Bacon-Smith on Conventions

I have been reading Bacon-Smith’s book Science Fiction Culture and am putting notes up on the blog. I read the book in print and underlined and wrote notes in the margins. These blog posts represent not all my notes but a collection of ideas in the notes. This particular set of notes is on the conventions themselves.

This particular set of notes is from the second and third chapters of the book.

steampunk_icon_for_Safari_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d4zhax0Bacon-Smith, Camille. Science Fiction Culture. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2000. Print.

“Secret Masters of Fandom” (11-29)

“fans organized localized spaces… and purely conceptual space” (11)

fans wrote in fanzines which were read by other fans writing in other fanzines and they commented in their own and those fanzines (11)

The Enchanted Duplicator is an allegory of the fan’s progress through discovery of fan culture and entrance into the core of fans…” (12)

“fanzines created a conceptual landscape” (12)

“fans were traveling from one city to another to gather and gossip and chat … The science fiction convention was born…” (12)

“roots of a community whose geography exists primarily in the minds of its members” (12)

“Fan culture reflects regional distinctions” (12).
in northeast “sometimes seems little difference between the business and professional worlds the club members navigate during the day and their science fiction fan community” (13)
fan clubs “provide a base of continuity that transcends the memory of the individual and passes the traditions from generation to generation” (14)
West Coast fandom and conventions are not organized around clubs. (15)

“a science fiction convention requires that a group of volunteers enter into a public commercial sphere” (16)

“science fiction community brings to the hospitality industry a set of cultural norms very different from those of an academic conference or traditional trade show” (17).
–“Ideas of personal space are different…”
–“an ethic of personal hospitality”
–“fan culture’s concept of time” (17)

Boskone specifically (and cons in general)
“new participants were young and attracted to … ancillary activities: video, gaming, costuming” (18)
low staff required and drew people into rooms (18)

“difficult for new volunteers to establish themselves” (18)
“new fans … had no understanding of the etiquette of conventions” (18)

“very large conventions run twenty-four hours a day” (18)
“celebratory hysteria caused by overcrowding, lack of regularly scheduled food or sleep, and an overdose of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol” (19)

The convention was told it could not come back.

“club discontinued its usual publicity” (19)
“Costuming was discouraged” (19)
“Laurie Mann, 1988 convention cochair explained… ‘tried very hard to recreate Boskone as more of a convention for readers'” (19).

Other Clubs responded to Boskone
moved to suburbs (20)
created “stable but aging convention population” (20)

Dragon Con
“Atlanta’s Dragon Con, the largest science fiction convention in the country” (21)
“Our area directors are basically responsible for running the convention” (Ed Kramer, qtd 21).
“streamlined decision-making and greater autonomy within divisional boundaries” (22)

Most cons have not moved “from counterculture to culture” (20)

“‘totally apocryphal, nonexistent permanent floating Worldcon committee.’ This group, whose unstated membership is nonetheless fairly well known” (23) = secret masters of fandom (SMOFs)

“mosaic of creating a science fiction convention” (Peggy Rae Pavlat, qtr 23)

“SMOFs even have their own convention” (23).

“a Worldcon requires the work and expertise of about two-thirds of all the dedicated convention organizers in the country” (26)

“fandom is based primarily in the books, the clubs, and the fanzines” (29)

convention “socializes participants” (29)

“Worldcon: Mobile Geography in Real Time” (31-62)

“three issues of convention geography–boundary maintenance, enculturation, and rituals of solidarity and identity” (32)

There are conflicts intrinsic to conventions, including the stratification of the cons. (32)

“mobile geography of community life” (32)

“four factions… with competing interests” (32)
1.convention work is “primary social identity” (32)
2. fan identity “in the support and maintenance of fandom as a source of history-based traditions” (32)
3. “fan identity around a particular science fiction activity or product” (32)
4. “Those who wish to change their identity from fan to science fiction professional…” (33)

con organizers are “working to create a place for their community life to flourish” (33)

“a multiplicity of conceptually differentiated spaces within the convention venue” (33)

huge cons “make it more difficult for the individual to find and share community with like-minded participants” (33)

:all conventions must provide a defended space for the playing out of events and the safe practice of community” (34)

Con dress code:
1. casual dress (jeans, tee shirts)
2. costumes (34)

“convention experience fulfills many of the necessary steps to a more flexible understanding-based approach to knowledge. … Fandom also provides learning through many entry points:
1. Narrational, through the literature itself and through personal narratives of members.
2. Logical-quantitateive, through the panels and science slide shows and lectures.
3. Foundational, in the infinite arguments about categories, definitions, and criteria for inclusion at every level of activity.
4. Aesthetic, with the are of filk music, dance, and costume.
5. Hands-on experiential, at every point, as gopher, baby-sitter, participant on panels nd in masquerades and dances, songs, and skits.” (47)

“multi-entry delivery system, the science fiction convention is a very powerful teaching/learning institution” (48)

1. “shows new members … how to be members of the community” (48)
2. “trains its members to learn in the particular way that fandom teaches” (48)

Mass events… (54ff)

“The convention is a performative event” (60)

RMCF (Rhetorical Memory Cosplay Fandom)

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