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09 February 2011 @ 10:31 am
Our Annual Get Involved with Programming Series: Part One  
Sirens programming gets started many months before we enjoy it in October. Maybe you've been brainstorming already; maybe you're going to join this weekend's brainstorming chat; maybe you're waiting to see if someone gives away a great idea in a LiveJournal topic exchange post. Maybe you haven't thought about it at all yet. The deadline for proposals is May 7, 2011, so you've got three months to work on a programming proposal. That's plenty of time!

The programming at Sirens--the papers, panels, workshops, discussions, and even afternoon classes--is designed, developed, and presented by attendees. We encourage you to make a proposal to be a presenter, because the perspectives and inquiries of attendees make for an exciting--and relevant--programming schedule.

If you've done research, participated an interesting blog or book club conversation, or worked on something else fantasy-related, you probably have something to share that will be very interesting to other attendees. If you have questions about something related to fantasy literature, if you know something about its production, or if you're fascinated by elements that commonly appear in fantasy, you also probably have something to share that will be very interesting to other attendees.

Please read on for an overview, and in the coming weeks, we'll tackle how to put together a proposal.

Here are some quick facts about programming in general:
  • All presenters are selected based on their proposals to an independent board. This board reviews proposals and selects a balanced, diverse schedule from the offerings.

  • Anyone may be a presenter. In fact, we prefer that the programming be presented by a mix of scholars, professionals, and fans. Readers, authors, publishers, scientists, psychologists, mathematicians, librarians, historians--and any other broad category you might be able to think of--all have interesting perspectives, and we hope that they'll share. We hope, specifically, that you will jump in and share.

  • We have some guidelines for presentations so that we can create a coherent schedule that will fit in the time and space we have available.

  • Collaboration is encouraged! Except for roundtable discussions, where the participants need to have a single moderator, you're welcome to make your presentation with another person, or with several others.

  • Proposals are accepted via our online system and are due no later than May 7, 2011.

  • You may submit a proposal even if you are not registered yet, but you must be registered by June 30, 2011, to confirm your participation if your proposal is chosen for Sirens.


The Call for Proposals
If you're coming from an academic background, a call for papers or proposals might be somewhat familiar; if you're coming from a fan or professional background, it might not. A call for proposals (or papers) formally sets out a conference's theme, desired presentations, and presentation requirements. It also gives a brief overview of the process by which proposals will be selected.

An independent vetting board will read all of the proposals and decide which proposals to accept for Sirens in 2011. This invitation-only group has knowledge on the topics that we expect the majority of programming proposals will address, and they represent a variety of scholarly, professional, and reader/fan perspectives. We have a board to make sure that proposals are fairly evaluated by people who have a strong collective knowledge of current trends, scholarship, events, and so on; we feel it is most fair to have proposals evaluated by a group of people who know and appreciate what you want to talk about.

Please don't be intimidated by this process! The worst case scenario is your proposal isn't selected for this year. There will likely be some very good proposals that we must decline. You're more than welcome to revamp your proposal and submit it again in the future. Unfortunately, we aren't able to provide feedback for declined proposals; our vetting board has graciously agreed to read the submitted proposals, but we don't ask them to provide written evaluations of each proposal. That said, there are a number of things you can do to increase the chances of your proposal being accepted. We'll post about these in more depth in the future, but keep these tips in mind.

  • While we ask for contact information and certain preferences to verify your registration status, this is kept confidential and not shared with the vetting board, volunteers, or third parties. The vetting board sees the name you'd like listed on the schedule, the title of your presentation, the summary you provide, your presenter biography, and the abstract (or discussion questions or workshop lesson plan) for your proposed presentation. Make sure you include all requested information when you make your proposal, and if you have concerns about how the information is used, please e-mail us.

  • If you're working with collaborators--perhaps co-writing a paper, grouping together for a panel, or team-teaching a workshop--have any collaborator e-mail addresses handy when you make your proposal. The collaborators will receive an e-mailed request for confirmation that they're part of the proposal and will also be asked to provide their own contact information, presenter biography, and so on. (This way, you don't have to share real life contact information if you don't want to, though of course we recommend that you keep in touch through e-mail.) If your collaborator(s) do not respond to this e-mail in a timely manner, your proposal will be declined, so make sure your co-presenters are available to respond within a day or two of your proposal.

  • And another note on collaborators: Be sure to nail down your co-presenters before you submit your proposal. We can change or add co-presenters before a decision is made on your proposal, but--for example--you don't want the board to review your proposed panel if you don't have any panelists!

  • Make sure that everything the vetting board sees has been read by a second set of eyes and that it's complete; nothing says "I'm not that serious" like a proposal with typos, that says "I'll fill this part in later," or that ends with "...and then maybe I could see if someone in the audience has an idea for me to talk about." The vetting board wants to see proposals that are presentation-ready!

  • Use a working e-mail address that you'll be able to access through next October, and add programming[at]sirensconference[dot]org to your safe sender list. You'll receive all proposal and presentation communications via e-mail. Do not use your LiveJournal address. It will bounce back to us!


We hope these tips help! Keep an eye out here for specific information on different types of proposals; what to put in a biography, summary, and abstract; and posts simply for exchanging ideas and finding collaborators. If you have questions, we're happy to receive them, here or via e-mail.

Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Elements/Proposal Preparation
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: E-mail (programming at sirensconference.org)