Connotations

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Convention
Name: Connotations
Dates: Late September/early October, 2003-2012
Frequency: Annual
Location: Tynemouth, England
Type: fan-run slash con/fan con
Focus: slash
Organization: Connotations
Founder: Claire, Temaris
Founding Date: January 2003
URL: connotations.org.uk Connotations LJ
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Connotations is a slash con which started in 2003 after Red Rose Convention ceased running. It was held annually from 2003 to 2012.[1]

The first con took place in a single room in a hotel in Nottingham, where 32 people crammed themselves in to talk meta, watch vids, and pimp their passion.

The con has had a zine with slash stories since the beginning, 'The Book of Smutty Days', with contributions from attendees and friends of the convention.

The convention starts early Friday afternoon, and goes through to Sunday afternoon with a single track of programming. Friday evening sees 'getting to know you' games, including slash pictionary (a con staple). There is a small vidshow on Saturday night, after the Moderately Tidy Dinner (so called because the organisers had neither the wardrobe nor the finances for a formal dinner). The con always ends with the Pimp Session, where fans get five minutes to pimp their fandom using whatever props (or lack!) they please. There is also a raffle, the proceeds of which go to the local Animal Rescue centre. The con ends with a not!disco.

Panels are nominated by attendees and voted on in the weeks preceding the convention. They take place in the round, and are discussions rather than presentations. They tend to be meta or genre based, rather than fandom specific, due to the relatively small size of the con.

2003

Connotations 2003 was held in October 2003 in Nottingham.

Con zine

The con zine, which was called The Book of Smutty Days #1, had fiction from Star Wars/B7, Sentinel, Highlander, Harry Potter, Real Ghostbusters, James Bond: Goldeneye.

Proposed Panels

  • Why Slash? Slash: gay porn, or something else? / Obsessive compulsive disorder, or just a healthy outside interest?
  • Unslashable People - Who are they and why.
  • RPS - The fors and againsts
  • Unbalanced genders? Feminisation of male characters and demonising the women
  • Why we hurt the ones we love - Or, why exactly is Lex onto his 3,475 concussion?
  • Crossovers - When worlds collide—and when they shouldn't
  • Word vs. Image - When the books and films don't mix
  • Don't Buy This for the Smut: Are Plot and Politics More Important Than Sex Scenes? (Gina)
  • Femslash (KateMonkey)
  • What makes first time stories so popular? (MsManna)
  • Original Slash—is it different to just writing stories about gay people? (Is there such a thing as a definable 'slash style'?) (MsManna)
  • Going into fandoms sight unseen—Or, just why are there so many Sentinel fans in the UK?
  • Death of the last taboo? Changes in slashdom, or Kids these days—when *I* was a young slasher we only read in unmarked vans parked in unregistered postcodes...
  • The Fandom Menace: when fandoms implode (flamewars, etc)
  • LitSlash: the pros and cons of writing in a book-based fandom
  • Still slashing after all these years - why some fandoms stand the test of time and others fall by the wayside? (Graculus)
  • Fandom pimping: so why should we read about your boys?

Convention Reports

  • "Had a *great* weekend at Connotations. Got to watch the Sentinel blooper tapes the second of which is very funny (the first is more special effects than bloopers). One man (straight!!) there but everyone else was female. Ages ranged from 19 to 51. Everyone there was just so friendly. Even stuff where we didn't quite agree or on controversial issues or whatever people were just really laid back about it. The hotel we were staying at was obviously having real trouble coping with the thirty of us but they were just trying so hard you couldn't get narked at them." [2]
  • "The intros were useful, because it gave us chance to match names and fandoms to faces. I remember being surprised at the high volume of RPS/Popslashers. It's always seemed in the past that they were very much the minority at cons. I'm not sure if it means that RPS is on the increase or that this con just attracted a higher than normal number? Anyway, there was a pleasant mix of fandoms, which is always a good thing." [3]
  • "Some really good fun, enjoyable discussion panels. There wasn't one where there weren't a lot of laughs no matter the subject, including such potentially explosive topics as 'Fandom Menace' featuring past fandom kerfuffles and the RPS panel. We proved that it is possible to have a civilised, funny and enjoyable discussion about RPS no matter what everyone's views were on it. And kudos to the NSyncers, who had to put up with an awful lot of ribbing. Because, dude! That concert footage. *g* They coped with the piss-taking with wit and good humour. Good topics of discussion, too, including lit-slash versus image slash, coming out of the slash closet, femme slash and why there isn't enough of it, Plots R Us and original slash. I ducked out at lunchtime on Sunday, so sadly missed some great-sounding panels in the afternoon." [4]
  • "The first [Saturday] panel was 'Coming Out Of The Slash Closet'. I think the general consensus was that it depended on your RL job as to how open you could be about your slash life. Some people had the kind of job that it didn't matter what you did with your spare time, it could have no real backlash, others, many of whom were in jobs involving children, could quite easily find themselves unemployed and indeed unemployable, if their hobby was made public. It is a sad reflection on our society that we must hide so much of ourselves, but we all have to earn a living. At least at this con we didn't have the 'slash crusader' who insists that we must all 'come out' and admit our hobby to everyone including the postman and the man who reads the gas meter, because it's our duty to be true to our nature. Well, sorry, but real life isn't like that, people are quite often not 'understanding' and to many our hobby isn't 'harmless'. 'Plots R Us' was the second panel, and we discussed the perennial favourites like hurt/comfort, first times etc, and why we like them so much. No real disagreements here, most people seemed to agree on why they write them, and why they work." [5]
  • "The panels were fun. No conclusions (except possibly that as a group we can tangent a conversation onto *anything*. As Grac put it, meanwhile, back at the topic!). Are fandoms standing the test of time because of the writers? Because of re-runs? Is it something of both? Has the internet speeded up the natural life cycle of a fandom? Are there more femmeslashers because there are more strong women in the media? Are there more femmeslashers because there are more out lesbians? And if you get a femmeslash idea *write*!" [6]
  • "The afternoon [Saturday] discussion was 'Original Slash'. A subject that I don't think anyone will ever agree on, or ever really be able to define. To many, slash is the pairing of two, previously (sexually) uninvolved people of the same sex from a media based source; eg: Bodie/Doyle, Jim/Blair, Angel/Wesley. Gay fiction is a story about two people of the same sex discovering that they're gay, and the resulting relationship, or the exploration of already gay/bi characters. But then we have media characters like Beecher/Keller or Stuart/Vince who are canonically gay or in an m/m relationship. So are they 'slashed', are they 'gay fic' or are they indeed 'gen' for their fandom? Then of course, there was the discussion about 'slash style' fiction. I'm sure many of us have read a pro novel and remarked that it 'reads like a slash story'. I think we found ourselves going around in circles in the end, and I don't think this discussion can ever really be resolved. It was very interesting though, and quite thought provoking. The next panel was 'Word vs Image/Litslash'. I think we covered the possible ramifications of writing and posting Litslash, and how it is often seen as more risky than visual media fic. Fandom Menace or when fandoms implode was a very civilised discussion about how flamewars and division rise up in fandoms, often splitting them, or even sometimes destroying them completely. I'm sure we've all been involved in a fandom that has erupted for no apparent reason (or often a very petty and meaningless reason) and has left everyone battered and bloodied." [7]
  • "The Fandom Menace - When fandoms Implode. Reasons why this might happen included: Fans bringing baggage from previous fandoms to new arenas. Slash-ship divide. Rampaging egos and differences in writing styles. "We were here first" and/or "We know the creator and we know what they think". Or "we are coming here from another fandom to show you how it should be done". People taking offence at how words are used or how characters and/or situations are written. "There is only one way to write this pairing", one true pairing people, "this pairing is/isn't canon", one-character junkies. People bringing unfulfillable expectations to fandom. Sock puppets and fake death announcements." [8]
  • "Sunday saw the Femslash panel open the day, and interesting it was too. Kate put forward a very impassioned argument as to why there should be more femslash. Hell, even *I* thought I might eventually write that Faith story I'd always considered:) The added funny bit of this was that just before the end, I had to slip out to check out of my room. Just outside the con room, was the reception where a group of men were checking out. One almost fell into the room as I opened the door, because he'd obviously been trying to listen to what all the hysterical laughter was about. It didn't help that as I opened the door, Kate was just mentioning the words 'lesbian porn' which perked the men outside up immensely:) Even funnier was that while I was waiting to check out, [name redacted], the (very brave) husband of [name redacted] came out of the room, and one of the men gasped 'Oh my God, they've got a bloke in there!' I'm not sure what they thought we were doing to him, and I couldn't work out if their reaction was utter sympathy or total jealousy. Either way, I think we may have given them plenty to speculate about on the way home!" [9]
  • "The RPS panel was next, moderated by manna and mandragora1, and one thing I must admit, everyone at this con was so damned reasonable:) I've seen this discussion turn *so* ugly in the past, yet everyone remained terribly civilised. It's one subject that I admit I can't be objective about. I loathe it with a passion, and nothing anyone said was ever going to change my mind, but it *was* interesting to listen to the arguments. I think we tended to have more 'popslashers' than actor slashers, and I must confess that I do now see the difference. I still don't like it, or agree with it, but I can see that RPS is probably more shades of grey than I'd given it credit for. This fact alone shows that they did a good job in their panel, because I'm probably as anti as you can get. Kate convinced me that the DomElijah phenomenon *was* as scary and worrying as I thought it was, and I still shudder at the thought of it. The popslashers left me with one question. Why slash people so utterly boring and talentless, when you can have nice, well-rounded characters to play with from media sources? The more I saw of boybands, the more baffled I become as to why anyone would care enough to use so much energy on them? Still, it's lucky we don't all have the same tastes, I guess." [10]
  • "The afternoon panels were: 'Don't buy this for the smut', moderated by pinkdormouse which was basically about the importance sex scenes in fic. Why *do* some writers feel compelled to tack on a sex scene at the end, even if it does nothing for the story? Is it a pressure in slash fiction that it *must* have a sex scene? What about the placing of sex scenes, do we as readers care if it interrupts the plot? I think the general consensus was that if it works as part of the plot, it can fit in anywhere, but it wasn't essential to have an explicit sex scene in a story where it just didn't fit. The final panel was 'Still Slashing After All These Years', moderated by graculus. It looked at why some fandoms stand the test of time, and yet some burn out so quickly, despite once having been huge. I'm not sure we actually came to a decision as to why this happens, but the conversation was very interesting, and left you wondering if your own fandoms had what it takes to stand the test of time." [11]

Additional convention reports can be found archived here[12]

2004

Connotations 4 was held October 1–3, 2004.

Con Zine

The 2004 con zine, which was called The Book of Smutty Days #2 had fiction from Hornblower, Magnificent 7, Original Slash, Stargate SG1, Buffy.

Programming

Saturday

  • Whither fandom: fandom goes mainstream, does the increasing media coverage of fanfiction and slash spoil it for the genuine enthusiasts?
  • When your politics don't agree with your series
  • -Filing off the serial numbers: is slash profic possible?
  • RPS: (Differences and similarities in canon sources between media fandom and RPS fandoms.)
  • Tight or open—what's the best kind of canon to write in? Is good continuity and a detailed background better, or do we need the holes and inconsistencies. Canon vs fanon.

Sunday:

  • Femslash
  • Power of language: Fides.
  • Is nothing sacred? The Last Taboos—are there any, and if so, what?
  • Fandom pimpage: Free for all.
  • Raffle draw, prizes
  • Battle of the fandoms – who won the pimpage

Convention Reports

Convention reports can be found archived here.[13]

2005

Connotations 2005

Con Reports

Convention reports can be found archived here [14]

2006

Connotations 2006 was the first year the convention hosted a vid show.

Programming

  • "You say 'cliche' like it's a bad thing!" - the good, the bad and the ugly of cliches in fanfic
  • Historical fandoms - Elizabethan, Age of Sail, Victorian, World Wars etc., the approach and treatment of slash in differing periods and places
  • Canon, fanon, and characterisation
  • No-one ever suspects the butterfly: Being multifannish versus monofannishness.
  • Oi, love, your knickers're showing—assumptions and revelations. What do we read of the fanfiction author beyond the mere story text? What do we assume based on grammar, ability, choices of themes and style?
  • Social taboos = fanfiction kinks.
  • Dirty little secret: The exploitation of slash and slashers by TPTB - the knowing nods to slashdom in interviews and DVD extra feature
  • The impact of livejournals - good, bad, dividing/splitting, archiving
  • Son of the Bride of the Badfic Panel
  • Sisters are doing it for themselves: Slashdom—female dominated, highly sexual ... how? Why?
  • Keeping a small fandom alive and kicking - what can one do?
  • Antipathy to female characters: is it them? Or us?
  • To beta or edit - how to/dos and don'ts

Convention Reports

Convention reports for 2006 can be found here.[15]

2007

Connotations 2007 was held October 12–14, 2007.

Panels

  • Looking for the slash? Or just finding it? Is everything slashy? Or are there some things that it just aren't slashable?
  • In or Out: slashing in private, slashing in public
  • What is the next big conflict trope? Being gay isn't a huge theme any more; SGA is doing DADT to death; SPN has incest; Buffy and Angel did the dead thing and the monsters and werewolves and vampires ... where next?
  • Subcultures (differences between different fandoms)
  • Warnings: songfic? happyfic? omg you cut his hair!fic? Evanescencefic? At what point do warnings become meaningless? And what labels *are* necessary?
  • Strikethrough, boldthrough and the great diaspora that wasn't
  • Is there a difference between gen and pre-slash [aka smarm]: please, you're so far in denial the camels are complaining)
  • Are we really girls only: the boys should play too
  • We're only gay for each other: romantic in the extreme? or internalised homophobia?
  • Metafandom: pseudo-intellectualisation of a hobby we are trying to tart up? Or sociological mind fest?
  • Angst or Romance? (Romance advocate needed; Angst advocate supplied)

Convention Reports

Convention reports for 2007 can be found listed here[16]

2008

Connotations 2008

Panels

  • The fannish tipping point: what takes something from being 'that thing I watch/read' through to obsession (and maybe back again)?
  • Bastard alien assbaby lovechild of the badfic panel and a trivia contest!
  • Slash in the media: how the media portrays slash and slashers, both from the FPS and the RPS POV. Do they really not understand where it comes from? Or is it deliberate misunderstanding to make it sound more salacious?
  • What does a character has about them that makes them slashable. Are there any characters that you wouldn't dream of slashing or characters that just seem to be there just to be slashed
  • Cliches in slash. Good, bad and plain old ugly. The most over used phrases and descriptions in slash writing. Can they ever be a good thing?
  • Oh John Ringo no! John Ringo, venom!cock and the Twilight phenomenon. Train wreck fiction and our endless fascination with it
  • The seeping of internet culture into everyday life—Rick-rolling and lolcats etc. Is it a good thing? Does it make it easier to come out as a fan/internet junkie when these things go mainstream?
  • Somebody pass the cement! Plot holes / historical inaccuracies / physical impossibilities etc in canon - do you feel compelled to fix, fix, fix, or is it a case of, if TPTB don't care, why should I?
  • The Kids are Alright: Demographics, Change and Cultural Norms in Fandom. Have practices and understandings changed (or not) with regard to slash fandoms, particularly with the changing face of fandom and the media, and where are we going?
  • The secret life of a slasher. Do fanfic writers still do it in secret? Or is fandom finally coming out the closet?
  • RPS / RPF: what *is* that about?
  • The Kink Panel - What's Hot and What's Not? What turns us on, what doesn't and what's popular in our particular fandoms at the moment.

2009

Connotations 2009 was held September 25–27, 2009.

Panels

  • Reboots: New fans and old fandoms: what's it like to be a newbie in an old fandom, or an old fan surrounded by newbies? Is new canon vs. old canon sacrilege or an opportunity? (Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Holmes, I'm looking at you.)
  • Merlin: cultural appropriation or the just another stage in folk history?
  • Minority Pairings: Why Can't They See What I See? (multifandom)
  • Connotations Predicts - reviewing upcoming media and predicting which will have a fandom, including pairings.
  • Revisiting Fandoms: Sex with the Ex
  • Fan interaction, you're doing it wrong! Why TPTB/writers sometimes need to stay away from the fans—And those that get it right.
  • Slash fandom as a community: Why does it keep us here?
  • Femmeslash: not enough of it, looking for more of it, want to explore a bit
  • Privilege and Discrimination in Fandom: how to spot it, how to avoid it, how to discuss it without derailing the discussion
  • SurveyFail: a perfect storm of mansplaining, academic privilege and chauvinism? Or just a culture clash? And either way, how can we stop others appropriating it?
  • AU: the good, the bad and the OMGWTFBBQ?
  • Bad sex & bad fic: let's all point and laugh (and quickly hide the bad fic we wrote ourselves and hope nobody ever finds it!)
  • Fanfic Fashion: When did everything shift to present tense, and are there trends in styles of fanfic

2010

Connotations 2010 was held October 5–7, 2010.

Panels

  • The Boyfriend of the Son of the Third Cousin Twice Removed of the Bad!Fic Panel
  • Connotations Predicts: What will be the Next Big Thing?
  • Fannish Misconceptions, or What Do People Not in Your Fandom Think It's About?, or What Do You Mean Methos Isn't the Main Character?
  • The nature of slash: what changes have there been in the last ten years?
  • Writing other times/cultures/countries: how much research is enough?
  • Anti-heroes and why we love them? (morally ambiguous, not quite villains (but we love villains too))
  • The Rise of the M/M/F OT3: slashers reading polyfic
  • Female Characters: What makes some loved and some the spawn of Satan?
  • Kink Memes: A Case of Your Mileage May Vary or Jesus Fuck, Pass The Brain Bleach...
  • Holmes and Watson: Old fandom, new fandom
  • Alternative sources of slash: Because it's just not on tv / film
  • Fandom: the good, bad and ugly sides to it
  • Little Black Dress characters *who are they, why them and does every fandom have to have one?

Vid Show

2011

Connotations 2011 was held October 7–9, 2011.

Panels

A list of proposed panels can be found here.[17]

2012

Connotations 2012 was planned for October 5–7, 2012, in Durham, UK.

Vid Show

References

  1. Temaris. Announcement post in connotations livejournal community. Posted 26 September 2012.
  2. Fides - Weekend.
  3. A Con report...sort of, accessed March 8, 2012.
  4. Connotations, Archived version.
  5. A Con report...sort of.
  6. Conotations was a blast, Archived version.
  7. A Con report...sort of.
  8. Connotations-Saturday, WebCite.
  9. A Con report...sort of.
  10. A Con report...sort of.
  11. A Con report...sort of.
  12. 2003 Con reports WebCite.
  13. 2004 Con reports WebCite.
  14. 2005 Con Reports WebCite
  15. 2006 Con reports WebCite.
  16. 2007 Con reports WebCite.
  17. 2011 Proposed panel poll WebCite.