Academic Track

This year’s academic-track panels, presentations, and round-table programming is hosted by the Campbell Conference (normally held each June at KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction). The theme, “Tomorrow is Now,” based on the 1939 World’s Fair, both explores what tomorrow might be like as well as celebrates how far we have come.

Depending on how many suitable proposals we receive, we will either offer a single academic track or two concurrent tracks of 60-minute sessions offered Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon. Sessions may consist of short individual presentations (three 15-minute or two 20-minute presentations grouped together by topic), panel presentations of 3 or more presenters, round-table discussions led by facilitators, poster and multimedia presentations, workshops led by facilitators, idea sessions, and special interest groups. Keynote presentations will be organized by the Campbell Conference Committee.

Possible formats for your proposed presentation:

  • Individual Presentation
    • Individual presentation or conference paper of 15-20 minutes. The academic track committee will place you on the program with others presenting on similar interests.
    • Individual presentation or conference paper of 50 minutes, if you feel your topic can draw a broader audience.
  • Poster or Slide Presentation
    • A format typical of scientific and tech fairs consisting of either large posters or a slideshow.
    • Does it make sense to present your research in a visual format rather than a spoken presentation?
    • Successful proposals of this type typically show a visual presentation, then informally discuss the research with attendees.
  • Panel Presentation
    • We encourage you to create a panel among peers to submit as a group on a single theme, question, or topic.
    • Two 20-minute presentations.
    • Three 15-minute presentations.
  • Roundtable Discussion
    • A more flexible format. Plan for 50 minutes.
    • We encourage proposals for roundtable discussions. Audiences–particularly SF audiences–love active participation.
    • Typically opens with a few minutes of introductory comments by your chosen moderator.
    • Moderator poses questions for the presenters to formally discuss.
    • Typically concludes with questions from and discussion among attendees.
    • Note: This CFP is for Academic Track only. Submit general fan-related panel proposals via the MidAmeriCon II Program Idea Form.
  • Workshop Session
    • 50-minute interactive sessions centering on participant involvement.
    • Consider including physical objects to interact with, games, and so forth, to engage the audience.
    • Some kinds of workshops require their organizers to work with prior submissions from the audience; in this case, prepare to connect in advance with at least one or two whom you know will attend, to ensure you have material to workshop or use in demonstrations.
  • Idea Session
    • 15-to-50 minute presentations designed to stimulate ideas in audience members or otherwise develop collaborative efforts.
    • Visual and other sensory stimulation is important.
    • Consider including a rich diversity of slides, video, music, and other multimedia.
  • Special Interest Group
    • 15-to-50 minute informal conversations with colleagues and peers.
    • Include a brief description and overview of how you will involve, attract, and engage participants.

We encourage presentations to be given in an audience-engaging, friendly manner.
Non-traditional formats welcome! Just give us a good description of what you have in mind.

This is Worldcon, so think of ways to attract a wider audience than you might see at a traditional academic conference. Consider how you can provide an engaging experience rather than simply read a paper to people sitting quietly in their chairs.

Suggested Topics
Though we especially encourage papers or presentations on MidAmeriCon II’s theme or its Guests of Honor we also welcome any other science-fiction proposal topics. Some ideas:

  • Consider the theme: “Tomorrow is Now” (or “The World of Tomorrow”).
    • What is the predictive or anticipatory value of SF?
    • How does SF focus on today’s problems?
  • One of this year’s MidAmeriCon II Guests of Honor and their work.
  • One of the other attending authors (full list of currently registered members here) and their work.
  • Current or previous Campbell Conference special guests and their work.
  • In 1939, the first Worldcon was held in New York City, just down the road from the World’s Fair, which is why the first Worldcon was held in New York City that year, and why it was called Worldcon.
  • A First-Fandom or Futurians-related proposal.
  • Some aspects of the 1939 World’s Fair:
    • It was very optimistic about the future. This was the end of the Depression, the US wasn’t yet involved in WWII, and skyscrapers were beginning to rise like metaphors from the hearts of our cities.
    • TV debuted that year.
    • GM built Futurama, the city of tomorrow.
    • Westinghouse displayed a robot that walked (and smoked cigarettes!).
  • Many consider 1939 to be the start of science fiction’s Golden Age, seeing Heinlein, Asimov, and Stugeon’s first publications. This makes John W. Campbell particularly relevant, as he published all the Big Names of the Golden Age that year.
  • The first MidAmeriCon in 1976 took place when the field was really starting to break out. This is still true: the future is cracking open, women are becoming more respected by SF in general, SF is becoming more respected by academia, and so on.
  • The 1941 Retro Hugo will be given this year at Worldcon.
  • Scientific Topics:
    • We welcome science scholars presenting research relevant to an SF audience.
    • Scholarly scientific topics presented in a speculative frame.
    • Literary topics investigated through a scientific lens.
    • Demonstrations of futuristic science or technology.
  • …or other ongoing research relevant to an SF audience.

Audience
The Worldcon audience is very large and diverse. Often, fans who have never attended an academic conference in their lives will drop in to a presentation or panel that catches their fancy. What can you do to attract them to your presentation?

How to Submit

Send your proposal via email to: midamericon.academic@gmail.com

What to Submit
Please use a clear subject line using this format:

  • MidAmeriCon II Proposal: [title]
    • Example: MidAmeriCon II Proposal: “The Alien Canterbury Voyage of James Gunn’s Transcendental”
    • Example: MidAmeriCon II Proposal: “The Science Beneath The Europa Report’s Alien Ocean”
  • Make your title engaging, intriguing, interesting, appealing…you get the idea. Before anyone reads your abstract, your title needs to draw them in.

In the body of your email, include:

  • a little information about yourself, including:
    • Your name (and preferred honorifics, if desired).
    • Any professional affiliations (for example, SFRA, SFWA, ICFA, university or research institution, edition position, or so forth).
    • Your relationship to SF (student, professor, indepedent scholar, author, fan, or so forth).
    • If you’re already a member of MidAmeriCon II
  • The format you’re proposing. Examples:
    • 20-minute academic literary presentation.
    • 50-minute scientific slide presentation.
    • 50-minute panel discussion
    • …and so forth.
  • The abstract of your proposed presentation, session, panel, or round-table. Maximum words: 300.
    • Be specific and clear about the focus and purpose of your proposal. Please don’t include supplemental material.
    • If you’re proposing a group event:
      • Let us know who else has agreed to participate, or you you (reasonably) expect to participate.
      • We cannot set up group panels for you, though we might be able to assist if you’re looking for suggestions for that last spot in your group.
  • If you wish to apply for an academic scholarship, please indicate this and follow the instructions below.

Deadline: February 5, 2016
We will make final decisions on presentations soon after the deadline. Until then, we’ll use a rolling acceptance process beginning with the first submissions, so don’t delay!

Important
All presenters must register for MidAmericon II within 30 days of accepting our invitation in order to appear in the convention program. (Scholarship recipients work with us to become officially registered.)

Academic Scholarship
Because we’re honored and excited to be a part of this year’s Worldcon, and we want to make the event accessible to scholars with less financial privilege, the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is offering two need-based scholarships for academic-track participants whose proposals have been accepted and who otherwise might not be able to attend.

To apply:

  • Indicate your interest in your CFP submission email.
  • Give us a short explanation of how your ability to participate on the MidAmeriCon II academic track depends on being able to afford membership to the convention.
    • Are you a student or faculty who cannot get travel funds to cover the event? Are you an independent scholar who doesn’t have the funds to attend Worldcon but would really love to do so? Let us know how our help will make it possible for you to attend when you might not othersie be able to do so.

Our decision is based on:

  • Those who requested to be considered for a scholarship in their CFP submission.
  • Whose proposals we have accepted.
  • Who most need the assistance.

We will announce who will receive these two free memberships (or have their memberships reimbursed if already purchased, up to $150) on or before March 5, 2016. If you can afford to purchase your membership, we urge you to register for the event ASAP, even if you are applying for a scholarship. Costs rise as we approach the convention!

We will also give at least two free memberships to volunteer staff helping run the academic track. Stay tuned for details.

Questions?
Drop us a line: midamericon.academic@gmail.com