We’re pleased to announce that Jess Adams and Chris Wrdnrd have a co-written piece in WisCon Chronicles: Volume 6 about the origins of Friends of Dennis. The book is available directly from Aqueduct Press ($15, paperback), or from your usual bookseller.
In addition to the panels mentioned last month, there are several other class-related panels you may be interested in if you’re attending WisCon 36 this year in Madison, Wisconsin:
The Feeding and Proper Care of Your Underclass: How a Society Maintains Poverty
We all say that we want to abolish poverty. But we all know that our society works very hard to maintain its poverty class. Let’s talk about some of the practices that are inherent to Western society that keep the poverty class poor and hopeless. And since this is WisCon, let’s talk about the books/stories that examine this issue.
M: Beth Plutchak. L J Geoffrion, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Karon Crow Rilling
Class Culture and Values in SF&F
Class isn’t just how much money you have or what work you do; it also involves cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes that are expressed in how you talk, what you do in your free time, and all sorts of less tangible elements. (See Barbara Jensen’s book Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America, due out in mid-May.) The SF&F writing and fannish communities are mainly middle-class folks, which makes the class values of SF&F works mostly middle class, too. What works and creators explore classes outside the mainstream, white, European, middle-class value systems? What class markers tend to show up most, or least, often? Do these works show the non-middle classes positively? negatively? realistically?
M: Debbie Notkin. Eleanor A. Arnason, Alyc Helms, Danielle Henderson, Rose Lemberg
How to Make WisCon Affordable
WisCon is an empowering event, and more people should get to participate. But journeying to Madison, finding a place to stay, and affording membership are all difficult, much less being able to buy a dessert ticket. How have we been able to make it affordable for ourselves? In what ways could WisCon become more accessible for poor people?
M: Benjamin Billman. L J Geoffrion, Jesse the K, Rachel Kronick, Laurenn McCubbin
Gender and Class in Gaming
This panel uses Dragon Age II, Mass Effect and classic tabletop games as a starting point to discuss class and gender issues that have been raised by players. We’ll discuss the ways in which class and gender are used in past and current games. How are gender and class issues used in the plot of the game? Does this detract or add to the gaming experience? Is it possible to be a feminist gamer?
M: Tanya D.. Lisa C. Freitag, Alyc Helms, Jessamyn, Heather Porter
Do let us know if any online commentary — live-blogging, panel write-ups — about these panels. See you at WisCon!
Some of Dennis’s friends have been involved in planning panels on class for WisCon 36:
I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and all I got was this chip on my shoulder”: Uplift, Downsizing, and Other Changes of Class
In the US, everyone is expected to want to move up in class—but if we do, we are likely to find that we can’t leave our former experiences behind and we might not want to. Similarly, many formerly well-off people have slipped down the class ladder in the economic downturn, but may not realize the kinds of privilege they maintain or the kinds of survival knowledge they lack. In this panel, we’ll talk about the challenges we’ve experienced in changing class in any direction, and work to build narratives that fit our lives better than the standard ones.
M: Alexis Lothian, Julie Hayes, Kiini Salaam, Fred Schepartz, Vanessa Vega
You Got Race On My Class! You Got Class On My Race!!
Race and class are two identities that exist in tandem, one never really trumping the other. What are the ways they intersect, diverge, conflict? What happens when our internal race/class state differs from an external race/class assignment—and what factors go into forming internal/external states in the first place? This panel will look at the realities of how we exist within and negotiate race and class without privileging either concept.
Saladin Ahmed, Eileen Gunn, Nisi Shawl, Chris Wrdnrd
What do we mean when we talk about class? Is it about how much money we have? How much education? How we grew up? Our position with respect to a global capitalist world system? There have been a lot of WisCon panels in the past focused on speculative fiction that “does class well”—but how can we know whether something’s being done well if we don’t even know what it is? This panel brings together WisCongoers with expertise and experience in talking about class to hammer out (if not actually decide upon) some definitions.
M: Jess Adams, BC Holmes, Alexis Lothian, Chris Wrdnrd
As always, we’ll collect links to any live-blogging and write-ups and post them on the website. Please let us know of any relevant commentary!
Jess Adams and Chris Wrdnrd have written a piece about Friends Of Dennis to appear in WisCon Chronicles Vol. 6: Futures of Feminism and Fandom (edited by Alexis Lothian), forthcoming from Aqueduct Press in June 2012.
“Race, Class, and Urban Planning”
How does centralized planning divide our cities along lines of race and class? Subsidized housing, elevated freeways, new condos, zoning regulations: who decides where these are placed, and for what purposes? From Tyrion Lannister scouring King’s Landing during war to Ariane Emory programming the populations of Cyteen and Gehenna, these issues affect our fictional worlds too. Let’s talk about how power and urban planning interact.
M: Steven Schwartz, Ian K. Hagemann, Katharine Kerr, Vylar Kaftan
- phi: liveblogging
“Segregation in SFnal Cities”
In late 2010, Eric Fisher used Census data to map out the top 40 cities in the United States by race. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/sets/72157624812674967/detail/) The one commonality of every map was that segregation existed, often in stark and predictable patterns — one race dominating this side of a busy avenue, a different race dominating that side. Or poor neighborhoods being dominated exclusively by people of color, while wealthy ‘hoods are white. How often do we see this pattern realistically depicted in SFnal cities? Do most cities in speculative fiction simply ignore race and class, or do they more often depict an idealistic — if unrealistic — even mix? Do we *want* to see realistic segregation in our fantastic cites, or is it too troubling to be reminded of our world’s problems when we’d rather just “escape”?
M: Mary Anne Mohanraj, Eric Fischer, Jaym Gates, Marie Brennan
“Class in SF: Who Gets It Right?”
[track: Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction | room: Capitol A | Saturday 4-5:15pm]
In fiction, lower and working class individuals and groups are often depicted in broadly drawn stereotypes. Where are the stories that depict the working class and the poor accurately and with dignity? Where are the stories that challenge class and classism, or present workable solutions to the problems of class difference? Let’s spend our time not thinking about how often class goes wrong in fiction, but focusing on where it’s gone right. Afterward, we’ll post the list online to spread the wealth.
M: Liz Henry. Eleanor A. Arnason, Rachael Lininger, Geoff Ryman, Jef a. Smith
“Class Issues in Science Fiction and Fantasy”
[track: Power, Privilege, and Oppression | room: Wisconsin | Saturday 10-11:15am]
It’s not been easy for the SF community to come to terms with class. In a society where the working poor and the unemployed are growing in number, and the middle class is being destroyed, it’s vital that we discuss class. Let’s build on our discussions of class at WisCon 34, which included a powerful Class Basics panel, to discuss class and class warfare in SF as well as the real world.
M: Eleanor A. Arnason. Jess Adams, Alexis Lothian, Beth Plutchak, Fred Schepartz
“Does the Middle Class Exist, or Is It a Figment of Our Imagination?”
[track: Power, Privilege, & Oppression | room: Caucus | Sunday 10-11:15pm]
Created when Capitalism supplanted feudalism, the middle class is a relatively new development, and in some ways is an artificial construct. But what does it really mean to be middle class? Perhaps it’s a state of being or a certain level of prosperity, but given the fluidity of its nature, does the middle class even exist, or is it really a glorified strata of the working class? Can SF/F imagine a world that has a real and strong middle class?
M: Fred Schepartz. Chris Hill, Beth A. Plutchak, Talks-with-wind
“Social Class in SF/F”
[track: Reading, Viewing, & Critiquing SF | room: Capitol A | Sunday 4-5:15pm]
How are social classes depicted in SF/F? Can we do better? What are the problems?
M: Betsy Lundsten. Laurel Amberdine, Cynthia Gonsalves, Theodora Goss, Jef a. Smith