Wiscon

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Science Fiction Convention
Name: WisCon
Dates: 1977 – present
Frequency: annual
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Type: nonprofit
Focus: feminist science fiction
Organization: Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Founder: Hank Luttrell, Lesleigh Luttrell, Janice Bogstad, Phil Kaveny, and Thomas Murn
Founding Date: 1977
URL: WisCon's Official Site
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
flyer for the fourth con

WisCon is an annual convention called "the world's leading feminist science fiction convention". It is held in Madison, Wisconsin at the Concourse hotel.

Wiscon started in 1977. Guests of Honor have included many women authors of science fiction and fantasy books.

The Carl Brandon Society awards are presented at Wiscon for sf works that address issues of race.

See the Geek Feminism Wiki for information on the 2008 WisCon Troll Incident, when an attendee took photographs of other attendees and later posted in a forum to mock them.

In 2014 WisCon was criticized for mishandling the banning of a serial harasser, former TOR editor James Frenkel, from the con. See WisCon's flaky response to harassment incident sparks Internet uproar by Aja at The Daily Dot. The 2013 discussion about sexual harassment at science fiction conventions started as a result of the reporting of Frenkel harassing another attendee at WisCon.[1]. Despite widespread knowledge of the 2013 incident, Frenkel was allowed to attend WisCon in 2014 because the official paperwork got lost. WisCon subsequently issued a temporary ban and indicated that he could return sooner if he behaved.

1977

This article or section needs expansion.

1978

1979

1980

Professional Guests of Honor were Octavia Butler and Joan Vinge. Guest Editor of Honor was David Hartwell, Fan Guest of Honor was Bev DeWeese.

1987

Professional Guests of Honor were Emma Bull and Iain Banks.

It took place March 9-11.

2006

"Arcana"

Among the MANY other events of this con was the controversial nomination by Liz Henry of a fanfic called Arcana for the "James Tiptree Jr Memorial Award."

2019

There were two fandom panels that year:

Additional notes here: revolutionaryjo @ WisCon op Twitter: "Panel discussing different definitions of fandom between WisCon goers, Worldcon, transformative vs. curatorial, con-going, etc. The difficulty of categorization for these ways of engaging in fan community. #FanworkPerception #wiscon43", Archived version

2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 44th Wiscon was held online on May 22-25, 2020.[1]

Most of WisCon’s programming will be streamed to YouTube, but available only via direct link (it will not show up on the WisCon channel or via searches). The links to specific program items will be sent out by email each morning, and also posted in the Discord server. (If you do not plan to join the Discord server, it is therefore particularly important that you make sure that you are able to receive emails we send out!) Some of the WisCon special events—the Otherwise auction, the Vid Party, and the Floomp—may use other platforms. Information on joining these events will be sent out in the same emails as the links for watching streams on YouTube, and will also be posted to Discord.[2]

2021

Due to burn-out and lack of technical expertise, no virtual Wisconline was held in 2021. However, organizers announced Visioning Wiscon, a virtual planning event for future Wiscons.

We heard from lots of you, and you said you miss lobby-con, where folks usually get to relax and chat with other con-goers, and bar-con, where folks get to relax and chat with other con-goers, except more dimly lit and with a drink.

Well. We DO have the energy and expertise for that! We’re setting up a group video chat space, complete with a bar (virtual) and a pool (also virtual) and sofas (you guessed it: virtual), and we would love it if you can join us there on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend!

BUT WAIT. There’s more! We’ll have spontaneous programming, and, less spontaneously, discussions of what the future of WisCon should look like. And even less spontaneously, we will be hosting a few of WisCon’s familiar special events — including the Otherwise Auction![3]

2022

In November 2021, the convention announced that future Wiscons faces an uncertain future and put out a call for volunteers and funds to keep the convention going:

WisCon’s roots are grounded in white feminism, and WisCon continues to struggle with racism and with finding ways to center attendees of color who have been harmed. The Town Hall marks a key point in our antiracist work to bring WisCon, particularly as experienced by our attendees and volunteers of color, into better alignment with our values—even if this means that white attendees will have to sit with discomfort. Working towards a more antiracist con is just one of the major challenges that we face. Unless we, the WisCon community, also take significant action this year in terms of finances and our volunteer pool, within the next few years we will no longer be able to run WisCon.[4]

As a result of the outreach, an in person Wiscon 2022 with a limited amount of virtual programming was announced in December 2021:

We are planning for an in-person convention in 2022, within the constraints of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but also planning for aspects of the convention to be accessible online.

All WisCon programming will be accessible to members attending in-person, and some WisCon 2022 programming and events will be available online. At a minimum, the Opening Ceremonies, GOH Speeches, a virtual track of programming, some readings, and some panels on the academic track will be accessible online. Given the success of the WisCONline Discord server in 2020, we are also planning to have a convention Discord server to which all members will get access.

We don’t currently have plans to broadcast all in-person panels to online attendees, due to limitations on AV equipment and volunteer time. These offerings may expand with more volunteer resources![5]

Laster in 2022, the following virtual programming was finalized:

  • Nearly 30 all-online panels (held via Zoom), including some of the most popular panels from the panel interest survey
  • Livestreams of readings and speeches by Guest of Honor Sheree Renée Thomas
  • Livestream of the Otherwise Auction
  • Online Readings, Academic sessions, and Workshops
  • Online Parties, including a livestream of the Vid Party
  • The return of the WisCon Discord server[6]

The public schedule for all the events is archived here

Wiscon Vid Party

Origins

The current Wiscon Vid Party began in 2010 with a single vid show and it has grown to multiple shows.

"At Wiscon in 2010, we held the first ever vid party in one of these hospitality suites on the Saturday night, from 9pm to 3am. That's six hours of vid programming! It was mostly unthemed, other than "here are some amazing vids!"[...] The general vibe of the party was loud, a little bit raucous, and pretty informal. We had a mixture of sofas and armchairs, stackable seating, and standing room. People came and went at will. We put a sign on the door asking people to keep conversations to a minimum, and it worked pretty well to keep chatter down while still allowing people to relax and have a good time. It was pretty much like a really big living room."[7]

Prior to 2010 however, cofax and veejane hosted a vid show/panel. It was held in an event room on the first floor of the hotel. The organizers received last minute approval from the con and put up signs. But because it dd not show up in the preprinted program guide, some attendees did not know it took place.[8]

cofax explained in 2019:
It was only an hour or so long, and we had to scramble to get the equipment set up, and it was just run on one medium-sized tv and a couple of home-burned DVDs. But it was 2008 or 2009, I don't really remember. I do recall the cheers for a couple of the girl-power vids, like "One Girl Revolution"[8]
fairestcat wrote in 2019:
"It says something about the state of fanworks people at Wiscon that I was there in 2008 and 2009 and did not hear about this. At that point fanworks fans were underground enough at Wiscon that many of us didn't even know about each other. Most people had their legal names on their badges instead of fannish pseuds, so it was harder to spot people in the wild as it were.[8]
The pre-2010 event referred to above may have been the panel "Their Images, Our Stories: Vidding as Feminist Critique". Particpant heyiya wrote in 2009:
"This ended up being a combination intro-to-vidding and 'look! vidding is political and feminist and stuff!' panel. Most of the audience seemed to be familiar with vids but a few weren't; we didn't have time for as much discussion as we'd have liked, but what we had was great. cofax gave a great potted history of vidding and deepad did utterly fabulous rapid-fire critical readings, in particular the most comprehensive summary of the way How Much is That Geisha in the Window comments on gender, orientalism and American history in Firefly that has ever been made in 30 seconds.[9]

The ideas of a Wiscon vid show was floated by cofax7, veejane and heyiya in early 2009:

cofax:
So I know folks have tossed around the idea of suggesting a vidshow/panel for Wiscon this year: has anyone done so?

If not, should I? Also, I need a pithy title.

For over thirty years, women fans of television shows have cut together video clips to music and produced works that celebrate, comment on, critique, and satire the original works. While male fans also produce fanvids, the live-action vidding community is majority female. While that of itself doesn't make vidding a feminist activity, there has always been a certain element of conscious transgression in vidding, given both the dubious legal status of such action, and the content of the vids themselves. Additionally, there's a strong (and growing) element in the community of examining source texts (and fanvids) through a feminist and/or anti-racist lens.[10]
heyiya:
"I had been tossing an idea around in my head about a panel on/of vids that showcase feminist uses of technology, in the sense both of re-editing as repurposing with a feminist/social-justice edge (bringing out marginalized characters and relationships that mainstream media doesn't do justice to, as well as particular tropes and problematic things re: gender and sexuality and race) and of what technology means to women who vid (I thought of the science fiction relevance of To Touch the Face of God, and of Walking on the Ground, and a bunch of other ones). I'm aware that is kind of just a My Favourite Vids show though, it would probably be better to be more general and inviting.[11]

The following vids were selected and shown (links were from 2009 and may no longer work):

Vid Show Playlists/Panels

A detailed list of the vids shown at Wiscon can be found here.

2010

The 2010 Vid Party Playlist was not recorded. In 2011, organizer damned colonial wrote:

At Wiscon in 2010, we held the first ever vid party in one of these hospitality suites on the Saturday night, from 9pm to 3am. That's six hours of vid programming! It was mostly unthemed, other than "here are some amazing vids!" Check out our playlist if you want to see what we played. The general vibe of the party was loud, a little bit raucous, and pretty informal. We had a mixture of sofas and armchairs, stackable seating, and standing room. People came and went at will. We put a sign on the door asking people to keep conversations to a minimum, and it worked pretty well to keep chatter down while still allowing people to relax and have a good time. It was pretty much like a really big living room.[12]
One attendee attended and wrote:
Then I didn't want to not check out the Vid Party, so I did that. A great idea. That's my kind of party. Like the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog party of last year. I walked in at the start of a Leverage one. And that was pretty much the highlight of what I stayed for. It kept being stuff I hadn't seen. Some I didn't even recognize. We were halfway through one before I realized it was Farscape. Apparently I am uncultured! I should be watching Supernatural and Sarah Connor Chronicles and random movies and um.. stuff.[13]

In 2021, one attendee reconstructed a partial playlist from memory: wiscon_vidparty - By request: 2010 playlist, Archived version

2011

In 2011, 3 themed vid shows were proposed:

9pm-10pm "Vids with a message": futuransky will host an introductory vid-viewing session, looking at how fans use vids to tell stories and convey messages. If you're unfamiliar with fanvids, this will help you get your bearings. Don't miss the panel at 4pm Saturday to discuss these vids in greater depth!

11pm-midnight "Premieres": Come see vids created especially for Wiscon. These vids have never been shown or posted online before our show! We've encouraged fanvid creators to make us vids that touch on Wiscon's feminist SF themes, so you can expect a number of fascinating vids in this session. We'll also be showing some "nearly new" vids (released since the start of 2011) that you might not have seen yet.

midnight-1am "Singalong Vids": An hour of vids specially selected for their sing-along-ability. Bring your best singing voice! All these vids will have subtitles, so if you find it easier to watch vids with the lyrics on screen for any reason, this is also a great time to swing by and see what's on offer.

From 10pm-11pm, and from 1am til close (sometime around 2am, we think) we'll be showing a selection of vids that don't fit any of the above categories.[14]

Other vids shows included:

Intro session (Vids with a message) (9pm-10pm) - wiscon_vidparty Premieres and Nearly New playlist, Archived version

Premieres and Nearly New (11pm - midnight) - wiscon_vidparty Premieres and Nearly New playlist, Archived version

A sample vid show description from the themed show "Vids With Something To Say:

"Fan videos or vids are music videos made with re-edited footage from TV shows and films. They use the combination of images and music to get a vidder's point across. That point can be a celebration of shows and characters the vidder loves, an expression of fannish opinion, or, sometimes, an excoriating critique of sexism, racism, and heteronormativity in media. This presentation is part of a multi-part celebration of vidding by WisCon members; we'll watch, analyze, and discuss some of the vids screened at the Friday night vidparty. Let's come together and discuss these vids with important things to say about science fiction, fandom, gender, race, and sexuality.[15]

In 2011, the organizers also formalized their trigger warnings policy and offering subtitles. In order to do so, they solicited volunteers to assist in pre-viewing vids and to create detailed trigger warnings:

We consider trigger warnings to be an accessibility issue. We will work with vidders to come up with appropriate warnings for their vids, for all major trauma and epilepsy/migraine triggers, and will make this information available online and as a handout at the party..... We'd love to find volunteers to help out with a bunch of vid party related stuff, ranging from spreadsheet wrangling, to subtitling, to helping us arrange furniture before the party. You can volunteer even if you're not attending, since so much of the prep work happens online beforehand.[16]

The list of trigger warnings

We hope to warn for all major trauma/PTSD triggers, as well as the most likely epilepsy/migraine triggers. For example, the following are examples of things we would warn for:
  • sexual violence and rape
  • explicit/intense/gory violence
  • self-harm and suicide
  • visual effects which might trigger seizures or migraines

We do not intend to warn for any of the following, however:

  • sexual content or nudity
  • general violence (including most action sequences one would see on TV and in movies)
  • explicit language used in lyrics or onscreen[17]

The list was later modified to include

Psychological triggers

We warn for: Sexual assault and coercion; abusive relationships; suicide and self-harm; extreme violence or gore; torture, police brutality, and institutional violence.

We don't warn for: Nudity; sexual activity; non-heteronormative sexuality; general violence including action sequences, shooting, martial arts, etc; explicit language; other "mature" themes.

Physical triggers

We warn for: Strobing and flashing effects, very fast cutting, "shaky cam", other effects or source material deemed likely to trigger seizures or migraines.

We don't warn for: Incidental bright lights in source (eg. explosions); also please note that vids are by their nature bright and fast-moving, so we only warn for those that are particularly so.[18]

They stressed:

Our warnings are intended to help attendees manage their risk if they are subject to common psychological or physical triggers. These warnings are not intended as a "rating" or censorship measure.[18]

A handout was prepared and posted online before the show.

They also attempted to secure permission to show vids along with permission to create subtitles for the singalong vids:

We try to contact vidders and get their permission to use their vids for our party. Your job, if you are up for it, is to leave comments on vidders' DW/LJ/etc, telling them about the vid party and checking that it's OK for us to show their vid. We'll provide a "form letter" that you can cut and paste, so you don't have to come up with your own words. When they respond, you update our spreadsheet to say you've got permission.....

2. Subtitling

This year we're having a "singalong" show at which the vids will be subtitled. We're going to contact the vidders and ask them either to submit subtitle files OR grant permission for us to create the subtitles on their behalf. [19]

2012

2013

By 2013, the organizers began offering subtitles for more vids, not just the singalong vids:

We are trying to have subtitles for as many vids as we can at WisCon this year––not just for the singalong show. If you made a playlist or a premiere, we asked that you subtitle if you can... We appreciate that not everyone will be able to, though. If you like subtitling (or think you might like it) and want to do some vids for us in the next few days (um, the party is a week Friday, so that would be the deadline...), drop a comment to this post and we will let you know if there are vids that need subtitles.[20]

futuransky posted her notes from the Vid Discussion panel: WisCon 37: vid party discussion panel, Archived version

2014

In 2014, the group requested that the themed vid shows be shortened to only 3-6 vids:

We want as many people as possible to be involved in the programming for the party, and we prefer shorter blocks of programming rather than long vidshows. So, just like last year, we would like to invite you to curate a themed vid playlist (i.e. a short/mini vid show) that's 10-25 minutes in length, or 3-6ish vids long, to play at the party. Curators choose a theme and pick 3-6ish vids that fit the theme. If you're attending WisCon, you can introduce your playlist with a description of your theme (if you want!); if you aren't attending, you can write a little introduction and we will read it for you.[21]

They also planned a few vid specific panels and workshops:

Upcoming vidding workshop We are planning an online vidding workshop in early March 2014 to connect vidders with newbie vidders or potential vidders with questions about any aspect of vidding, including matching interested newer vidders with more experienced mentors(/cheerleaders). [22]

Panels/Workshops

Vid Shows

They also held a vid discussion:

There's no vid discussion panel on the proper schedule, but there will be a Vid Discussion Impromptu Panel at 10:30 am on Sunday in the impromptu programming room. What could be better than talking about the awesome vids you will see at the party?[23]

2015

The organizers included their first AMV themed vid show that year.[24] They also asked attendees to vote on what vids to include in the Singalong.[25]

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2016

A filk song was written for the Vid Party, set to the tune of "The Story of Tonight"from Hamilton.[26] They also struggled to find volunteers to keep with subtitling an ever more complex set of vid shows.[27] And they held a "How to Vid - Ask a Vidder" panel.

2017

The convention's guest of honor was Kelly Sue DeConnick, an American comic book writer and editor so the group organized a themed vid show around her works.[28] Due to its popularity a second SingAlong vid show was held. And jackshoegazer designed a poster.
2017 Vid Party poster designed by jackshoegazer

They also expanded on the type of vids they were looking for and why they were seeking them:

Please give us your vids! We need them. For breathing. Because in this dystopia I am inventing in this very moment to convey our desperate need and desire for your vids--in this dystopia here, the Capitalist Media Machine (CMM) has implanted a neurotransmitter that limits how we read and watch the media they create. The ONLY WAY to unprogram our minds and fight for the revolution is by vidding and watching the vids of other vidders, thereby linking our unique subjective experiences, expanding our consciousness, inspiring empathy, and ultimately (ultimately) saving the universe from CMM mind control™.

What kind of vids do we want?

We welcome all fanvids in all genres and from all traditions of fannish video production, so long as they have some connection to WisCon's focus on feminism and science fiction. WisCon defines feminism broadly, and we're interested in vids that engage with any aspect of gender, sexuality, race, disability, and/or class. We don’t want definitions to limit you; if you’re interested in WisCon’s themes and consider your vid to engage with these ideas, we’d love to have it at WisCon. We consider vid theme to be as relevant as source genre.[29]

2018

2018 poster designed by jackshoegazer highlighting the expanded vid programming that year

The organizers took over the role of contacting vidders for permission to show their vids and allowed curators to solicit premiere vids for their themed vid shows.[30] jackshoegazer designed a pink themed poster. And a poll was held seeking feedback on the following topics>

1) shorter tighter playlists; 2) more collaborative playlists and fewer single-veejay playlists; 3) a single sing-along; 4) a bonus “after-party” of danceable vids or vids from past programming, tbd, if there is a dramatic split between “we want a 2 hours show” and “we want 4 ½ hour show;” 5) other options you are welcome to suggest in the poll.[31]

The vid programming ran over 3 hours that year.

2019

The vid party was featured in a comic panel by: Alison Wilgus: "I think that's when I knew I was going to have to come back.", Archived version[32]

Vid Shows

2020

The 2020 Virtual vid show playlist is here: *WisCon 2020 vidshow, Archived version

2021

There were 14 themed vid shows

2022

Playlists for Wiscon 45 can be found here: wiscon_vidparty, Archived version

Further Reading

References

  1. ^ We’re Planning An Online WisCon!, Archived version
  2. ^ WisCONline Update: Platforms + Volunteers, Archived version
  3. ^ Announcing Visioning WisCon: a very low-key virtual event, Archived version
  4. ^ Let’s Save WisCon!, Archived version
  5. ^ WisCon 2022 Registration and Programming Suggestions Open!, Archived version
  6. ^ New Lower Price for Online Memberships, Archived version
  7. ^ Recent Entries, Archived version
  8. ^ a b c We Did The Thing: Musings On the AO3, Wiscon, and Winning the Fandom Culture Wars, Archived version
  9. ^ heyiya livejournal post, Archived version
  10. ^ cofax7 livejournal post, Archived version
  11. ^ heyiya livejournal post, Archived version
  12. ^ Wiscon vid party info post, Archived version
  13. ^ julieandrews livejournal post, Archived version
  14. ^ Vid Party Schedule, Archived version
  15. ^ Vids With Something to Say, Archived version
  16. ^ Wiscon vid party info post, Archived version
  17. ^ Warnings information post, Archived version
  18. ^ a b Vid Party trigger warnings, Archived version
  19. ^ Volunteers needed! Permissions and subtitling, Archived version
  20. ^ Tutorial: an alternative way to subtitle vids, for singalongs and beyond., Archived version
  21. ^ Call for curators for WisCon 38 Vid Party!, Archived version
  22. ^ Call for premieres for Wiscon 38!, Archived version
  23. ^ WISCON HAS ARRIVED! Party time approacheth!, Archived version
  24. ^ Update #1: Premieres deadline extended and AMV playlist curator needed!, Archived version
  25. ^ Sing Along! now with Dreamwidth-style democracy, Archived version
  26. ^ VID PARTY CALL er... SING FOR PREMIERES!, Archived version
  27. ^ Halp! Subtitlers needed!, Archived version
  28. ^ Kelly Sue DeConnick playlist, Archived version; LET'S HAVE A VID PARTY! sign up for everything and anything here, Archived version
  29. ^ GIMME YER VIDSSSS! AKA: How to submit your premiering vid, Archived version
  30. ^ WISCON 42 VID PARTY! -- Announcements, call for premieres, call for playlists, Archived version
  31. ^ Wiscon 43 Programming Poll, Archived version
  32. ^ Comic Transcription, Archived version; Archived Comic, Archived version