WisCon 40 Program Ideas

Submissions are open for programming ideas for WisCon 40!

What are we looking for? WisCon encourages programming that has at least implicit, but preferably explicit, recognition of and engagement with an expansive definition of feminism. We encourage programming that is attentive to issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, and other issues of oppression and/or identity politics. If you need more guidance for an idea, please look at the tracks we've developed, further down on this page.

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Wiscon's tracks help members by grouping like concepts together. They also serve as guidance for those submitting ideas because they tell you what we care about and what we're interested in. Of course, there's always lots of cross-pollination. Indicate the track(s) into which you think your idea best fits. If none seem appropriate, don't worry--our crack programming committee will use their best judgment to place it appropriately.

Feminism and Other Social Change Movements

Is your first thought on reading this track title, which feminism? Or, whose feminism? Do you think "feminism and other social change" is redundant, because to you feminism encompasses all other axes of social change organizing and should be, to borrow a phrase, the Prime Directive? Do you fear that for too many people (at WisCon and beyond), feminism is imagined no more widely or progressively than "equal pay for equal work (for white middle-class women)?" Are you energized by the prospect of discussing the various things we all mean when we say "feminism" - which perspectives, issues, and values are inherent and which anathema - and likewise with social change movements organized around "race," class, disability, sexuality, nationality, and so on?

Do you see infinite tentacles of connection and common cause among social change movements such as feminism, anti-racism, disability rights, GLBT equality, and anti-imperialism?

In previous years, WisCon programming in these areas has examined progressive notions of justice in the context of the U.S. law enforcement system, mined science fiction for ideas about effecting radical social change without the use of violence, examined recent and historical science fiction through the lens of post-colonial theory, and talked directly about the evolution of social change movements in the "real world" where science fiction fans live and work. We look forward to your programming ideas that invigorate our understanding of, and commitment to, social change in all its forms.

Power, Privilege, and Oppression

Are you excited by the ways science fiction and fantasy can be used to explore social constructs such as race or sexuality? Are you fascinated with science fiction that blows away the attitudinal barriers that currently exist for people with disabilities? Does your favorite science fiction challenge dichotomous thinking on gender? Are you interested in joining the on-going WisCon discussion of cultural appropriation in science fiction and fantasy?

Science fiction can serve as a tool to challenge the status quo, empower the disenfranchised, and create worlds that redistribute power and rethink privilege. Many of us have been drawn to science fiction and fantasy because we've been marginalized as "others." We want to imagine a world in which we are accepted and respected. We invite programming proposals that discuss these issues, opening up more and increasingly complex dialogues, in the context of science fiction, fandom, and the world at large.

We are looking for programming ideas that use science fiction and fantasy to examine the ways power and privilege are used to exercise, consolidate, and maintain control over oppressed individuals and groups. How do our identities (whether chosen or imposed) privilege or oppress us and others? Although we recognize the importance of specific programming to explore particular identities, we encourage ideas that promote diverse personal and political perspectives. While the identities and standpoints vary and overlap, the mechanisms of subjugation are often the same. As the t-shirt says, "same struggle, different difference."

Previous WisCon programs on these topics have used science fiction and fantasy texts, concepts, and ideas to illustrate and explore the axes around which relations of domination and/or identity politics have been organized, such as class, gender, race, ability, sexuality and body image.

Spirituality, Organized Religion and Politics

Does the mere title of this track as part of a feminist science fiction convention confuse or concern you? Are you someone who feels that organized religion has no place in a rational, scientific world? Are you a person of faith who feels less than welcome in fandom? Are you concerned that religious conviction has become the litmus test for candidates at all levels of America politics? Are you a Christian who doesn't belong to the Christian Right and feels misrepresented by them? Are you a non-Christian who wants to remind the world that not all people of faith are Christians? Do you want to explore science fiction works that focus on religious themes such as conceptions of an afterlife, sin and morality? Are you excited about the innovative and creative ways science fiction authors have envisioned new spiritualities or developed twists on current religions that skillfully weave in ancient world mythologies?

In past years, some of the topics we've discussed in this area include: morality in the absence of organized religion; the absence of morality in some organized religions; whether there is a Religious Left and what it's doing in the world; the state of American politics around religious issues and issues that are being influenced by some religions; the treatment of Muslims in a post-9/11 world; and the growing popularity and acceptance of spirituality sometimes combined with, and sometimes in contrast to organized religion-and, of course, how all of this is represented, or sometimes not, in science fiction and fantasy, and in fandom. Recognizing how important these issues are to those involved, and the passion involved, we look forward to the opportunity to learn from and share with one another on these and related topics.

Science and Technology

Do you want to give a solo presentation on technologies that could transform our lives, or have already transformed yours? Do you want to organize a panel of experts on the social, economic, or political implications of current directions in research in science and technology? Do you want to compare the ways that science and technology are represented in science fiction with the way they're represented in the press or taught in schools and colleges? Do you want to lead a discussion on a particular application of science and technology that you think more people should know about and/or take action about? We're interested in programming proposals on any of the above and we're willing and eager to have our horizons expanded further in terms of topic or programming format.

Whilst your suggestion need not be explicitly focused through the lens of science fiction, we take it for granted that you will recognize that science fiction fans have particular, and perhaps critical, investments in the possibilities offered by science and technology. Linking your explorations of science and technology in social reality to similar or conflicting visions in science fiction will likely make your session more resonant for your audience.

The Craft and Business of Writing

Want to be a feminist science fiction writer when you grow up? Are you an editor or agent who wants to share your insight? Do you want to workshop out your writer's block, or brainstorm plots, or learn how to construct well-rounded characters who do not share your background and experiences? Do you wish to discuss markets, or an aspect of day-to-day practice, or tools, or techniques? Then there's a place for you in WisCon programming.

We are interested in programming proposals that address the nuts and bolts of the writing craft. Solo presentations, peer-led workshops, and traditional panels are all possible formats to consider - and if you have another format you want to try, we're interested! Proposals that wrestle with issues of feminism, gender, class, sexuality, "race," disability, and other related issues in the context of writing practice are especially welcome.

Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction

Is a tight focus on the ins and outs of science fiction texts the main draw for you, whether we're talking about the feminist science fiction and fantasy novels and short fiction that have been WisCon's traditional focus, or the proliferation of other F&SF media, including film, television and gaming? Could you offer WisCon attendees a novel way to read 'classic' feminist SF texts, or do you want to focus on the latest works of our current Guests of Honor? Are you burning to discuss the gender and ethnicity stereotyping that has characterized Season Two of Heroes? Or the more subtle gender dynamics in The Golden Compass? Wondering why spunky YA heroines all seem to be cast from the same mold? Have you found a new feminist novel that you love, and want to spread the word? Want to critique the lack of people of color, or the persistence of normative gender roles, or the class politics in a particular vision of the future, be it written or viewed? This is the place for discussions centered around books, movies, TV shows, and other media.

Past WisCon panels in this category have discussed the theory and practice of slash fanfic; the lack of diversity in SF/F television; appreciations and discussions of Buffy, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Battlestar Galactica, and Ginger Snaps; a look at women in horror films and in the X-Men comics; fairy tales and feminism; and an attempt to answer the question, "what do writers owe their readers?

WisCon is thrilled to be a convention that disrupts hierarchies amongst writers, fans, academics, fans, editors, fans and other fans! We hope we're all fans of some intersection of feminism and science fiction, and that our shared passion and knowledge will enrich the conversations - whatever label we or others choose to apply to our particular location in the field. So if you're wondering whether you're qualified to participate in this track, wonder no longer: you are.

Fandom as a Way of Life
[More>>][Less<<] Fandom--the collection of participatory cultures that appreciate, debate, analyze, and interpret various expessions of popular culture--is itself a subculture that has its own jargon, traditions, politics, and folkways.

If you're interested in discussing fandom as a way of life--that is, the cultural practices that cut across all fandoms as well as the sometimes serious business of producing and running conventions, fan publications, and fannish organizations--this track is for you.

[More>>][Less<<] Gaming - many people love gaming, and a lot of us attend the convention. There's an intersection of participants in the gaming sphere that appreciates, debates, analyzes, and interpret various expressions of this aspect of popular culture. Gaming unto itself is a subculture that has its own jargon, traditions, politics, and pathways.

If you're interested in discussing all the intersections of gaming as a way of life--that is, the culture of it, from mobile, to platform to PC gaming that cuts across all genres as well as the sometimes serious business of creating, writing, critiquing and talking about all aspects of gaming--this track is for you.

Panel       Solo Presentation       Roundtable       Other Format (Describe Below)