As the new EAAS representative for BAAS, I hope to build on the success of my predecessor Martin Halliwell by forging stronger connections and knowledge-sharing between the members of BAAS and EAAS, writes Sue Currell. During my term I will be looking at best-practice in EAAS as an organization, as well as offering my knowledge of outreach, inclusivity and media communications as a former Chair of BAAS.
It’s very exciting to have been selected as the EAAS representative for BAAS at this moment in time: everything concerning Europe and America (and the UK’s relationship with both) seems ‘up for grabs’ and I’m looking forward to taking part in some of the dynamic discussions that will inevitably take place among EAAS members concerning the past, present and future of America and American studies more broadly. To hear a wider set of views and perspectives is going to be hugely rewarding, and working at keeping relationships functioning productively will clearly be an exciting challenge in the current political climate.
On an institutional level I hope that some of the experience that I gained as Chair of BAAS 2013-16 can be brought to this role. During my term I was most inspired by being able to initiate policies that led to greater inclusion of all our members at various career stages, as well as to begin to address the issue of equality and diversity in American studies more generally. I hope to bring that experience to the post of EAAS rep and to continue to work on these widening participation issues more broadly. To do this I will be looking at best-practice in EAAS as an organization and work to bring back what I learn from that to the BAAS executive, as well as offering my expertise and knowledge in this area to EAAS, where appropriate. In this way I hope to promote American studies in Europe and the UK as a discipline and academic space which is fair, tolerant and inclusive, as well as intellectually rewarding.
For BAAS I prioritized modernizing the organization and improving our outreach and media communications. Over my term as EAAS representative I would like to extend this and hope to see stronger connections made between the members of BAAS and EAAS that would lead to greater collaborations and knowledge-sharing; connected media communications; and increased support for early career and postgraduate scholars at national conferences and events. To kick this off, of course, we have the joint EAAS and BAAS conference taking place in London next April (2018) and I look forward immensely to welcoming European members and working to bring our work together more fully. I hope that through this work we can keep our intellectual field border-free, if not our nation states.
In 2019, when the BAAS conference comes to my home institution of Sussex University, I hope that many of those who come to the London conference will feel at home enough in BAAS to return and keep coming back to us each year. Finally, I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Martin Halliwell, my predecessor (twice now!) who has been tireless in his work for both BAAS and EAAS.
Sue Currell is Reader in American Literature and former Chair of the British Association for American Studies (2013-16). Her research interests include American literature, culture and modernism in the first half of the twentieth century as well as eugenics and popular culture. Among her publications are The March of Spare Time: The Problem of Leisure in the Great Depression (Pennsylvania, 2005) and American Culture in the 1920s (Edinburgh, 2009) and Popular Eugenics. She is currently writing a history of New Masses, a communist arts and culture magazine published in New York between 1926-48.