post-WisCon35 = pre-WisCon36

Tuesday in Madison the day after WisCon is always the worst, because it is the day furthest away from the next WisCon.  I actually plugged WisCon36 into my phone’s trip planner and discovered that i was 358 days away from checking into the Concourse.  Sigh.

This year the tuesday after WisCon was made all the worse because [personal profile] littlebutfierce and [personal profile] raanve had already shipped out. Even [personal profile] the_andy, my beloved, my constant travel companion, was already gone, having pushed his flight from tuesday afternoon to monday evening so he could dash home to deal with his cat (edit for update!).  I slept poorly, i got up and checked out of the hotel, i moped around State Street and took tea/brunch at Dobrá, i finally went back to the Concourse to wait for the shuttle only to find i was the only one on it — great.

Wednesday i woke up in my own apartment with my sweetie and the cats.  Happily, i had enough vacation time accumulated at work that i could take an extra day for recovery.  Got all the laundry done, emptied the luggage and put it away.  Made a promise that this time i’d start working on the upcoming WisCon in june instead of  waiting until may.  And so far so good!  I’m working with a group of friends on ideas for class panels.

In the interest of keeping the WisCon ball rolling, here are some observations from WisCon35 (2011).

general panel thoughts

#1] If you don’t really know anything about the panel subject and are more interested in learning, please sit in the audience and not on the panel.  I’ve seen this happen way, way too often.  Only once has anything good come out of this arrangement.  Usually what happens is said person winds up sitting completely silent for the next 90 minutes.  Listen, i know that some of you come to WisCon because you are trying to work on your academic or your pro-publishing career and that sitting on panels is one way to get your name known.  But this tactic — where you sit on a panel despite not knowing anything — is really just shooting yourself in the foot.  Not to mention it’s a complete disservice to the topic, to the audience, and to the overall discussion.

#2] Use the damned microphones.  (a) No, you cannot properly project your voice so as to be heard.  You may be speaking louder, but you’re also garbling your words.  Use the mic!  (b) If you don’t want to be heard, then don’t sit on the panel.  See above about doing a disservice to the conversation.  Use the mic!!  (c)  If you’re asked to use the mic, use the mic!  Do not chastise the audience that if they want to hear the joke, they should be listening.  That makes you a jerk.

class panel thoughts

#1] When asked what  books you think address class issues, do not say “all books ever written address class in some way.”  This just proves that you haven’t really thought about what “addresses” means.  Would you say that just because there’s a woman in a book that book therefore “addresses” women’s issues?  Because of Arwen, Galadriel, and Eowyn, “The Lord of the Rings” therefore addresses women’s issues!  Because of Frodo and Sam, “The Lord of the Rings” therefore addresses class issues!  No and no.

#2] I’m deeply uncomfortable when you say you “consider [yourself] working class.”  Oh, how wonderful!  I didn’t realize that we, as individuals, had such complete and utter control over our own class determination!  I hereby consider myself to be global elite super upper upper-class!  Gimme my private spaceship and mansion on the moon!!

#3] I have some things to say about the subjects WisCon seems to latch onto in discussing class — for example, the working class and unions.  But they’re pretty big thoughts and i think to do them justice i’m going to have to break them out into a separate post.  For now, let’s just say i’m kind of sick of being stalled in the relatively safe harbor of working class / union discussions.  Think bigger, WisCon!  Go deeper.

3 thoughts on “post-WisCon35 = pre-WisCon36”

  1. I think I was actually the one who said that all books ever address class (though possibly I am not the one you are referring to in this post). And I stand by it. The issue that I was trying to bring up in saying that was that “address class” in no way means “represents working-class people well” or indeed at all––I intended the comment as a backhanded way of asking the question that came up explicitly later, ie “what does “address class” mean anyway?

    In fact this is an example of exactly why we need to answer that question, because I would say that LOTR *does* address both class and gender. I wouldn’t say it addresses them WELL, but it engages with them: it represents masculinity as normative nobility to which the nonmale can occasionally aspire, but they won’t get very far, and it represents class as a consensus in which people are invariably happy with the status into which they are born. It addresses class and gender from a dominant and privileged perspective.

    We need a panel to untangle what we’re asking of ‘class’ before we can ask which books address it well, IMO. I think it might be important to recognize the ways in which class is addressed in a problematic way in order to get out of the narrative that class is something that can be ignored, if that makes sense. Analogously to acknowledging that white people have race and men have gender?

    1. Ahh, see? A simple shift in terminology and i’m more inclined to agree: “engage” with class is a much better way of phrasing the subject.

      I still don’t entirely agree: i’d say that LOTR depicts a class structure that i, as the reader, can choose to interpret and engage with. I’m not sure LOTR, as a narrative, is itself consciously engaging with class.

      I most heartily agree (as you know) that we need to really work on refining our terms so that WisCon can, err, engage ;) with class. I really want to have more discussions about what the signifiers of class are so that we can move class from being unmarked to being visible.

      1. I do agree that “depicts” and “engages with” aren’t the same. I would say that the “depiction” is pretty well exemplified by the way LOTR represents race, the utterly unexamined west/north/pale=good, east/south/dark=bad of it; I see a bit more complexity and self-awareness in the class stuff, if not an actual challenge to a status quo, but I don’t want to derail into LOTR-analysis here! :)

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