It’s not vast, but these should both be great! First one’s greatness, of course, being solely on my shoulders. The challenge, as always, is for me to winnow things down into a 25-30 minute talk. Something written will result from this; if anyone who can’t make the con wants a copy of the handouts and write-up for the talk just let me know.
The Dhalgren panel is strong. I will be hard-pressed to keep with everyone else.
Friday July 10
12:00 PM ENL The Contours and Limits of Reading Protocols. John Stevens. In discussions of reading fantastic literature, some observers use the idea of “reading protocols” to describe the particular way that readers engage and process fictional texts. Prominent critics of fantastika (most often SF) such as Samuel R. Delany, James Gunn, and Jo Walton characterize how the literature is read as the embrace of a discernable schema that permits the reader to properly understand fantastic texts. But the idea of a protocol can be a limiting optic for examining how fantastic literature is read. This talk will summarize the prominent uses of reading protocols in fantastic literary criticism; analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the idea; examine how the idea constrains our understanding of the act of reading; and discuss why we need to think beyond this conception to better comprehend how we engage fantastic texts.
4:00 PM G Dhalgren at 40. Jim Freund, Max Gladstone, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Shira Lipkin, John Stevens. Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren was first published in 1975. It is now widely considered a classic, yet there is also the perception that it is a “difficult” book. How much has it influenced other authors and works? Does its dream-city serve as a predecessor for more recent fantastical places such as Ambergris or New Crobuzon? How have its experiments with the form of the narrative inspired more recent works? And how might a reader approach it for the first time from the vantage point of 2015?