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2021 Conference FAQs

Note: Should you encounter any technical issues when submitting your proposal, please read the FAQs here to see if your particular question or situation is addressed before contacting the Home Office.

Click here to see the SCMS 2021 Online Conference Announcement.

The SCMS Annual Conference helps create a vibrant, interactive, and sustainable community for attendees and the fields of Cinema and Media Studies. We recognize that the annual meeting, even in virtual form, is more essential than ever: it brings our scholarly community together through shared scholarship, provides opportunities for scholars to learn about the job market, and facilitates networking with publishers and colleagues in our areas of expertise. In addition, one of the most important aspects of the SCMS conference is its community; sustaining and enhancing this community connection is paramount for our virtual event, as it is for our in person conferences.

We also know that many of our members are facing financial uncertainty: universities are freezing conference and travel funding, members are losing jobs and/or are unsure if they will have work in the fall, and many of our members are struggling to make ends meet. Further, domestic and international travel has become especially fraught during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our plans for 2021 are informed by these concerns. The following FAQs will be updated as we learn more and in response to your questions. Some questions are placeholders because we do not yet have answers, but we encourage you to pose questions that are not yet represented below by submitting your queries here.

Thank you for your patience as we work to organize and build the 2021 SCMS Annual Conference in virtual form. We hope that as many members as possible will participate in the conference. Panels need an audience!


When will the virtual conference be scheduled?
    •    Because of the opportunities afforded SCMS via a virtual conference, we have decided to divide the 2021 conference into a two-day pre-conference and a five-day conference.
     ◦    Two-day Pre-conference: Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6, 2021.
    ◦    Five-day Conference: Wednesday, March 17 through Sunday, March 21, 2021.
    •    The Two-day Pre-conference will consist of SIG and Caucus meetings, the Institutional Members Meeting, the Members Business Meeting, and other organizational or professional meetings.
    •    The Five-day Conference will consist of panels, workshops, roundtables, and seminars as well as special events and the 2021 Awards Ceremony.

What is the time zone of the SCMS 2021 Virtual Conference?
    •    As an international organization, SCMS aims to maximize opportunities for participation across all time zones. For planning purposes, the official time zone for the conference will be Chicago/Central Time, as Chicago was the original location for the 2021 conference. The Programming Committee will also schedule in coordination with London and Shanghai time zones.

What will the SCMS conference look like in a virtual setting? Will it function as before, in terms of length, events, etc.? Why was it divided into a pre-conference and conference?
    •    We seek to provide the best possible conference experience for presenters and attendees, many of whom may be juggling caregiving, teaching, and other responsibilities amidst a virtual conference and across many different time zones. 
    •    Separating the Pre-conference and Conference meetings will allow SCMS to:
    ◦    Program more sessions and events per day, while being attentive to international time zones, providing adequate breaks between sessions, etc.
    ◦    Ensure that members have fewer business meetings vying for their time when they might like to be engaging new scholarship in the field via panels and workshops.
    ◦    Guarantee that our small home office team can address member feedback and any key issues that may emerge in advance of the main conference program.
    ◦    Provide distribution time for panels that choose to pre-record their presentations.
    •    Because we are still coordinating various aspects of the conference, we will post updates on scheduling, technology, book exhibits, editor appointments, and more as information becomes available.

Will the length of individual panel sessions be the same as usual? How will panels be formatted?
    •    As in previous conferences, all sessions (panels, etal.)  will continue to be programmed in time slots of one hour and 45 minutes. 
    •    Panel chairs and participants may use this time in a number of ways. In addition to the traditional panel format (three-to-four synchronous, twenty minute papers delivered with time for Q&A afterwards), chairs and participants are encouraged to consider varying the format to maximize their virtual time together. Suggestions include shortening the length of presentations; having presenters submit a prerecorded video of their talk, to be followed by a Q&A; or showing video essays instead of papers.

Will sessions or events be recorded?
    •    Information to follow.

How much will this year’s conference registration cost?
    •    We are still determining the 2021 SCMS conference registration rates and will post this information as soon as possible. 
    •    Registration for 2021 will be lower than usual, but we cannot confirm a rate until we are able to finalize more details of our virtual conference arrangements. As a reminder, SCMS relies on membership and registration fees to run the conference and maintain baseline operations, including staff salaries, for the organization throughout the year. Without these funds, the organization cannot remain solvent.
    •    Please note: NO membership dues are required to submit a proposal for the 2021 conference; however, membership and registration will be required to present and appear in the program. 

How will transferred 2020 registration fees work?
    •    For those members that carried over their 2020 registration fees, we ask that any difference in registration rates from 2020 to 2021 be donated to support graduate students and precariously employed colleagues with registration assistance. 
    •    If you rolled over your 2020 registration fee but are unable to donate the difference to this cause, a refund request form will be available once registration rates are determined.

Do I need to be a member to submit a 2021 conference proposal?
    •    Given the many uncertainties facing our membership, you will not be required to join or renew your membership before submitting a 2021 conference proposal
    •    Please note this is a one time only change and membership will be required to submit proposals to future conferences. SCMS relies on membership and registration fees not only to run the conference but also to maintain baseline operations for the organization throughout the year. 
May I participate in the virtual conference without being a member?
    •    As with our in-person conference, you must be an SCMS member and register to present at the 2021 conference. 

What does conference registration provide?
This year, conference registration fees will cover:
    •    Access to a virtual platform to allow SCMS members to continue to share scholarship through panels, workshops, roundtables and seminars.
    •    Accommodations for various live and pre-recorded special events and meetings.
    •    Opportunities to network with publishers, editors, and interact with a publisher’s exhibition site.
    •    Additional features we hope to include are other social connections via our virtual platform, to allow for networking and continued mentorship.
    •    When combined with membership dues, the registration fee confirms your inclusion in the conference schedule (as a presenter listed in the program) and covers the operating costs and expenses that sustain SCMS as an organization throughout the year, including funding for Caucus/SIGs, travel and dependent care grants, registration waivers for graduate students and so on. SCMS is a non-profit organization: all income cycles back to members. 


NOTE: If you choose to resubmit a 2020 proposal for the 2021 conference, there will be a field in the proposal form to indicate that your paper or panel was previously accepted and you will automatically be accepted for 2021.

I am re-submitting my 2020 paper/panel/workshop/roundtable proposal to the 2021 conference. What should I know?
    •    If you choose to resubmit, you may not submit any other proposals. 
    •    With the exception of seminars, you may only do one role—panelist, chair, respondent, workshop presenter or roundtable presenter—at the 2021 conference. You should also plan to renew your membership, since your proposal will be automatically accepted. 
    •    All accepted 2020 proposals have been pre-loaded into our submission portal.  Please review your proposal for correct affiliation and contact information before resubmitting.
    •    Accept/decline notices, as well as acceptance confirmations of resubmitted 2020 proposals, will be sent in late October.

My “open call” paper was accepted in 2020 and I was assigned to a panel, but I don’t know the panelists. How should I resubmit my proposal? 
    •    We recommend that “open call” papers accepted in 2020 be resubmitted as individual “open call” papers in 2021. These will be automatically accepted and incorporated into the program. 
    •    However, you may also choose to contact the members assigned to your 2020 panel (listed on the 2020 program) to coordinate and resubmit as a 2021 pre-constituted panel. If so, you can indicate on the proposal that these papers were originally accepted as “open call” papers in 2020.

Not all members of my 2020 panel can virtually attend in 2021. Will I be assigned a new panel?
    •    Only preconstituted panels from 2020 that retain 3-4 original members can be resubmitted as preconstituted panels in 2021; panels proceeding with fewer than 3 original members are asked to resubmit as individual “open call” papers in 2021. These will be automatically accepted and incorporated into the program.
    •    If your panel does not want to go forward, you may also choose to resubmit your individual paper.  Individual papers resubmitted from accepted 2020 panels will automatically be accepted and placed in new panel formations. 

    •    Seminars from 2020 will not be automatically accepted for 2021. This is because much work on seminars is done before the conference and seminar members may have been able to discuss their materials despite the conference cancellation.
    •    While we normally avoid having seminar chairs repeat from year to year, if you were scheduled to chair a seminar in 2020, this year you will be eligible to propose a new one on a different topic for the 2021 conference.  Please note: you will not be guaranteed acceptance.

If panels are carrying over from 2020, will there be any room for new proposals in 2021?
    •    This year’s conference will be comparable in size to previous years and there will be many opportunities for new panels, papers, workshops, and roundtables to be accepted. 

I am submitting a seminar proposal. What should I know?
    •    The deadline for 2021 seminar proposals is the same as all other proposals: September 21, 2020.
    •    The seminar format is particularly suited to the virtual environment, since much of the work is done before the conference begins. 
    •    As in the past, seminars will be EXEMPT from the one-role rule. This means you can join a seminar even if you present a paper, or participate in a workshop or roundtable. 
    •    For 2021, seminar leaders will be notified of their proposal status at the same time all other acceptance notices are sent at the end of October.  
    •    While seminars from 2020 will not roll over to 2021, the 2020 seminar leaders are eligible to propose a new seminar on a different topic for 2021. You will not be guaranteed acceptance, however.
    •    In 2021, all seminars will be streamed as webinars so that spectators can watch, even if not officially signed up.
    •    For more information, please see “What are Seminars?” on our general Conference FAQ page.

What’s the status of workshops and roundtables?
    •    Like seminars, workshops and roundtables are suited to the virtual environment, and proposals for either are encouraged.
    •    Workshops and roundtables are NOT EXEMPT from the one-role rule.
    •    For more on workshops and roundtables, please see “Presentation Compositions” on our general Conference FAQ page.


How will special events happen?
    •    We plan to program one special event per day of the conference, such as the 2021 SCMS Awards Ceremony and a special town hall, hosted by the Precarious Labor Organization, that was originally scheduled for 2020. 
    •    We will host 3 more special events, for which members are invited to propose ideas. More information on special event proposals for 2021 can be found here. The deadline for special event proposals is Friday, October 2, 5:00PM CT.

Will there be an Awards Ceremony?
    •    Yes, there will be an awards ceremony during the virtual conference. Please watch for more information regarding the date and time of this event.


My favorite part of SCMS is the community engagement. How will that happen during a virtual conference?
    •    Retaining the important community-building opportunities that the traditional, face-to-face SCMS conference provides is a key focus of our planning given this year’s virtual format. 
    •    In addition to SIG and Caucus meetings, we are exploring social events that will create and enhance connections between members. We want to provide opportunities for those casual conversations that often spur new collaborative work—no masks required. More in the coming months!

How will Caucus and SIG meetings work?
    •    Caucus and SIG meetings will take place during the Pre-conference scheduled for March 5 and March 6. Caucus and SIG chairs will be free to make use of that time in the way they feel works best for their group. Caucus and SIGs will be allowed to sign up for their time slots, as in the past.

Will each group receive funds from SCMS even though the conference is virtual?
    •    Due to our ongoing financial stresses and our transition to a virtual environment, SCMS will not be able to administer as many funds as we typically do. 
    •    SCMS will continue to fund pre-existing, ongoing prizes (cash that was attached to a prize in the past) given by Caucuses and SIGs, but we cannot accept proposals for new cash prizes or requests for 2021 entertainment or meeting funds. 
    •    In cases where Caucuses and SIGs have given travel grants in the past, they can direct their members to apply for registration grants from the general SCMS travel fund. 
    •    Other requests for funds will be considered on an ad hoc basis.


What are the benefits of membership and how do I join SCMS?

    •    SCMS relies on membership fees to survive. In addition to ensuring participation in the SCMS 2021 Virtual Conference program, your membership provides SCMS operating costs throughout the year. While the cost of running a virtual conference will be less than our usual in-person conference, it is not without cost and is a benefit of membership. 
    •    Membership covers the operating costs and expenses that sustain SCMS as an organization throughout the year, including funding for Caucus/SIGs, travel grants and dependent care grants, registration waivers for graduate students and so on. SCMS is a non-profit organization: all income cycles back to its members.
    •    For more on the benefits of membership dues, please visit our membership page.

Why isn’t SCMS 2021 a hybrid conference?
    •    The costs and labor associated with hosting an in-person and an online conference are too high this year, especially as SCMS recovers financially from the 2020 cancellation and as we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    •    Just two of the many, serious considerations were contractual obligations to our conference hotel as well as trying to foresee the many challenges that members may experience around the precarity of travel during the pandemic. 
    •    However, our primary rationale was to alleviate uncertainty and provide members with as much clarity as possible, now. For example, we think it serves the profession better to maximize accessibility for our international membership with a virtual conference in 2021, given ongoing travel challenges due to the pandemic, US executive orders, and more.

Will SCMS accept online presentations in future “in-person” conferences?
    •    After the 2021 conference, the Board will consider the success of the conference from a number of perspectives—drawing from our post-conference survey, our financial situation, and our technical needs, among other things—in making a decision about 2022. This is a new venture for all of us, and we thank you for your patience and understanding. 


After SCMS cancelled 2020, I rebooked my flight for the 2021 SCMS conference. Will I be able to get a refund for my airline ticket?
    •    Unfortunately, SCMS is unable to refund attendees and exhibitors for any airlines tickets purchased.  Please contact your airlines as soon as possible to inquire about refunds/cancellation policies to see if there is anything that can be done.

How should I record my participation in SCMS21 on my CV?
    •    If you are a presenter, we would recommend that you enter the following: “Paper Title," Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2021. Paper accepted, paper presented via virtual conference, March 2021.

General Conference FAQs about things like what makes a successful proposal, panel types and participants, the proposal review process, and more can be found at

Updates to FAQ pages will be ongoing as more information is available. Thank you.

Contact Us

Society for Cinema and Media Studies
640 Parrington Oval
Wallace Old Science Hall, Room 300
Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-8075