All posts by Wendy Bolm

WisCon 42 Is Trying Something New!

Because WisCon has always challenged us to take our own activism and geekdom to new levels via the evolving philosophies of Feminism, the Programming Department decided to try something new for WisCon 42. For this upcoming WisCon, the Programming Department came up with a theme to be tied into our activist discussions and activities.

Theme: What Does Justice Demand?

Although the words “social justice” are bandied about within the WisCon community, geek/nerd spaces, as well as the mainstream, and many talk about and endeavour to work within this framework, what does it actually mean. How is social justice lived/embodied without becoming a buzzword? And how does this shape feminism and genre work (scifi, fantasy, horror, and others) both past and present?

We’re excited to have other departments adding their own unique flavors to this year’s theme.

I’m Curious. How Exactly Will The Other Departments Be Participating In The Theme?

Glad you asked! Some of the departments provided us with some information as to how they plan to participate.

From the Art Show Department:
We often have artists in the Art Show who deal with issues of social justice directly or indirectly in their work, but this year we’ll be specifically inviting applicants to make art for the show addressing the question of what justice demands (although it won’t be required). Applications for the WisCon 42 show will open in January 2018, and we welcome new artists to apply (see for details).

From the Gaming Department:
The gaming track will also work to engage the theme What Does Justice Demand. If you have ideas for board games, tabletop roleplaying games, larps, or even video games that explore ideas of justice that you’d like to run, please keep an eye out for the call for games in early January. If you’d like to propose a game but are out of ideas, or want help finding ways to address the theme, please reach out to and we’d love to work with you to find something you’d be excited about running.

Please note that participation in this theme is not mandatory. We would simply like to invite you to reflect on this theme. If you so choose, we welcome your panel suggestions that you believe would tie into it.

This Sounds Really Cool! Can I Start Submitting Panel Ideas Now?

That you can! Program ideas submissions are open! The Wiscon 42 programing department looks forward to receiving all of the awesome ideas YOU have to offer!

We invite you to submit programming ideas for WisCon 42 through January 19, 2018. To submit an idea, please click on “Submit your ideas for programming!” link on right-hand side of main page or go straight to the program idea submission form. We can’t wait to see your suggestions!

Please note starting this year, there will be a hard stop for accepting program idea submissions. Unfortunately, the WisCon 42 program committee will no longer accept any program ideas after the January 19, 2018. Make sure to submit your ideas before the deadline!

What If I Want To Submit An Academic Paper?

The call for Wiscon Academic Papers is open until February 1, 2018. Submit your proposal using the online form. You will be asked for a 100-word abstract, which will be printed in the convention’s program, and for a more detailed proposal of up to 500 words. If you are proposing something other than a traditional paper, please make sure you describe the format of your proposed program item. A projector and screen will be available; if you have further technological needs, please let us know in your proposal.

If you have any questions, contact the Academic Programming chairs at

Support WMAF this Giving Tuesday!

If you’ve heard of Giving Tuesday, odds are you’re a generous person and you’ve got lots of organizations asking for donations from you already. Thank you for that! Generosity toward others in our communities is increasingly necessary to us all.

If you haven’t heard of Giving Tuesday, it was conceived a few years ago as a balance to the Black Friday phenomenon — a day centered around supporting nonprofits by making donations. We suspect you’re a generous person as well, and we salute your remarkable ability to stay off donation mailing lists!

We know that most of the people in our community are spread thin, and that when our friends and neighbors need help with day-to-day expenses, contributing to WisCon’s Member Assistance Fund (WMAF) can feel like a low priority.

We believe that WisCon is a vital space to regroup, to strategize, to take a break, to do work that advances justice, and to envision the future. Because of that, we feel that it’s more important than ever to support folks who want to attend but face financial challenges to their participation. The WMAF makes awards of between $50 and $500 to folks who apply for assistance, but we can’t do that without your donation. Your $5 (or more!) can help us to have a vibrant, inclusive WisCon this May.

Please give at!



One of the things that sets WisCon apart, besides being the first feminist science fiction convention, is that we place many types of fannish interactions side-by-side in our programming. We have panels dedicated to exploring a single book or film as well as panels that look at, say, race across all of science fiction. We have author readings, discussions of fanfic or fanvids, and conversations about games and gaming.

We also have an entire track dedicated to scholarly investigations of feminism and science fiction — open to scholars of all descriptions.

The proposal period for WisCon’s academic track programming is now open!

WisCon’s track of academic programming, framed by the convention’s intersectional feminist principles, encourages submissions from scholars in all fields, including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas, and from amateur and independent scholars as well as graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. One of the benefits of this track is that it strengthens the links between the wider feminist science fiction community, students and other scholars working on feminist science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and related fields.

Given WisCon 42’s theme: “What Does Justice Demand?” We invite papers and panels that explore the meanings, histories, and cultures of “social justice.” How is social justice lived/embodied without becoming a buzzword? And how does this shape feminisms’ relationship to speculative genres (scifi, fantasy, horror, and beyond) both past and present? This theme is an opportunity both for work that deals specifically with social and political questions of justice as they relate to feminist science fiction and for work on the histories and cultures of social-justice-oriented fan communities.

Further, we invite proposals from anyone with a scholarly interest in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability with science fiction — broadly defined — in literature, media, and culture. We encourage contributions that emphasize WisCon’s focus on how science fiction has played an important role in the exploration and creation of socially just futures: futures where people of all colors and backgrounds flourish, where women’s rights and women’s contributions are valued, where gender is not limited to one of two options, where no one is erased out of convenience, hidden discrimination, or outright bigotry. We especially welcome scholarship on the work of 2018’s Guests of Honor Tananarive Due and Saladin Ahmed.

An incomplete list of possible subjects:

  • What Does Justice Demand? How is social justice lived/embodied? How does social justice shape feminism and genre work (scifi, fantasy, horror, and others) both past and present?
  • Gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability in individual works of science fiction and fantasy, especially in the works of our Guests of Honor, Tananarive Due and Saladin Ahmed
  • Feminist, queer, critical race, and critical disability analysis of science fiction and fantasy in media (film, television, music, video games, online culture)
  • Speculative aspects of feminist and social justice movements
  • Race, colonialism, and speculative fiction; Afrofuturism and related cultural movements
  • Feminist pedagogy and speculative fiction in the classroom

An incomplete list of possible formats:

  • 15-minute paper presentations, with or without visual accompaniment
  • Groups of presentations submitted together as panels
  • Presentation of scholarly creative works, including digital scholarship
  • Discussion-based panels and roundtables on scholarly research, teaching, or service
  • Screenings and discussions of short films or videos

The deadline for submitting an abstract for WisCon 42 is midnight Central Time on February 14, 2018.

Please submit your proposal using this form ( site profile is required). You will be asked for a 100-word abstract, which will be printed in the convention’s program, and for a more detailed proposal of up to 500 words. If you are proposing something other than a traditional paper, please make sure you describe the format of your proposed program item. A projector and screen will be available; if you have further technological needs, please let us know in your proposal.

If you have questions, please email:

Donate to the Member Assistance Fund – Put WisCon Within Reach!

Last May, during WisCon 41, political turmoil was dominating national and world attention. We know it had a dramatic impact on the conversations we had during the convention — not only as a topic, but also in shaping the membership. We know that as a convention in the midwest, in Wisconsin, in the United States, our environment became less welcoming — and in many ways more hostile — than ever before. And we know that hasn’t changed.

We feel that it’s important to counter that hostility while continuing our work right here in Madison. WisCon is not simply a convention: every Memorial Day weekend we create a space to organize, to push back, to have restorative conversations, to make connections, and to build our dream of a better future.

As an intersectional feminist convention, we know we can’t do that without striving for equity and taking concrete steps toward including as diverse a group of participants as possible in those spaces, conversations, connections, and dreams. Our most concrete step toward inclusion and equity is WisCon’s Member Assistance Fund (WMAF).

The WMAF has a single purpose: to help people travel to and enjoy WisCon. The WMAF awards attendees amounts up to $500, at whatever level they tell us they need to make their attendance possible. It’s vital that we ease the way for as many people as possible to join us, bringing their opinions, their ideas, and their knowledge. WisCon builds and tests ideas, exploring gender, class, race, and ability in science fiction and fantasy, and through that process, we build our culture and our world in a way that isn’t limited to the con.

We need your donations to make this happen. Any amount you donate to WMAF makes a huge difference — our goal is to raise $8,000 by December 31, enough to help at least sixteen people, and probably many more. Donations to WisCon are tax-deductible in the US.

Please give now to help us put WisCon within reach.

Get Into the Guts of Convention Planning on Our Hotel Team

Have you ever thought about how crucial WisCon’s Hotel team is to the convention? Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you don’t know what the Hotel Department is or what they do. Would you like to learn? It just so happens we’re looking for a few understudies!

You might have already guessed that they interact with our hotel—it’s right there in the name. The Hotel team keeps in touch with the Madison Concourse Hotel, our venue, throughout the year (and not just because they get to be friends during the convention, though that’s true, too).

Details? The members of our Hotel team get the updates on remodeling and other changes happening at the Concourse, keep tabs on reservations in WisCon’s room block, and double-check that our programming will fit into the available space. They confirm which rooms will hold the Safer Spaces, the Quiet Space, the parties, papers, panels, and workshops, and sort out which rooms need what audio/visual equipment when. They work closely with the Concourse to put together the diagrams of how each program room will be set up, when those setups need to change, and whether or not we need to rent more chairs, tables, or microphones. They tell the hotel when to expect our deliveries, meet our moving truck, and make sure that everyone involved—volunteers, convention members, contractors, and hotel staff—is able to have a great time throughout Memorial Day weekend.

How crucial is the Hotel team? Without them we wouldn’t have rooms to sleep in during the convention. Or anywhere to have panels. And no one would be able to hear the panelists, since they wouldn’t have microphones. Or chairs. Or tables. And we couldn’t all chill in the Con Suite because all of our kitchen equipment would still be in storage.

Want to be part of making all of these practical details happen? We’re currently looking for at least two additional Hotel team members, no prior experience needed. We will teach you all of the mysteries of who gets a “lanyard of power,” what our contracts say, how to read BEOs, and, incidentally, what BEO stands for.

Members of the Hotel team do not need to be local to Madison, since we work via email, chatrooms, shared documents, and conference calls. Folks on the team are automatically eligible to opt for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of your registration fee, meaning that if you register for WisCon as an adult, you can opt to receive $22 of your $55 membership back after the con ends.
To apply to join the Hotel team, please email