Fonda Lee’s Jade War

  • Boundaries as Gender Construct: The Short Stories of Daisy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado

  • Reimagining Myth: Familiar Tropes vs. Feminist Evolution

  • The Feminist Symbols of The Stars Are Legion

  • Fantasy Poetry as Self-Reclamation: The Work of Nikita Gill and Amanda Lovelace

  • Alice and Dorothy: Feminist Evaluations of Childhood Works

  • White Women’s Feminism and Practical Magic

  • Yes, Your Majesty: Including Women of Color in Traditional Princess Fantasy Tropes

  • From Wonder Woman: Warbringer to Leia, Princess of Alderaan: The Evolution of the Tie-in Novel

  • Cosplay as Reclamation and Revolution

  • The Magic of Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant

  • Sentient Settings: Examining Location Selection in Real-World Fantasy Works

  • How to Train a Dragon

  • Obsessive Love in Heidi Heilig’s The Girl from Everywhere

  • Female Friendship as Romantic Subversion in Fantasy Young-Adult Novels

  • Show Me the Money: Elements of Successful Fantasy Revolutions

  • Revolutionary Love in Fantasy Literature

  • I Wish! The Role of Fairy Godmothers

  • The Bachelor, Middle Earth Season: Toxic Masculinity in Fantasy Romance

  • Guerilla Tactics for Underdog Fantasy Revolutions

  • American Gods: Seanan McGuire’s Reconstruction of the Phantom Hitchhiker in Sparrow Hill Road

  • Claiming Your Power: Contrasting The Bone Witch, Three Dark Crowns, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

  • Deconstructing the Monstrousness of Sana Takeda’s Monstress Art

  • Someday My Prince Will Come: The Feminist Horror of Sarah Pinborough’s Fairy Tale Retellings

  • Valiant: Examining Fearless Authorial Choices in Feminist Fantasy Literature

  • Women and War: How Fantasy Literature Challenges (or Doesn’t) Gender Expectations on the Battlefield

  • Witchcraft: A Reader’s Examination of Exceptional Writing in Fantasy Literature

  • Great Villainess Narratives: Why We Love a Bad Girl

  • Beyond Upstairs/Downstairs: Class Depictions and Deconstructions in Fantasy Literature

  • Happy Endings: What Does Happily Ever After Mean Now?

  • Alice of Wonderland, Meet Alice of Furthermore: The Enduring Popularity of Serial Adventure Fantasy

  • My Boyfriend Is a Vampire/Werewolf/Faery/Zombie: A Self-Help Session

  • She’s a Witch: SFF Language Used to Constrain and Disenfranchise Women

  • Beloved; Kindred; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and An Unkindness of Ghosts: American Slave Narratives in Speculative Fiction

  • You Can’t Keep a Good Girl Down: The Rise of the Superheroine

  • All the Single Ladies: A Survey of Accomplished, Happily Single Women in Fantasy Literature

  • Pushing the Boundaries of “Fantasy” Literature with Space Opera, Romance, Mysteries and More

  • Indiana, Meet Owl: A (Necessary) Update to the (Problematic) Adventuring Archeologist Trope

  • Feminist Reincarnations of Goethe in Fantasy Literature

  • Legal Magic: Reviewing a Standard Publishing Agreement

  • Strong Girls: White Women’s Heroism in Fantasy Literature

  • A Swoon-worthy Survey of the Yummiest, Most Romantic, Sexiest Queer Love Stories in Fantasy Literature

  • What Satire Brings to the Fantasy Literature Conversation

  • Exploring the Magic of the Tween Years with Actual Magic: A Parent’s Deconstruction of Popular Middle Grade Fantasy Literature

  • Empathy Starts Early: Childhood Fantasy Narratives Modeling Heroism

  • How to Start Your Own Sirens Book Club

  • Modern YA Romance: Attraction and Consent in Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely

  • History and Perspective: One Woman’s Superhero Is Another Woman’s Supervillain

  • A Case Study in Villainy: Rin in R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War

  • Ayt Madashi, Hailimi Bristol, and Shuos Jedao: Speculative Fiction’s Master Negotiators

  • The Intersection of Race and Class in Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty

  • And Then? What Happens after Your Successful Fantasy Revolution?

  • Master Class: Deconstructing Loss and Grief in Work by Ireland’s Female Fantasy Writers

  • In the Absence of Inspiration or Motivation, Discipline: How to Finish Writing That Fantasy Book

  • Fantastic! American Monsters in Speculative Fiction

  • What Body Horror Has to Say about Reproductive Justice

  • Exploring the Growth of Female Friendship in the Teenage Years through Aru Shah and Children of Blood and Bone

  • Sidekick: A Problematic History

  • Fantasy Worldbuilding as Activism: Imagining Worlds that Right the Wrongs of Oppression

  • Fuck, Marry, Kill: An Interactive Roundtable Discussion about What We Want from Our Fantasy Literature Lovers

  • Where Faith Meets Fantasy: Deconstructing the Liminal Spaces in Freshwater and All the Names They Used for God

  • Analyzing Fantasy Works for Language that Others Marginalized Identities

  • Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Wreck-It Ralph’s Vanellope, Shank, Reimagined Princesses, and What It Means for a Girl to Dream

  • Crafting Dialogue: A Workshop for Fantasy Authors

  • Horror, Monsters, and Gender

  • What Women Want, What They Really, Really Want: Female Quests in Fantasy Literature

  • Clothes Make the Hero: What Superhero Costuming Choices Say about Gender

  • Food, Caretaking, and Magic: Kitchen Witchery

  • Ahoy! Lady Pirates of History and Their Feminist Reincarnation in Fantasy Literature

  • Gender Stereotypes in Authoring Speculative Fiction

  • Contemporary Literary Witches: Addressing a Thousand Years of Persecution

  • Princes as Heirs, Princesses as Chattel: Pervasive, Problematic Gender Tropes in Quasi-European YA Fantasy

  • Reclaiming Our Mothers: Living, Responsible Mothers in YA Fantasy Literature

  • Dystopia vs. Utopia: A Case for Reading Each in Trying Times

  • Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare’s Fantasy in Fantasy Literature

  • Deconstructing Strength: A Roundtable on Strong Female Protagonists

  • One Last Time: The Women of HBO’s Game of Thrones

  • Magical Circuses as Lures in Fantasy Literature

  • From Lois Lane to The Shining Girls: Intrepid Journalism

  • Lady Thor, She-Hulk, and Kate Bishop: When Comics Finally Pass the Torch

  • Reissued! A Discussion of Republishing Decades-out-of-Print Fantasy Books

  • Fantasy Literature as Classroom Teaching Tool

  • Examining the Fantastic, Feminist Art of Isabel Greenberg

  • A Reader’s Perspective: Effective Writing of Liminal Spaces

  • Deconstructing Societal Baggage about Identity via the Dialogue of First-Contact Novels

  • Feminist Retellings of the Mahabharata

  • That’s Really…Weird: What Our Strangest Fantasy Fiction Says about Us

  • Presenting Masculinity: Use of the Penis (or the Absence Thereof) on HBO’s Game of Thrones

  • The Fairy-Tale Crumbs in Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread

  • The Commercialization of Childbirth and Motherhood in Dystopian Fiction

  • Suburban Monstrousness: Headley’s The Mere Wife and Link’s Pretty Monsters

  • How to Create a Heroine: A Workshop for Artists

  • Civil Engineering: Magical Transportation Systems

  • Furious! Fantasy Heroines Whose Rage Propels Their Stories

  • Fantastic Parenting: Brainstorming How to Take Your Kid on a Quest to Save the World

  • Examining Freedom and Duty through G. Willow Wilson’s The Bird King

  • Building Fantasy Worlds by Crafting Justice Systems

  • Deconstructing the Male Gaze through Written Descriptions of Heroines

  • Dreaming Epiphanies in Fantasy Literature

  • Near-Future: The Intersection of Magic and Tech

  • An Argument for Space Opera as Fantasy Literature

  • Where Wonder Meets Fear: Middle-Grade Portal Fantasy as Self-Discovery

 

Contributed by our community:

  • Performative Tools to Bring Your Fantasy Novel to Life

  • Why We Write About War

  • Jewish Women and Jewish Life in SFF

 

All set? Submit your proposal here.

More questions? You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

2019 Programming: Workshops and Afternoon Classes

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. For our 2019 programming series, we’re doing a deeper dive on each presentation format; this information will both help potential presenters select the proper format for their approach to their topic and provide details on proposal requirements. We also suggest that potential presenters read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. Earlier this week, we reviewed papers/lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions. You can submit a proposal any time from April 4 to May 15.

Workshops are an opportunity to teach practical skills, often through hands-on instruction. Workshops sometimes feature writing topics, such as building magical worlds or how to form an effective critique group, but we welcome when presenters tackle different topics for different audiences: how to plan a book club, where to find resources for library collection development, or how to create a feminist course curriculum based on fantasy reading.

Afternoon classes are also an opportunity to teach skills through hands-on instruction, though these skills tend to be of interest to fantasy readers—but may not be connected directly to literature or other media. Think topics as diverse as battle weaponry, self-defense, historical dress or dance, and costume construction.

Audience size for both workshops and afternoon classes will be 25–40 people, depending on available room size.

The boundary between a workshop and an afternoon class can be thin, so feel free to write us at (programming at sirensconference.org) for guidance.

Co-taught workshops or afternoon classes are welcome. Collaborators who have similar or complementary expertise may wish to present together, either to maximize the opportunity for hands-on instruction or to present different skills related to the topic (such as clothing construction and embroidery).

Materials, if needed, are provided by the presenters. If your workshop or afternoon class is accepted, you are welcome to request a small donation from audience members to defray costs. Please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) for assistance in framing the wording for your summary.

Workshops are always 50 minutes long. If you have a topic that’s shorter than 50 minutes, you might consider finding a collaborator to present on some other element of the topic. Presenters should strongly consider hands-on elements and time for audience questions.

Afternoon classes can range from 50 to 90 minutes. Often these topics require additional time for instruction or practice (or, to provide one past example, taking turns stabbing a bale of hay with battle weaponry). We also often schedule afternoon classes in larger spaces, particularly if they’re demonstration-based or require room to move (such as martial arts or dancing).

Proposal requirements include a presenter biography (50–100 words), a presentation summary (50–100 words), and a detailed abstract (300–500 words). We will publish the biography and the summary on our website and in our program book to help attendees navigate our programming and decide which presentations they’d like to attend. Each presenter must provide a biography, though no supplemental abstract is required. The abstract is for the vetting board. It should explain your topic and approach and be far more in depth than your summary. Presenters of workshops and afternoon classes may present a traditional abstract or, if they prefer, a detailed lesson plan.

Room set-up will depend heavily on the content and design of your presentation, as well as the available room. Set-up often includes tables and chairs with space for audience members to write or craft, though, if your topic is physical, we will help clear the room so you have space to work. Projection equipment and a small dry erase board or easel may be available as well (though we will ask you to specify how you will use projection equipment so that we can prioritize it for presentations that particularly need it, and make sure to clear it away if it might be damaged). If the room size warrants, we will provide a microphone (and if we do, we require that you use it, as it makes your presentation more accessible to the audience).

 

Looking for help or inspiration?

  • Join us for a programming chat! Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can stop by to brainstorm, find collaborators, and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chat will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Examples of summaries of past workshops and afternoon classes from Sirens:

  • Ballads and Marching Songs by Ellen Kushner and Ysabeau Wilce: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!” said Duke Ellington. As authors, we are very aware of how sound and rhythm inform good writing, and so we heartily agree! We also draw on music, particularly traditional music of the fireside and the parade ground, to inspire and support our work. And so: Ellen will sing some of the traditional ballads that inspired her novel Thomas the Rhymer, and Ysabeau will counter with some of the military ditties that form the backdrop to the campfires, parade grounds, and blind tigers of her Califa series. We’ll then turn around and show participants how to create a fresh ballad or marching song that fits the needs of an original fantasy novel.

  • Let’s Talk About Sex: Worldbuilding Through Lovers by B R Sanders: What counts as sex? What counts as love? Who is allowed to do what to whom and why? What happens when rules are broken? When you are worldbuilding, these questions can become murky and complicated very quickly. In this workshop, we will explore how using themes of romance, sex, love, queerness, and marriage can deeply inform worldbuilding in speculative fiction.

  • No Key, No Problem by Erynn Moss: When fighting the establishment, it helps to have a few picks up your sleeves. Or in your hair, under your collar, clipped to your belt … you get the idea. Come join us in some subversive fun! Tumblers, bumpers, Bogota picks, and shims. Work your way free from cuffs, and hone your hands with the tips and tools of professionals.

  • Siren with a Sword: Fencing 101 by Manda Lewis and Marie Brennan: Have you always wanted to join your favorite character on the training grounds where she first picks up a blade? Have you wished yourself in her place as she readies for the attack? This class will provide you the opportunity to do just that! Join us as we explore the history, terminology, and rules of the sport of fencing. Then you’ll take up a foil and practice what you’ve learned with your fellow attendees. You will see that fencing is not simply about overpowering your opponent, it’s about planning and strategy. We recommend wearing comfortable or athletic clothing.

2019 Programming: Roundtable Discussions

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. For our 2019 programming series, we’re doing a deeper dive on each presentation format; this information will both help potential presenters select the proper format for their approach to their topic and provide details on proposal requirements. We also suggest that potential presenters read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. Earlier this week, we reviewed papers/lectures and panels; we’ll review workshops/afternoon classes later this week. You can submit a proposal any time from April 4 to May 15.

At Sirens, roundtable discussions are moderator-led conversations with a participating audience of roughly 25 people. These presentations approximate college discussion sections, and because of this format, are best suited to topics where everyone in the audience is likely to have something to contribute. A discussion of reading practices, a debate over effectively retold fairy tales, or a conversation on sex in young-adult fantasy literature could all be great roundtable topics.

Roundtable moderators lead the discussions through a series of questions and are responsible both for facilitating the conversation and keeping the audience on track. Moderators who wish to tackle an esoteric topic or convey their research, analysis, or viewpoint should strongly consider presenting a paper or lecture where their knowledge can shine, instead of a roundtable discussion—here, it’s essential that the audience not need an introduction to the topic.

Roundtable discussions may have only one presenter. Since the moderator is the facilitator in a roundtable discussion, we limit this presentation format to only one presenter.

Roundtables are always 50 minutes long. Presenters should plan enough questions to fill the entire time. As audience participation is the heart of this presentation format, presenters need not save time specifically for audience questions. Usually, ten solid questions and follow-ups will be more than enough for a 50-minute discussion.

Proposal requirements include a presenter biography (50–100 words), a presentation summary (50–100 words), and a detailed abstract (300–500 words). We will publish the biography and the summary on our website and in our program book to help attendees navigate our programming and decide which presentations they’d like to attend. The abstract is for the vetting board. It should explain your topic and approach to the vetting board and be far more in depth than your summary. Roundtable abstracts may be in the form of a series of at least ten questions (with appropriate follow-up questions), rather than a more traditional paragraph format, if the presenter prefers.

Room set-up includes tables and chairs arranged in a square or U-shape. As the rooms hosting roundtables are small, no audio-visual equipment will be provided. However, a small white board or an easel will be available. (In the past, we have tested the use of a microphone and amplifier with some roundtables; if a microphone is provided, we will require that you use it for the assistance of the audience.)

 

Looking for help or inspiration?

  • Join us for a programming chat! Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can stop by to brainstorm, find collaborators, and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chat will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Examples of summaries of past roundtable discussions from Sirens:

  • Can You Go Home Again?: Fantasy, Re-Reading, Childhood Favorites, and Nostalgia by Faye Bi: This roundtable will explore the transformative joy of re-reading an old favorite, as well as the flip side of discovering that a beloved book is no longer a favorite. With influence from Jo Walton’s and Laura Miller’s ideas on re-reading, we’ll delve into the books read long ago and see how time, successive reads, and reading companions change our relationships with them.

  • Female Game-Changers by Sherwood Smith: Let’s talk about heroines as catalysts in revolutions. Not all heroines are battle commanders, though we can take time to appreciate the ones who are. Many begin with little besides their wits and skills. Some have special gifts, some do not. Some are born to rank, others are outsiders in various ways. In this roundtable discussion, we will talk about the different ways heroines in genre literature bring about change.

  • Queer-Coding and Queer-Baiting by Kate Larking: Queer-coding, when a character is given traits commonly associated with queer people but not explicitly stated as queer, has been present in fiction media for some time. A more recent narrative evolution is queer-baiting, where implied sexual tension or character dynamics are constantly and frequently thwarted, leaving a promise of queer representation that isn’t, ultimately, fulfilled by the canon. Join in on a discussion of queer representation in media, subtext and canon, and the impacts on both fiction tropes and queer identities.

  • The Socioeconomics of Magic: Correlations Between Class Structure and Use of Magic in Fantasy Narratives by Emma Whitney: In the struggle for power that constitutes the plot of many fantasy novels, magic is often the primary tool. This use of magic generally confers a particular social status to the user. Frequently, especially in classic “epic” fantasy, this is an elevated status, but that is not always the case. In this roundtable we will discuss how magic is used to reinforce or break down social structure, and what this might say about how we view class distinctions.

  • Obligatory Horrors by Emma Whitney: Daughter, sister, girlfriend, mother, wife, companion, princess—murderer. Fairy tale stories have always had a dark side, but in a number of new story collections, such as Angela Slatter’s A Feast of Sorrows: Stories and Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s The Merry Spinster, a repeated commonality between protagonists in roles traditionally held by women in fairy tales is how choices and circumstances lead them to murder. In this roundtable discussion, we will examine how societal expectations and obligations are the true horrors in many of these stories and how the authors enable us to root for those who might have been portrayed as villains in traditional fairy tales.

 

2019 Programming: Panels

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. For our 2019 programming series, we’re doing a deeper dive on each presentation format; this information will both help potential presenters select the proper format for their approach to their topic and provide details on proposal requirements. We also suggest that potential presenters read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. Earlier this week, we reviewed papers/lectures; we’ll review roundtable discussions and workshops/afternoon classes later this week. You can submit a proposal any time from April 4 to May 15.

At Sirens, panels are a group of 3–5 presenters discussing and debating a given topic. Unlike papers or lectures, where the primary purpose is to convey information, panels are all about robust dialogue among panelists. Panels are led by a moderator, who will guide the discussion and may ask questions of the panelists (and panelists may, depending on preference, give a brief position statement to start the panel).

The strength of a panel depends on two things: the skill of the moderator and the inclusion of different perspectives on the panel.

  • Skill of the moderator: The moderator is generally responsible for eliciting thoughtful discussion among panelists, which means preparing questions in advance, ensuring that all panelists have a chance to speak, and keeping the conversation flowing. Moderators may also participate in the discussion if they wish, and may take questions from the audience as well, though the bulk of the time should be reserved for panelist discussion. For Sirens, the moderator must submit the primary panel proposal on behalf of the group.

  • Different perspectives: Because panels are designed for discussion and debate, a panel’s success generally depends on the inclusion of panelists with a variety of perspectives and opinions on the given topic. If your panelists all agree, or have similar perspectives, you’ll be conveying information rather than engaging in robust dialogue—and we strongly encourage you to consider a co-presented a co-presented paper or lecture instead.

Panels are always 50 minutes long. While your panel may feature brief opening position statements by the panelists, you should use most of your time for your panel’s discussion and debate, perhaps with some time for audience questions at the end.

Panels should have three to five total panelists, including the moderator. Panels must have only one moderator. If your panel has only two panelists, you might consider co-presenting another type of presentation, since you’ll likely be spending more time conveying information than debating your topic. You only have 50 minutes for your panel, so we cap panels at five people so everyone gets to participate in a meaningful way. Typically, larger panels come back to us with the feedback that the panelists didn’t have enough time to contribute individually, and typically, the audience feedback is that larger panels end up lacking the depth everyone hopes for.

Proposal requirements include presenter biographies (50–100 words), a presentation summary (50–100 words), a primary abstract (300–500 words), and supplemental abstracts (300–500 words). We will publish the biographies and the summary on our website and in our program book to help attendees navigate our programming and decide which presentations they’d like to attend.

The moderator must submit the initial proposal, and should provide their biography, the panel’s summary, and the primary abstract. Each additional panelist will provide their own biography and supplemental abstract.

The abstracts are for the vetting board. The primary abstract should explain your topic and approach and be far more in depth than your summary. If the moderator prefers, the primary abstract may be a summary paragraph and a series of at least ten questions (with appropriate follow-up questions) rather than a more traditional abstract. To provide the vetting board with insight as to the direction that the panel will take, each panelist must provide a supplemental abstract demonstrating the thoughtfulness and experience that they will bring to the panel, perhaps by answering a question or two from the question list. The vetting board will consider all abstracts (including any missing abstracts) in making its programming selections.

Moderators are responsible for ensuring that their panelists’ confirmations and supplemental abstracts are submitted by May 15. This means that moderators should make sure that all panelists know what is required of them in advance!

Room set-up includes several microphones, a podium and table, projection equipment, and a small dry erase board or easel. We can accommodate a variety of presentation styles, and we ask that, as part of your proposal, you specify how you will use projection equipment so that we can prioritize it for presentations that particularly need it. Presenters are welcome to stand or sit, though we do require that you use the microphone, as it makes your presentation more accessible to the audience.

 

Looking for help or inspiration?

  • Join us for a programming chat! Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can stop by to brainstorm, find collaborators, and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chat will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Examples of summaries of past panels from Sirens:

  • Conversations with Octavia Butler by K. Tempest Bradford, N. K. Jemisin, and Kiini Ibura Salaam: Octavia Butler’s novels have taken millions of readers on a fantastic journey—but what about the woman herself? This panel will give participants a glimpse into Octavia Butler, the individual. Through audio clips, we’ll hear from the woman who has brought the world fantastic vision, as Sirens guest of honor, novelist N.K. Jemisin, and two speculative fiction writers, Kiini Ibura Salaam and K. Tempest Bradford, engage in conversation with Butler’s ideas, visions, and brilliance.

  • Fans and Fandom as (Re)Tellers of Tales by Marie Brennan, Rachel Manija Brown, Andrea Horbinski, and Hallie Tibbetts: It’s a common jump from loving a book, a story, a TV show, or a movie, to wanting to play around with its elements oneself. Fandom offers many girls and women a space in which to do just that. This panel looks at fandom and fans as retellers of tales, asking questions such as: what kinds of stories do fans choose to retell? What are some of the most common, or most interesting, kinds of fannish retellings? What is the line between “fannish” and “professional” retellings of stories such as fairy tales? What makes fandom (and retelling) original and creative?

  • The Great Big Interfaith Dialogue by Gillian Chisom, Kate Elliott, s.e. smith, Shveta Thakrar, and Amy Tenbrink: What happens when an atheist, a Jew, a Hindu, and a Christian walk into a panel? Find out in this discussion of faith, collaboration, humanity, and the role of faith in real life as well as fictional faith, cataclysmic social change, and more. Panelists will discuss the role of faith in both new and beloved fantasy texts in addition to exploring the incorporation of religion in worldbuilding.

  • The Magic of Beauty: Beauty as Narrative Device and Social Construction by Faye Bi, Dhonielle J. Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Kate Elliott, and Kiini Ibura Salaam: In what sense has beauty been treated as a special magic gift that some girls and women possess? How has it functioned as a narrative device that gives its holders a form of power other girls and women don’t receive? This then obliges us to confront and discuss social constructions of beauty. Who is allowed to be beautiful in narratives and on what terms? For whom is beauty a limiting characteristic? For whom is it an empowering one?

  • Are You Experienced: The Gendered Sex Gap in YA Fantasy by Kate Elliott, Mette Ivie Harrison, Robin LaFevers, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rebecca Kim Wells: There has been a long tradition of heroines in young adult literature having minimal sexual experience. Unlike in male-centered stories, these heroines’ early sexual experiences are not celebrated as heroic accomplishments or rites of passage in a bildungsroman. What are the cultural, societal, and historical roots of this experience gap? Why is sexual inexperience still such an important component of a likeable heroine? Do heroines in fantasy have more latitude in closing that experience gap? This panel will discuss how issues of sexual experience play out in works of fantasy and how the genre reinforces or subverts them.

 

2019 Programming: Papers and Lectures

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. For our 2019 programming series, we’re doing a deeper dive on each presentation format; this information will both help potential presenters select the proper format for their approach to their topic and provide details on proposal requirements. We also suggest that potential presenters read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. Later this week, we’ll review panels, roundtable discussions, and workshops/afternoon classes. You can submit a proposal any time from April 4 to May 15.

Papers and lectures are our umbrella terms for a presentation format in which one or more presenters convey research, analysis, or other information. Maybe you’re a reader who wants to examine the use of technology in fantasy literature, or an educator who wants to analyze course curricula that include fantasy works, or two agents who want to deconstruct frequently seen feedback on fantasy submissions. These approaches to these topics would make terrific papers or lectures.

The difference between a paper and a lecture, at least to Sirens, is quite small. For Sirens, you’re welcome to read a paper, present with PowerPoint slides, or simply speak from your notes. Please note that you need not provide your paper or slides as part of the submissions process, though you may want to have us publish them in our compendium after Sirens.

Papers and lectures are researched in advance—though “research” can mean a number of things. As this format is great for sharing information, papers and lectures often require some amount of research. Scholarly papers, certainly, are heavily researched (usually for academic work that is relevant to Sirens), but even a reader’s textual analysis, a course curricula presentation, or an overview of legal provisions involves gathering information for presentation. You may do more or less research depending on your topic and your existing knowledge.

Papers and lectures may be 25 or 50 minutes long. Shorter slots generally work out to reading about 6–10 pages of a paper. Some presenters may prefer the longer period, especially if they want to dedicate time for audience questions; these presenters will need closer to 10–15 double-spaced pages to read or the equivalent in speaking notes.

You can collaborate on papers and lectures. Often, individuals with complementary expertise or shared opinions on a topic will co-present a paper or lecture. This can work in two ways: (1) the presenters co-present the topic itself in a way that works for them (perhaps presenting jointly or splitting a topic into sub-parts), or (2) the presenters propose pre-empaneled papers. If you and your co-presenters generally tend to agree on a topic, though, we strongly encourage you to consider proposing a paper or lecture, as opposed to a panel (which is a format best suited for discussion and debate among panelists with different perspectives).

Pre-empaneled papers—a series of two or more papers or lectures on a similar topic or theme—are one option for multiple presenters. Pre-empaneled papers are proposed as a unit, but presented individually in sequence. Each presenter will have 25 minutes to present their individual paper. If presenters prefer, a moderator may organize the group and keep everything on time, perhaps leading the audience question period (or even asking questions of the presenters), and that moderator may also read a paper if they choose.

Proposal requirements include a presenter biography (50–100 words), a presentation summary (50–100 words), and a detailed abstract (300–500 words). We will publish the biography and the summary on our website and in our program book to help attendees navigate our programming and decide which presentations they’d like to attend. The abstract is for the vetting board: It should explain your topic and approach, be far more in depth than your summary, and demonstrate your research, analysis, and conclusion.

In co-presented papers and lectures (including pre-empaneled papers), each presenter must provide a biography. In pre-empaneled papers, each presenter must also provide an abstract for their individual paper or lecture.

Room set-up includes a microphone, a podium and table, projection equipment, and a small dry erase board or easel. We can accommodate a variety of presentation styles, and we ask that, as part of your proposal, you specify how you will use projection equipment so that we can prioritize it for presentations that particularly need it. Presenters are welcome to stand or sit, though we do require that you use the microphone, as it makes your presentation more accessible to the audience.

 

Looking for help or inspiration?

  • Join us for a programming chat! Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can stop by to brainstorm, find collaborators, and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chat will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through March and April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Examples of summaries of past papers and lectures from Sirens:

  • “All the Queen’s Women”: Female Political Leadership in Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles by Joy Kim: The women of Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles are queens and pawns, survivors and victims, exiles and prisoners, young and old. This paper will explore how the author complicates traditional narratives of male heroism by offering alternative narratives of female political leadership through the stories of Isaboe, Quintana, and Phaedra. It will compare and contrast their leadership styles and journeys, and consider how their leadership and power is influenced by their age, sexuality, and romantic relationships.

  • Reclaiming Ruin: Hybridity, Toxicity, and Feminine Agency in Ruin and Rising by Leanna O’Brien: The magic of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, built under the guiding principal that like calls to like, is deeply entangled with questions of kind and category. However, Genya’s power to shape both organic and inorganic matter places her in a liminal space between two orders of magic, granting her the ability to exploit the porous membranes of her own body and of the distinctions between corporeal and mineral, life and non-life. Her hybridity opens a revolutionary potential for an alliance between feminine agencies and toxic environments, a breakdown of the categorical boundaries, and a reclamation of ruin.

  • IIntersecting Magics: Examining Assemblages of Magic and Technology in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti by Alyssa Collins: This paper examines the intersections of magic and technology in the novellas of Nnedi Okorafor. Okorafor’s Binti series prompts us to think about the particular ways in which the black fantastic and black technological practices align to create moments of history-making and memorialization, especially in the community-building moments after persecution or state violence. This paper examines not only the operations of such magic and technology in the text, but also gestures to the affordances of such magical and technological thinking in what can be seen as analogous memorializing and community-building moments in black contemporary culture.

  • Sorceresses Transgress: Examining Treatment of Female Magic Users by Casey Blair: Fantasy literature is rife with incredible sorceresses, witches, and other female magic users. Magic can be an avenue for female characters to play an integral role in an otherwise patriarchal narrative, but does that approach give women power, or is it another kind of trap? This paper will discuss the ways magic is used to empower and constrain female characters, from the evolution of tropes casting feminine magic as “good” or “evil” to the limitations and opportunities for female magic users in their worlds—and what that says about ours

And the two separate summaries from a set of pre-empaneled papers:

  • Reading Bodies by Bethany Powell and Charis M. Ellison:

    • The Page Is No Mirror: The Limited Bodies of Literature
      A woman checking out her sexiness in a way so rooted in male gaze as to be ridiculous makes the rounds of Lit-Twitter, and it is easy to laugh. The more troubling undercurrent takes more time to deal with–our bodies are often not on the page in a way we see them. Often, too, we are presented with false dichotomies: thin or fat? Strong or weak? Nerdy or athletic? Our bodies can be as complex in identity as our minds. This essay explores how we read outside ourselves and how disembodying that process can be.

    • Where Are the Fat Girls? The Absence of Plus-Size Characters in Fantasy Literature
      In popular culture, fat bodies are discussed most frequently in terms of negative space: pounds lost, dress sizes dropped, the empty half of a pair of giant trousers. This void extends deeply into the worlds of fantasy literature, art, and film. Despite the boundless opportunities presented by the genre for women to explore new worlds, identities, and power, fat women continue to be a notable absence. This presentation is both personal essay about the experience of being a fat woman, and an exploration of fat representation in fantasy, including discussion of existing fat characters and misconceptions about fat bodies.

 

2019 Programming: Tips, Tricks, and Frequently Asked Questions

Earlier this week, we posted about how Sirens’s programming works—and we highlighted how, each year, our programming is the collective work of our attendees. Regardless of your vocation, your level of experience, or your number of years at Sirens, you have something to say. And we hope that you’ll take a crack at sharing your thoughts and expertise as part of our programming this year!

Today, we have general programming information, how to find help from real people, tips and tricks for proposing programming, and answers to frequently asked questions on our programming process. Here we go!

 

General Information

  • We are accepting proposals from April 4 to May 15. All proposals must be submitted in full, including any supplemental abstracts for panels, by May 15, and all presenters must have “checked in” by following the links in emails that we send out when a main presenter indicates there will be a co-presenter.

  • The Sirens vetting board will make decisions by June 11. All accepted presenters must be registered and paid for Sirens by July 10.

  • We will have three scholarships (a 2019 Sirens registration and round-trip shuttle ticket) available for exemplary programming proposals. You can apply for these scholarships as part of the submissions process.

  • You can propose programming in a number of formats: papers or lectures (including as a set of pre-empaneled papers/lectures on a single topic), panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, afternoon classes, or a combination of multiple formats. (Please consult with the programming team before you submit a combination, though!)

  • You are welcome to present with co-presenters, except for roundtables, which must have a single moderator. Please note that the person submitting the proposal will be our main contact for the proposal (and in the case of a panel, will be the moderator). Again, please make sure that your collaborators are aware that they will need to confirm their participation by May 15—and in the case of panels and pre-empaneled papers, will need to submit a 300–500-word abstract of their own (note that the vetting board will review all abstracts in determining whether to select a proposal).

  • All communication is via email. Please use an email address to which you’ll have access throughout 2019, and that you check regularly.

  • Programming is reviewed and approved by an independent vetting board. All proposals are kept confidential.

  • Additional information can be found in Sirens’s official Call for Proposals.

 

Help from Real People

  • Programming Chats: Have questions? Looking for topic ideas or collaborators? Want some advice on selecting a presentation format? We’re holding two online chats with our programming team. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chats will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through March and April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org). They can’t guarantee your acceptance, but they’re full of helpful advice, and are glad to help you figure out the best format for your proposal, answer questions about the process, and so on.

 

Tips and Tricks

  • Everyone is welcome to propose programming! Sirens is a conference where readers and students present alongside authors and scholars, who present alongside librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. Everyone’s voice is valid, valuable, and necessary to our conversations and our community!

  • Look at past programming schedules. Our vetting board knows what topics have been presented in past years—and you should, too, so you don’t repeat them! New topics, or brand-new takes on old topics, will be considered more favorably. We make all our past programming available in our conference archive.

  • Go beyond introductory topics and analysis. Sirens is over ten years old, and we assure you, most Sirens attendees are well-versed in basic topics like “Reclaiming Fairy Tales” and “What is Diversity?” Push further the sophistication of your topic and your analysis.

  • Consider what type of presentation suits your topic best. We’ll be doing a deeper dive on each of these next week, but here’s a preview: papers and lectures are good for experts to convey information or frame an argument; panels are suitable for rigorous debate among experts with differing expertise or opinions; workshops and afternoon classes are perfect for hands-on explorations of practical topics; and roundtable discussions are great for topics where every audience member will have an opinion or contribution.

  • Focus on one or two proposals rather than several. This will help ensure your proposals are well-prepared and well-argued—and will increase their likelihood of acceptance.

  • Choose your co-presenters wisely. We strongly encourage you to seek out co-presenters with a variety of expertise, perspectives, and identities. Differences in expertise can bring additional thoughts and approaches to your work, while different perspectives and identities can enrich discussion and debate over your topic. (Bonus tip: If your topic is for people with complementary expertise to present information, we strongly encourage you to consider a paper or lecture with co-presenters, rather than a panel; the panel format is best suited for discussion and debate among panelists with different perspectives.)

  • Leave enough time to write a thoughtful summary and abstract. Since these descriptions are what the vetting board will judge your proposal on and will determine fellow attendees’ interest in your topic, it behooves you to not wait until the last minute! This is especially true for pre-empaneled papers and panels, where co-presenters must also submit an abstract by May 15.

  • You are not required to present on this year’s theme of heroes. Proposal topics must be relevant to Sirens, but do not need to address our theme for this year. Please do be sure that, at minimum, you’ve mentioned how your topic relates to fantasy!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for being a presenter at Sirens?
The only requirement is that you must be a Sirens attendee, which also means you have to be 18 years old by October 24, 2019. Otherwise, everyone is welcome to propose programming—and if accepted, to present it!

How can I find co-presenters or panelists?
You can tweet @sirens_con or post on the unofficial Sirens Attendees Facebook group. You might also be able to find co-presenters or co-panelists at our programming chats.

How many proposals can I submit?
There is technically no limit, but we recommend focusing on one or two as it usually makes for better-prepared (and better-received) proposals.

Can I change my proposal later?
Before the May 15 deadline, you can submit a correction or contact us to withdraw and resubmit the proposal. Following May 15, however, we will pass your proposal on to the vetting board and you can no longer make changes.

Can I contact the vetting board about my proposal?
Please direct any questions to (programming at sirensconference.org) instead. Vetting board members only review proposals, and we ask them to keep their reviews confidential.

Can I request a specific day and time to present?
The schedule depends on our ability to track presentations by type, theme, and audio-visual needs, so we can’t accommodate schedule preferences. If you have an immovable conflict, such as your grandmother’s 100th birthday party, please write to us at (programming at sirensconference.org).

I have more questions!
We have more answers! Write us at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

2019 Programming: We want your proposals!

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!

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 5 (April 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: VIOLET KUPERSMITH

Due to a very happy personal circumstance, Zen Cho will no longer be able to attend this year’s Sirens. Instead, the incomparable Violet Kupersmith will join us as our Hauntings guest this October! Violet is the author of The Frangipani Hotel, a collection of supernatural short stories about the legacy of the Vietnam War, and a forthcoming novel on ghosts and American expats in modern-day Saigon.

We’ve been enthusiastically recommending The Frangipani Hotel every year at Sirens since it was released. Her ghost stories are simultaneously retold Vietnamese folktales, an indictment of the Vietnam War, and an exquisite exploration of loss—of culture, of country, of family, of self. Her settings are palpable, her characters all-too-human, and her work brilliant, incisive, and subversive.

Please join us in welcoming Violet to Sirens! We have updated our reading lists and website, and you can read Violet’s full biography on our Guests of Honor page.

 

PROGRAMMING PROPOSALS DUE MAY 6

You have only seven days left to propose programming for this year’s Sirens! We hope that you’re considering submitting a proposal or two. You voice is valid and valuable, whether you’re new to Sirens or a ten-year veteran, and whether you’re a reader, scholar, librarian, farrier, secret-keeper, or heroine!

We are accepting proposals until May 6. For full information and instructions, please see our Programming Proposals page, as well as our series of blog posts on 2018 Programming, featuring programming types, tips, tricks, and general advice.

Have questions? Looking for a co-presenter? Need more inspiration? Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter; every Monday we tweet out fresh ideas free for the taking. We’ll also be hosting one more programming chat on our Chat page, which will be live at the scheduled time:

  • Tuesday, May 1, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

APPLY FOR SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS

Due to the tremendous generosity of the Sirens community, we have 12 scholarships to award this year: three for people of color, three for exemplary programming proposals, three for those with financial hardships, and three for librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. The deadline for financial hardship and professional scholarships is May 13. For more information, visit our Scholarships page.

Each scholarship includes a conference registration and a round-trip shuttle ticket. Please spread the word! If you’re eligible for a scholarship, we very much hope that you’ll apply. Everyone needs a helping hand or some extra encouragement sometimes, and we’re so grateful to the Sirens community for making this support possible.

 

TICKETS UPDATE

Studio and Supper tickets are nearly sold out! We currently have only 14 tickets remaining for our Sirens Studio and six tickets remaining for our Sirens Supper. If you’d like to purchase a ticket, you may do so in our registration system.

 

SIRENS MEET-UPS

Though nothing replaces attending Sirens in October, we occasionally host casual get-togethers for the Sirens community throughout the year. It can be a great way to introduce us to your friends (and vice versa), share a meal or a cup of tea, and chat about books with fellow Sirens community members! Here are the meet-ups in Denver and New York:

  • Denver: Saturday, May 5, 2–4 p.m. Mountain
  • New York City: Saturday, May 19, 2–4 p.m. Eastern

Please note that attendees must pay for their own drinks and food. RSVP to Jennifer at (jennifer.shimada at sirensconference.org). Please see our post for the full details.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The City of Brass

Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink talks personal reading quirks, reluctant heroines, and dazzling world-building in her book club pick this month—S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass—which she called, “in many, many, ways … a tour de force.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

Communications Director Faye tried her hand at young adult poetry this month for her 2018 Reading Challenge pick, Christine Heppermann’s Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. “The book is a handsome tome, pocket-sized with art and text laid out just-so, and Heppermann is clearly talented, even if her poems don’t speak to my experience as a former teenage girl.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 4 (March 2018), Programming Edition

In this issue:

 

SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS

Thank you to everyone who has already donated to our scholarship fundraiser! So far, we’ve raised 65% of our goal of $4,380.

We have already funded three scholarships for people of color, three for exemplary programming proposals, and one for those with financial hardships. If we meet our goal, we’ll provide another two for those with financial hardships and three for librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.

March 31 is the last day to donate toward this year’s scholarships, so if you can, please take a moment to chip in. Every amount helps us add more voices to Sirens!

Donate to Sirens Scholarships

If you need assistance attending Sirens, we hope you’ll apply for a scholarship. We’ll have application information on our Scholarships page starting next week!

Sirens logos 2014-2018, 2018 highlighted

2018 PROGRAMMING

All of Sirens’s programming—the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes presented at Sirens each year—is crafted, proposed, and presented by Sirens attendees. We hope that, this year, that will include you! From April 2 to May 6, anyone planning to attend Sirens this year, regardless of vocation, level of experience, or years at Sirens, is welcome to propose programming—and if selected, present that programming at Sirens. Our programming series provides an overview of the proposal process, an examination of each type of programming, and advice for preparing your proposal:

Since our 2018 theme is reunion, we discussed that theme and revisited our past four years’ themes on our blog for additional inspiration. If you’re new to Sirens, you can learn more about each theme at each of these links: reunion, hauntings, rebels and revolutionaries, lovers, and women who work magic. If you’re a returning attendee, we invite you to take a stroll down memory lane with us!

Have questions? Looking for a co-presenter? Need more inspiration? Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter; every Monday in April we’ll tweet fresh ideas free for the taking. In addition, we’ll be hosting two programming chats on our Chat page, which will be live at the scheduled times:

  • Saturday, April 7, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
  • Tuesday, May 1, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

For her March book club, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink muses on villainy in Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns: “A villain story is, by definition, about the bad guy. Otherwise, the villain wouldn’t be a villain at all, of course, but a deeply conflicted heroine or even an antiheroine.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

An Ember in the Ashes

How’s that 2018 Reading Challenge coming along? For hers, Communications Director Faye Bi reads and reviews Sabaa Tahir’s popular An Ember in the Ashes, with ruminations on young adult literature, fantasy, and bestseller-dom: “It bothers me when people cast down young adult fantasy for being more simplistic and less rigorous than adult fantasy, with worldbuilding just the backdrop for the kissing, the angst, and the feelings.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …

Sirens Scholarship Fundraising:

2018 Programming:

Themes:

 


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

 

2018 Programming: Workshops and Afternoon Classes

Sirens programming is the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes that make up the heart of Sirens. For our 2018 programming series, we’re doing a deeper dive on each presentation format; this information will both help potential presenters select the proper format for their approach to their topic and provide details on proposal requirements. We also suggest that potential presenters read how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. Earlier this week, we reviewed papers/lectures and panels, and roundtable discussions. You can submit a proposal any time from April 2 to May 6.

Workshop are an opportunity to teach practical skills, often through hands-on instruction. Workshops sometimes feature writing topics, such as building magical worlds or how to form an effective critique group, but can just as easily tackle different topics for different audiences: how to plan a book club, where to find resources for library collection development, or how to create a feminist course curriculum based on fantasy reading.

Afternoon classes are also an opportunity to teach skills through hands-on instruction, though these skills tend to be of interest to fantasy readers—but may not be connected directly to literature or other media. Think topics as diverse as battle weaponry, self-defense, historical dress or dance, and costume construction.

Audience size for both workshops and afternoon classes will be 25–40 people, depending on available room size.

The boundary between a workshop and an afternoon class can be thin, so feel free to write us at (programming at sirensconference.org) for guidance.

Co-taught workshops or afternoon classes are welcome. Collaborators who have similar or complementary expertise may wish to present together, either to maximize the opportunity for hands-on instruction or to present different skills on the topic (such as clothing construction and embroidery).

Materials, if needed, are provided by the presenters. If your workshop or afternoon class is accepted, you are welcome to request a small donation from audience members to defray costs. Please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) for assistance in framing the wording for your summary.

Workshops are always 50 minutes long. If you have a topic that’s shorter than 50 minutes, you might consider finding a collaborator to present on some other element of the topic. Presenters should strongly consider hands-on elements and time for audience questions.

Afternoon classes can range from 50 to 90 minutes. Often these topics require additional time for instruction or practice (or, to provide one past example, taking turns stabbing a bale of hay with battle weaponry). We also often schedule afternoon classes in larger spaces, particularly if they’re demonstration-based or require room to move (such as martial arts or dancing).

Proposal requirements include a presenter biography (50–100 words), a presentation summary (50–100 words), and a detailed abstract (300–500 words). We will publish the biography and the summary on our website and in our program book to help attendees navigate our programming and decide which presentations they’d like to attend. Each presenter must provide a biography, though no supplemental abstract is required. The abstract is for the vetting board. It should explain your topic and approach and be far more in depth than your summary. Presenters of workshops and afternoon classes may present a traditional abstract or, if they prefer, a detailed lesson plan.

Room set-up will depend heavily on the content and design of your presentation, as well as the available room. Set-up often includes tables and chairs with space for audience members to write or craft, though, if your topic is physical, we will help clear the room so you have space to work. Projection equipment and a small dry erase board or easel may be available as well (though we will ask you to specify how you will use projection equipment so that we can prioritize it for presentations that particularly need it, and make sure to clear it away if it might be damaged). If the room size warrants, we will provide a microphone (and if we do, we require that you use it, as it makes your presentation more accessible to the audience).

 

Looking for help or inspiration?

  • Join us for a programming chat!: Anyone interested in submitting a proposal can stop by to brainstorm, find collaborators, and get one-on-one advice from our programming staff. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chat will be held here at the following times:

    Saturday, April 7, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
    Tuesday, May 1, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Find a mentor!: As a new initiative this year, we’ve asked some past Sirens presenters to be available as mentors for new folks submitting programming proposals. They’re available to share information on the Sirens audience, review your research and arguments, and help you craft your proposal itself. If you’re interested, please email Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org) to get connected.

  • Free Topics: All through April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Examples of summaries of past workshops and afternoon classes from Sirens:

  • Ballads and Marching Songs by Ellen Kushner and Ysabeau Wilce: “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing!” said Duke Ellington. As authors, we are very aware of how sound and rhythm inform good writing, and so we heartily agree! We also draw on music, particularly traditional music of the fireside and the parade ground, to inspire and support our work. And so: Ellen will sing some of the traditional ballads that inspired her novel Thomas the Rhymer, and Ysabeau will counter with some of the military ditties that form the backdrop to the campfires, parade grounds, and blind tigers of her Califa series. We’ll then turn around and show participants how to create a fresh ballad or marching song that fits the needs of an original fantasy novel.

  • Let’s Talk About Sex: Worldbuilding Through Lovers by B R Sanders: What counts as sex? What counts as love? Who is allowed to do what to whom and why? What happens when rules are broken? When you are worldbuilding, these questions can become murky and complicated very quickly. In this workshop, we will explore how using themes of romance, sex, love, queerness, and marriage can deeply inform worldbuilding in speculative fiction.

  • No Key, No Problem by Erynn Moss: When fighting the establishment, it helps to have a few picks up your sleeves. Or in your hair, under your collar, clipped to your belt … you get the idea. Come join us in some subversive fun! Tumblers, bumpers, Bogota picks, and shims. Work your way free from cuffs, and hone your hands with the tips and tools of professionals.

  • Siren with a Sword: Fencing 101 by Manda Lewis and Marie Brennan: Have you always wanted to join your favorite character on the training grounds where she first picks up a blade? Have you wished yourself in her place as she readies for the attack? This class will provide you the opportunity to do just that! Join us as we explore the history, terminology, and rules of the sport of fencing. Then you’ll take up a foil and practice what you’ve learned with your fellow attendees. You will see that fencing is not simply about overpowering your opponent, it’s about planning and strategy. We recommend wearing comfortable or athletic clothing.

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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