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Annual Meeting Policies

See 2020 Virtual Meeting: Policy Updates for new information specific to the 2020 virtual meeting; the updates complement and expand on these ongoing policies, and include corrected dates for the 2020 cancellation policy.



AFS strives to ensure that all meeting participants have equal opportunities to engage in and contribute to its annual meeting. AFS selects only ADA-compliant meeting venues. Presenters and attendees are encouraged to request accommodations that will support their full participation in the conference; call or email at least 60 days before the meeting.

As a step towards equitable access, AFS has developed Guidelines for conference presenters to follow in order to make their work more accessible to all. AFS asks all presenters to read and follow these guidelines and to ask for assistance if needed. The guidelines can be downloaded as a Word doc or access as a pdf).

As attendees may experience multiple chemical sensitivities, please refrain from wearing all perfumes and use fragrance-free, unscented personal care products for the duration of our event.

AFS Membership

Both AFS members and non-members may submit proposals for presentations, or may simply attend the meeting without presenting, but non-members must pay the higher registration fees noted on the registration form.

Appropriate Behavior

The American Folklore Society is committed to providing a professional environment, at the AFS annual meeting and at other AFS-sponsored activities, that upholds values of inclusion, safety, and mutual respect. AFS expects participants at its annual meeting and at other AFS-sponsored activities to follow the same standards of ethical engagement there as they do elsewhere in their practice as folklorists, and in everyday life.

Our standards do not tolerate any discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, body size, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, physical appearance, political perspective, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic. Our standards call for sensitivity to power dynamics, exhibited in part through respect for the ideas, work, personal autonomy, and contributions of individuals in more junior positions in the field. Our standards include a belief in the rights of free speech and open inquiry, as well as respect and tolerance for people with worldviews, opinions, and experiences different from our own.

We expect all participants not to engage in any form of harassment at the AFS annual meeting and at other AFS-sponsored activities. Attendees should hold themselves and each other to these expectations. Anyone requested to stop harassing or other inappropriate behavior is expected to comply immediately.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Personal remarks about individuals that reinforce damaging social structures of domination (e.g., related to age, body size, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, physical appearance, political perspective, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic)
  • Inappropriate use of sexual images in public spaces
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
  • Unwanted photography or recording
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Unwelcome sexual attention
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior

The Society seeks to provide meaningful support to members who have experienced harassment at AFS meeting program events. If you are the target or witness of harassment or other inappropriate behavior, we encourage you to report the incident to AFS Executive Director Jessica Turner (, AFS Associate Director Lorraine Walsh Cashman (,  or AFS Membership Director Meredith McGriff ( These officially designated contacts can serve as intermediaries, sounding boards, confidantes, and informal advisers; they can also confer with you about possible next steps. Reporting an incident of harassment does not obligate the reporter to pursue any further action. The Society's goal above all is to support vulnerable members of the community and to strategize to end the harassment in question. As a voluntary professional organization, the Society is limited in its ability to respond formally to charges of harassment, but it will follow its professional and ethical responsibility to respond to reports of harassment among its membership, to protect the privacy of all concerned within the limits of the law, and to report complaint statistics to its members. 

AFS reserves the right to prohibit attendance at any AFS meeting or activity or take other action it deems appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances.

If you have immediate concerns about safety at the annual meeting, report them first to security (instructions specific to the venue will be provided in program materials), or to the police at 911.


Audiovisual Equipment

AV equipment and technical support constitute the single largest expense of the annual meeting, typically amounting to more than half of all meeting costs. AFS strives to balance the need to support presenters with the need to keep registration rates as low as possible by concentrating on essential AV services.

AFS will provide data projectors and screens in every meeting room, and audio systems in larger meeting rooms and in all rooms in which media sessions will take place. All presenters must bring their own computers, and Mac users should bring the appropriate 15-pin VGA adapter for their particular model. If your presentation requires higher-quality audio than that provided by your computer, make that request when prompted on the proposal submission form (if you are participating in an organized session, please inform your chair as well). We will endeavor to place your presentation or session, if accepted, into a meeting room with an audio system. 

Individuals who can’t bring their own computers are advised to coordinate with other members of their panel to share equipment.

Free basic wireless internet will be available in all meeting space at the Annual Meeting. Presenters should be aware that the bandwidth of the in-house wifi does not support video streaming of any kind. Presenters who wish to show video are advised to bring their video file on their own personal computer or storage device.


Once a paper or session is submitted, it is expected that the author(s) will present their paper at the conference if the proposal is accepted. Participation in the conference is competitive, and a cancelled presentation eliminates a spot that could have accommodated another presenter. Moreover, the cost is greater in staff time and in inconvenience to attendees when gaps are created in the program schedule (see No-Shows, Schedule of Presentations and Withdrawals, below).

As a courtesy to AFS members, conference presenters, and attendees, AFS strongly discourages presenters from canceling their participation in the conference after proposals have been submitted. Those who find that they can't attend the meeting are encouraged to find someone else to read their papers. In any case, please notify AFS of any changes to the program as soon as possible.

The refund policy is as follows:

  • Registrants who are not named on the program may receive a full refund until August 31; after that, no refunds will be issued.
  • No refunds will be issued after May 1 to program participants (chairs, presenters, discussants, etc.) who withdraw their presentations.
  • Presenters who wait until October 1 to notify AFS that they will not present will not be considered for the next year's annual meeting. No penalty will be imposed and partial refunds may be issued to those who can't attend because of visa difficulties or other last-minute, unforeseen emergencies.


AFS considers "no-shows" to be those who are not physically present at their scheduled sessions at the annual meeting and who have either (1) not notified AFS in advance that they cannot attend the meeting or (2) have not submitted a presentation to be read by the chair or another person at the meeting.

No-shows are conspicuous in their absence. They inconvenience the chair, their fellow presenters, and those attending the session. No-shows may not present for the next two meetings. There is no penalty if you notify AFS in advance of October 1, or submit a presentation to be made by someone else at your session. You are responsible for finding your own alternative presenter and notifying AFS of the change. Note: It is not enough to inform your panel chair; if you do not inform AFS, you will be penalized as a no-show. Contact as soon as your plans change.

Number of Presentations

You may "present" only once at the annual meeting. "Presenting" means: giving a paper, diamond presentation, or participating in a forum in some capacity.

However, individuals may also serve as chair in one other paper or diamond panel. This exception does not apply to forums, since the chair of a forum participates equally in the discussion, rather than serving in a support position.

Discussants are typically counted as presenters because they occupy a presentation slot; contact Lorraine Walsh Cashman ( if you believe circumstances warrant an exception.

No one may participate in more than two sessions altogether.

Exceptions will be made for those who are invited by AFS to present in the service of an AFS project.

In years past, participants were allowed to participate in two forums, or to present a paper and participate in a forum. This is no longer the case.

Presentations that have been given at previous AFS annual meetings will not be sent to the planning committee for review. Films may be re-presented once if the work has been substantially revised since the previous showing; thus, a filmmaker may show a rough cut and the (nearly) final product, but may not present the same title more than twice.

Photography and Recording

AFS reserves the right to take still photographs of program events and public conference space at the annual meeting, and to record selected annual meeting sessions, for possible publication or distribution on its web site, newsletter, or other official publications. Recordings may be audio or video. By frequenting conference events and space, attendees are granting permission to AFS to be included in such photographs and recordings. We will require signed permissions from all annual meeting presenters whose presentations we intend to videorecord.

Program Content

AFS staff takes responsibility for representing the program schedule as accurately as possible. Presenters are solely responsible for the views and personal information they provide for the program; AFS staff exercises minimal editorial control, but reserves the right to edit for length, clarity, grammatical correctness and tone in all data submitted in proposals. Program participants are responsible for reviewing their information in the preliminary program; corrections must be submitted by July 1 in order to be captured in print program material.

Remote Presenters

Because AFS receives more presentation proposals than space allows in the program, year after year, our priority is to serve those who are interested in attending the conference in person.  We discourage the use of prerecorded presentations or papers read by others except under unusual circumstances. Hotel and convention center facilities very rarely offer the bandwidth that would permit Skype or other live applications. Please contact us for consideration of specific cases.

Schedule of Presentations

All paper or diamond sessions include a schedule with a starting time for each presentation or general discussion block; the assigned time slots for each paper or diamond presentation include time for the presentation itself and also for Q&A for that presenter. It is critical that all panel participants observe and enforce their scheduled times, because many attendees rely on the schedule to move from paper to paper. Because papers are typically withdrawn even during the conference itself, we strongly urge all presenters and attendees to check for program changes before the start of each session. See Withdrawals, below.

The manner of distributing program updates may vary with the technology available from year to year, but typically, changes received before October 1 are distributed in print with the program book, while all changes, including those received during the meeting, can be found in an online addendum attached to the AFS annual meeting webpage. Digital program materials are likely to reflect all known changes. Check the AFS annual meeting webpage at the time of the meeting for more information.

Session Guidelines

Assembled Panels

Accepted proposals for individual presentations are grouped by the Review Committee into panels. The Review Committee uses its best professional judgment as it weighs many variables in creating panels, including finding not just points of intersection between papers, but also creating opportunities for conversations across "silos." Panels may include a variety of presentation formats and variable durations. Submissions that specify a standard paper, short paper, or diamond format are scheduled accordingly. Submissions that indicate flexibility concerning duration are assigned a 15-minute or 30-minute time slot according to where they best fit in the program; all presenters should check the preliminary program to confirm which slot they are actually assigned, and contact AFS staff by June 30 to correct any errors. Each time slot includes time for the presentation itself, as well as time for questions. Panelists may request specific schedule adaptations by June 30, but should abide by the printed schedule during the session.

Diamond Sessions

Preorganized panels may consist of 6-8 diamond presentations, a formalized presentation genre structured by time and images: individual diamond presentations are seven minutes long and are organized around 21 slides that are set to advance automatically every 20 seconds. Each diamond presentation is allotted 15 minutes, including a few minutes to ready the equipment, seven minutes for the presentation, and the remaining time for questions and discussion. Additional time for discussion will be indicated as appropriate in the published schedule. Panelists may request specific schedule adaptations by June 30, but should abide by the printed schedule during the session.


Forums are informal discussions organized around a specific subject, issue, theme, or topic. Forums should include no more than six participants, and should be designed for extensive interaction among the panel and audience. Forums should not include formal presentations, like papers, but may include very brief (5 minute) remarks from each participant to orient the discussion. Forum chairs participate fully in the discussion with other panelists, so all forum participants are held to the same limits on the Number of Presentations (see above).

Media Presentations/Sessions

Media sessions feature the presentation of one or multiple audio or video works in a two-hour session. Media presentations may be completed or works-in-progress. Media playing time is indicated in the program.

Short Paper Sessions

Preorganized panels may consist of 5-7 short papers in 15-minute blocks. Each presentation is allotted 10 minutes for the paper, followed immediately by 5 minutes for questions. Additional time for discussion will be indicated as appropriate in the published schedule. Panelists may request specific schedule adaptations by June 30, but should abide by the printed schedule during the session.

Standard Paper Sessions

A standard paper session consists of a set of papers on a given topic to be presented in a two-hour session. Each paper presentation is allotted 30 minutes on the program, including time for a brief introduction, 20 minutes for the presentation, and 5-10 minutes immediately following the presentation for questions and discussion. There can be no more than four 20-minute papers in a single standard panel session. If a session includes a discussant, there can be no more than three papers in that session. Additional time for discussion will be indicated as appropriate in the published schedule. Panelists may request specific schedule adaptations by June 30, but should abide by the printed schedule during the session.

Social Media Use

AFS supports social media as communication channels that can complement our annual meeting. AFS expects all meeting participants to adhere to our standards of professional annual meeting behavior; as the social media community and its norms continue to emerge and evolve, we particularly ask social media users to be mindful of the standards of ethical engagement below. Although we use Twitter as an example in this policy statement, the basic framework and principles described here are meant to be applied across all social networking platforms.


Do not use any visual or audio recording devices to record presentations without the express approval of the presenter. Enforcement is the responsibility of the session chair, as directed by the speaker. Audio and video recordings of sessions should not be made or posted without the permission of all panelists or seminar members, ideally secured through the chair in advance of the session. Any speaker has the right to request that his or her work and comments not be tweeted. Please ask subjects involved before posting and tagging photos.

Professional Tone

The meeting hashtag represents an extension of the conference online. As such, we encourage participants to consider their comments to be public, avoiding remarks that would be inappropriate in other professional spaces.

Fair Quotation

Live-tweeting often represents itself as a transcript of spoken words. Tweeters should be aware of the potential for misrepresentation, appropriation, and removal of context. It is important to attribute tweets with a speaker’s handle or full name (e.g. @handle:xxx); presenters’ handles may be found in the program book’s index of presenters. Retweeting and favoriting remove tweets from temporal sequence, so it is best to attribute individual tweets, rather than just the first in a sequence.

AFS encourages 2020 annual meeting attendees to live tweet using #afsam20 and to share their Twitter handles.

For more guidelines, see: 


Every year, some papers are withdrawn after program materials are published, up to and during the conference itself. Because withdrawals have a significant impact on the schedule of presentations, AFS staff will attempt to record all known paper withdrawals in digital program materials and on the program addendum. Since withdrawals are likely to affect the start times and even the sequence of all remaining papers in a session, it is very important that presenters and attendees check for updates to the schedule at the start of each session. (See Schedule of Presentations above for more information.)

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