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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 several years ago, but we think they’re still very relevant.

Presenting a Paper by Hallie Tibbetts, one of Sirens’s past programming coordinators

Presenting a Panel by Amy Tenbrink, one of this year’s conference chairs (but one note: the process for proposing panels will be changing this year—more information coming soon!)

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 8, 2017.
 
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 post 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 Sunday, April 9, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern or Saturday, April 22, 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.
 

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.

Perspective: Presenting a Workshop or Afternoon Class

Today we present thoughts from Manda Lewis, who—among other roles—creates most of the art for Sirens, on why presenting an afternoon class worked for her.

In 2012, my friend Erynn and I wanted to run an afternoon class on a topic we both loved. As we both enjoy costuming and creating clothing, we thought teaching a sewing basic class would be a lot of fun. It also seems like a topic that comes up in fantasy literature in many ways, either through thread or textile magic, showcasing talent, or even basic survival. We thought running through basic hand stitching and embroidery techniques would work well, teach participants something they didn’t know, and facilitate discussion about sewing in the books we love, so we proposed an afternoon class titled “Thread Magic: Hand Sewing for Beginners.”

We laid out a basic lesson plan that included an attention step (talking about stories and characters we’ve seen use sewing as a plot point), a materials overview, a few basic pointers, construction stitches, and decorative stitches. Erynn and I created a PowerPoint presentation since we thought it would be good to have some close–ups of the items we wanted to show. We had to do a little research, but it was easy to pull information from a lot of the materials we had at home. Both of us have a lot of craft and sewing books!

When the time came for the class, we ran through the beginning of our lesson quickly so we’d have a lot of time for folks to do the hands on activity. Participants picked fabric, thread, and needles and then tried out all of the stitches we had talked through. With two of us running the class, it was easy for us to move around to everyone and provide instruction and help where needed.

Teaching an afternoon class was a lot of fun and I felt like we engaged in Sirens in a different way than we had in other years. I hope we were able to give the audience some skills to take home and try so they could make their own thread magic!

Here’s our summary for “Thread Magic: Hand Sewing for Beginners”:

Alanna tells us that a woman with a bit of string in her hands can bring down a troupe of armed knights if her will is strong enough. Thread magic weaves its way throughout fantasy literature and we’ve even seen some of our favorite characters dabble in textile arts for fun or necessity. This class will teach participants the basics of construction and decorative stitching. By the end, participants will create a final project for charity and be a little more armed when they find a bit of string in their hands. $2 donation for materials is requested.

For our abstract, we submitted a lesson plan:

Lesson Plan:
The objective of this afternoon class is to teach attendees the principles of hand sewing for construction and decoration.

Attention Step: (5 minutes)
The lesson will begin with various quotes from fantasy novels that show characters sewing, weaving, or engaging in some form of textile art. Students will also be asked what examples they can think of from books or media that they’ve read or watched.

  • Marian in Outlaws of Sherwood sews clothing and makes tapestries
  • Alanna and her protégé in Woman Who Rides like a Man use thread magic
  • Sandry in the Circle of Magic books uses sewing and spinning to control magic
  • Herald Talia in The Heralds of Valdemar series helps to sew uniforms at the collegium
  • Hanna in Bleeding Violet sews clothing for herself and her mother

Tools and Materials Overview: (10 minutes)
The first topic that will be covered will be the basic tools used in hand sewing. Examples of each will be brought to be passed around so the students can become familiar with them and see the differences.

  • Thread (different types and what they’re best suited for)
  • Needles (different types and what they’re used for)
  • Thimbles
  • Pins
  • Fabric (different types and what they’re best suited for)
  • Shears (different types and what they’re used for)
  • Other: marking pencils, threaders, irons, etc.

Threading the Needle and Knotting Thread: (3 minutes)
Threading a needle will be demonstrated and then students will have the opportunity to try it out with their own materials.

Using a Thimble: (5 minutes)
The technique for sewing using a thimble to aid in pushing the needle through fabric will be demonstrated and time will be given for students to practice.

Construction Stitches: (20 minutes)
Stitches will be demonstrated followed by a few minutes for students to practice the stitch with their materials.

  • Straight stitch/Running stitch
  • Backstitch
  • Overhand stitch
  • Whipstitch

Decorative Stitches: (20 minutes)
Stitches will be demonstrated followed by a few minutes for students to practice the stitch with their materials.

  • Blanket Stitch
  • Chainstitch
  • French Knot
  • Lazy Daisy

Project: (30 minutes)
The students will have 30 minutes to work on a small sewing project using the skills they have learned in the class so far. The project will be a small pillow. Once completed, the pillows will be donated to breast cancer patients who use them for comfort post–mastectomy. Instructions will be given and each student will have a print out to refer to. The teachers will move around the room helping students as they complete the project.

Closure: (2 minutes)
The lesson will end with a discussion about using textile arts to create magic in our own lives that parallels what we’ve read or seen in our favorite stories. Students will also be given a hand out with diagrams for the stitching they’ve learned in the class.

Materials:

  • 15 Spools of thread
  • 30 Fat Squares of quilting fabric
  • Stuffing
  • Several sets of scissors to share
  • 30–40 needles
  • Example needles of various types
  • Pins
  • Projector and screen

If you love to get hands–on with fantasy, we recommend a workshop or afternoon class!

Go back: All the posts tagged with programming

 

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.

Perspective: Presenting a Roundtable Discussion

Today we present thoughts from Sarah Benoot, who regularly coordinates special programs for Sirens, on why presenting a roundtable discussion worked for her.

For me, roundtable discussions are my favorite way of hearing from lots of different people, all at once, and having discussions that start out in one place, but surprise me, too.

I’m going to be blunt: it’s not always easy to moderate a roundtable discussion. It can be tough to interrupt people, and it’s tough to figure out if that person on the other side of the (small) room—whose nametag you can’t quite see from your seat—is gathering her thoughts, or if she would have lots to say if you asked if she had anything to add. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the topic, if you are passionate about it, and you have to remember to give yourself some distance so that you can listen to everyone. Sometimes, the audience members are coming from really different places, and they’re trying to negotiate what might be a really complex conversation, and you as the moderator have to help them do that. You have to decide, on the fly, if things are healthily in disagreement—or not. And you want to have at least a couple of questions that will generate some conflict!

At the same time, that’s part of the fun. Sirens attendees are really thoughtful, and have a lot to say. If you’re energized by great discussions, and you don’t mind taking the lead in a group, you should consider proposing a roundtable discussion.

One of my first roundtable discussions for Sirens was pretty general. (I’ve led two roundtable discussions related to Game of Thrones, and those worked because the series is widely read; they would have had a lot of dead air, otherwise. Your roundtable might have to address a theme or topic in several different books or series so that the audience has a way in to the discussion.)

This was my summary for “Not Overshadowed by Awesome: Girls on the Side”:

Sidekicks. Backup. Whatever name you use, they serve the same purpose: to help the main character succeed in their quest. Without them, the world would not be saved, the crime would not be solved, the quest would not be successful. Despite being relegated to a secondary role, the girls on the side can be an important part of a story in their own right. What would Harry have been without Hermione (J. K. Rowling), or what fate would have befallen Olympus if Percy hadn’t had Annabeth (Rick Riordan)? What lessons might Beka have missed if not for Clary Goodwin (Tamora Pierce)?

My abstract, which uses the sample questions format:

  1. Is the female sidekick the “heart” of the male hero by default?
  2. Does a female sidekick tend to serve as a tool for exposition more often than a male sidekick? (For example, Harry Potter often gets his information from Hermione’s reading rather than Ron’s experience actually growing up in the wizarding world.)
  3. In the case of a male hero supported by a female sidekick, there is often a romantic component in their relationship. Does this tend to have a negative or a positive effect on the story?
  4. The roles of sidekick and mentor are rarely filled by the same character. What impact does it have when they are?
  5. What happens when the sidekick comes into power of her own?
  6. Does she become a hero herself, or a villain? Is she more likely to become a villain than a male sidekick in the same situation?
  7. Is a female sidekick more likely to be sacrificed “for the greater good” than a male sidekick?
  8. Which do you think tends to be more successful: a partnership where power of the hero-sidekick relationship is often based in friendship, or one where previous enemies are forced to work together? Can you argue for a more successful partnership?
  9. Is the success or lack thereof affected by the genders of the characters?
  10. When the hero professes to prefer to work alone, is it usually the female sidekick who convinces him otherwise? If so, why?

If you love to talk through big ideas with people, consider leading a roundtable discussion!

Go back: All the posts tagged with programming

 

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.

Perspective: Presenting a Panel

Today we present thoughts from conference chair Amy Tenbrink on why presenting a panel worked for her.

I have two go-to presentation formats: panels and roundtables. You might wonder why, since it might seem strange at first that someone might have preferred presentation styles—but I bet that most people have presentation styles that make them most comfortable or that most often allow them to accomplish their presentation goals.

For me, it’s panels and roundtables because both formats include multiple viewpoints and multiple voices. Let me assure you that it’s not about the workload; I am a meticulous planner of questions for both panelists and roundtables. And if you know me, you know that it’s not about alleviating nerves with friendly panelists or a discussion room of participants—though lots of people choose these formats because they find them less intimidating.

Since lots of people submit roundtables, Sirens asked me to talk a bit about panels. I tend to choose panels when I want two things: (1) to present a topic that requires input from more than just me, either because I don’t have sufficient expertise or because having multiple voices is vital to the vibrancy of the topic; and (2) it’s a topic that is best presented by experts to an audience (perhaps with questions), rather than a topic that is best presented through a moderated audience discussion (as a roundtable is).

One example is the 2014 Sirens panel, “The Importance—and Business—of Diversity in Fantasy Literature by Women.” As you might expect, the panel discussed the importance of diversity in fantasy literature, but focused more specifically on the business challenges of diversifying the books that are ultimately published and sold in stores. Since most Sirens attendees have a lot to say about diversity, but very little insight into the publishing industry, I assembled a panel that included a librarian, an agent, and a marketing expert from a publishing house (and also invited both an editor and an author, who were not able to attend). The expertise of the panel—and the range of expertise on the panel—was vital to the success of the topic, though we did invite questions from the audience.

Another example is the presentation below, which I prepared for one of Narrate Conferences’ Harry Potter conferences. The topic is “Love Is a Battlefield: Authorship, Ownership, and Fan Appropriation,” which addressed the complex relationship between copyright owners and fans in 2008, when fandoms were exploding, despite copyright owners’ then-aggressive attempts to leash them. My co-panelist and I combined my copyright knowledge with her academic work in fan studies to present a panel that required both in order to be successful. This topic would not have made a great roundtable discussion, because it relied on us providing information and discussing our perspectives on the topic more than on audience discussion.

This was my summary for “Love Is a Battlefield: Authorship, Ownership, and Fan Appropriation”:

As participatory culture blurs the lines between creators and fans, the definitions of “authorship,” “ownership” and “control” likewise become distorted. Creators continue to hold the trump cards of copyright and money, but fans level the field through group action and the speed of the internet. Join us to review the history of creator/fan relations in the Harry Potter fandom: cease and desist letters for fan sites, then adult-oriented archives; the Harmonian uprising; the queering of canon characters and the rejection of Dumbledore’s sexuality; the LiveJournal Strikethrough; and even the RDR Books lawsuit. Then discuss with us this shifting battlefield and what it is that creators and fans really want, and what’s culturally and creatively at stake.

And this was my abstract, which is on the longer side; it’s also okay to have a paragraph or two and some sample questions:

Since the invention of the printing press and the accompanying advent of the concept of copyright, creators have sought total control over their work, and others—later users, developers, artists, fans—have attempted to wrest pieces of that control away for the collective good, for personal creativity, even for profit. Creators claim authorship and therefore ownership, but others argue that their use of a creator’s work is legal, permitted by policy, or sometimes morally valid.

Copyright law has given the legal advantage to creators and corporations, but copyright law, even with the complications of fair use, is only one piece of a larger whole. Both creators and corporations have frequently employed money, attorneys, and until recently, a near-monopoly on access to media outlets to fight battles by any means necessary. Modern communications, however, have provided secondary users with additional tools, and they have begun to use those tools to significant advantage. The capabilities of the internet and the speed at which groups of later users can disseminate information has changed the game, especially when contrasted with the snail’s pace at which creators and the corporate world can react when governed by Boards of Directors, lawyers, and incomplete information.

As groups of users gain more ground, the battles between creators and corporations, on one hand, and fans and other groups on the other, grow more heated, more equal, and more complicated. While creators and corporations still hold the traditional advantages, they grow frustrated with the hydra-like qualities of the fan community and the speed at which it moves. While fans and other groups have created loose collective units, they are impatient with the measured steps of creators and corporations and the willingness to employ resources to which fans have only limited access.

The Harry Potter fan community is a fascinating microcosm when examining evolving relationships between creators and fans because the examples abound. In the early days of fan sites, Warner Bros. sent many threatening letters, some of them to teen fans. Warner Bros. eventually backed off, but several years later Rowling went after archives that allowed minors to view NC-17 fan works. Plagiarism is a battle that the fans more or less wrested from creators other than Rowling, but the cost was the loss of respect from other fans. Conferences changed the landscape by forcing Warner Bros.’s hand on many fair use issues, and were followed by Warner Bros.’s allowing other fan creations, such as wizard rock. The publication of Order of the Phoenix raised a new issue: fans eviscerating Rowling for writing “bad fanfic” and killing characters; that was the first time that a group of Harry Potter fans wholly rejected a canon work. Half-Blood Prince triggered another fan uprising, this time from the Harmonians, when Rowling paired Hermione with Ron instead of Harry. 2007 brought a list of clashes: Strikethrough 2007 on LiveJournal, the backlash and division following the announcement that Dumbledore is gay, the utter rejection of the Epilogue, discussion of whether Rowling’s ever-changing additional information is canon, and of course, RDR Books facing down the Warner Bros. juggernaut over Steve VanderArk’s encyclopedia. Indeed, sometimes even businesses end up on the fan side of the equation, as evidenced by Warner Bros.’ significant restrictions on booksellers’ Deathly Hallows release parties. Finally, 2007 saw the founding of the Organization for Transformative Works, an effort by a group of fans to level the legal playing field that has been excoriated by the media—and by other fans.

This panel will examine relationships between creators and those who consume their work. It will briefly dissect the law underlying the issues, including the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Miller and Communications Decency Act cases governing obscenity. It will review the history of creator/fan relations, including how the participatory leanings of new media and participatory culture have affected that relationship. Ultimately, it will discuss how the battlefield between creators and fans has shifted over the years and where it is now.

In short, I love panels. I love putting together experts and voices from different fields with different experiences for a moderated, sophisticated conversation. For me, that’s one of the best things about Sirens: the opportunity to have those conversations in ways that, for whatever reason, aren’t always available. Bring on the panels!

Go back: All the posts tagged with programming

 

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.

Perspective: Presenting a Paper

Today we present thoughts from Hallie Tibbetts, Sirens’s programming coordinator, on why presenting a paper worked for her.

Last year, I decided to propose a paper for Sirens. I knew I’d be going back to school, and a paper is a really, really good excuse to miss class—and for me, as an introvert and a staff member, the more we get into the weekend that is Sirens, the more I need something pre-written to help me organize my thoughts. I’m tired—happy, but tired—and I’m not really able to think on my feet, which can make participating on a panel, teaching a workshop, or leading a roundtable challenging for me. (Really. I’m not sure that what comes out of my mouth makes sense by Friday afternoon, sometimes!)

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a paper at first, or even whether I wanted to have a shorter paper (a 25-minute time slot) or a longer one (a 50-minute time slot, for slightly longer papers and audience discussion). Papers, lectures, and presentations are great ways to inform the audience when you know about something they might not, to analyze things, to compare and contrast, and to go into research. I had some blog posts that would make great jumping-off points, and I thought about grabbing a couple of people to put together a set of short, pre-empaneled papers, too.

In the end, I proposed “It’s Coming from Inside the Dollhouse,” about haunted toys in middle grade books. Over the summer, I (re)read the books and jotted down thoughts on each, so that when it came time to write my paper—which isn’t, actually, a requirement, but something I needed to do so I had something to read from—it was easy work. Since I had my presentation finished in advance, I just read over it a few days before my presentation to check on my timing, made a few notes, and brought a copy along to Sirens. After I read my paper, the audience had a lively discussion about the topic, which was pretty amazing.

This was my summary:

Literature for young people in the 1970s and ‘80s included a number of scary stories, including The Dollhouse Murders and The Doll in the Garden. Haunted toys can still be found in books like Doll Bones. This paper will explore haunted objects in books that have been aimed at young readers of yesterday and today.

My abstract, which is a little on the short side, but still okay:

Much “middle grade fiction” limits its scope is to family, friends, or a child’s immediate community, and to finding a place for oneself within those boundaries; young adult fiction typically pushes the young person toward adulthood. Haunted toys, or hauntings that include toys, seem to occupy a liminal space between young adult and middle grade, where no bookstore dares go, but where children must leave behind games and face a harsher reality. These stories show up in works including The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Wren Wright (originally published in 1948, and in new editions as recently as 1995), The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn (1989), and Doll Bones by Holly Black (2013). This paper will examine the use of haunted toys in these and other books as markers of the unnatural, particularly for children, and explore what makes a scary story for young readers, as well as address the shift in focus for these books over the years from younger to older middle grade readers.

I recommend giving papers (or lectures, or talks) a try! I’m already brainstorming one for this year.

Go back: All the posts tagged with programming

 

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.

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