Worldcon–September 2, 2012–Teaching SF Focus On Educators

I’ve been involved with the AboutSF program for about two years now, the description for which is in the notes for the panel above. This panel was an interesting and far ranging one about methods, processes and theories of education in the fantasy and science fiction fields, and David-Glenn Anderson (also the coordinator), Tim Griffin, Violette Malan, Chris Mirell and I covered a lot of ground with a lot of thoughtful questions to answer (and it was nice to have longer than an hour to talk about this stuff, for a change!).

Brandon Sanderson–Q and A with Fantasy Fiction Course at St. John’s University, March 2012

I’d love to take total credit for this one, but in some ways this opportunity sort of fell in my lap. I met Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling fantasy author and one of the ones I most admire in our field, at Worldcon in 2011, hoping to get him to agree to an interview for my podcast Speculate!; during the course of our conversation, he not only agreed to do that but volunteered to do a video session with my fantasy fiction students the following semester. We ended up studying his brand new novel The Alloy of Law, and as promised Brandon spoke with my class from his home in Utah for nearly an hour, fielding questions from my students and me. As expected, my students loved the experience, and (though I admit to being a bit biased) they asked a lot of great questions…so it worked out well for all concerned. The video quality isn’t amazing, but I think it’s clear enough to give you a sense of the session.

Bryan Thao Worra–Presentation to Creative Writing Course at St. John’s University, February 2012

The concluding presentation to my creative writing course from professionals in other creative disciplines was done by Bryan Thao Worra, whom I first met at a small conference in Minnesota called Fantasy Matters. Bryan is the first Laotian American poet to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts, and if you have a chance to read his work you’ll understand why–it’s interesting, creative, and often startling in its insight and reach. Here Bryan explains some of the differences in the way most people see the world as compared to how a poet is trained to see it.

Panel Appearance at Worldcon, August 17, 2011–Stretching the Mind While Thinking Outside the Box

This is a panel I was on at Worldcon 2011 in Reno, about innovative ways teachers at all levels can integrate science fiction into their courses. This was part of the AboutSF program, which is a great outreach program out of the University of Kansas and a joint project of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association. I had been asked to participate in the program a couple of years ago, but schedules didn’t match up until this Worldcon; I was pleased to be able to do it this year with people like Maurine Starkey, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Stephen Potts and Gary Wolfe. We talked about a number of things related to the teaching of science fiction and fantasy, and I got a few ideas myself from some of the panelists’ suggestions here.

Panel Appearance at Ad Astra, April 9, 2010–The Joy(s) of Teaching Speculative Fiction

This is a panel I was on at Ad Astra 2010 in Toronto, about issues concerning the teaching of courses in speculative fiction. I’ve been teaching such a course since just about the time I first got to St. John’s, and so I was looking forward to finding out what other professors (in this case, Mike Johnstone and Bob Boyczuk) were doing in their classes. We had a small turnout (hey, I’m not sure I would be incredibly excited to attend a panel at 10 p.m. on a Friday night either!), but this was an informative panel, and we all (apparently) had a good time. (Keep in mind that although the audio quality was pretty good, there is still a spike or two in volume despite my best attempts to smooth them out.)