BAAS AGM 2010
The 2010 AGM of BAAS was held on Friday 9 April at the University of East Anglia at 4.00pm.
Chair Martin Halliwell (to 2013)
Committee Ian Bell (to 2013)*
PG Rep Zalfa Feghali (to 2012)*
*Not eligible for re-election to this position.
The Secretary asked the membership to consider the motion raised in the AGM 2010 Notice (published in the Spring issue of American Studies in Britain) regarding the addition of the JAS Associate Editor as an ex-officio member of the BAAS Executive Committee. This entails a change to the BAAS Standing Orders, which must be approved by the membership at the AGM. The Secretary explained that this change was necessary to ensure that JAS was always represented at BAAS Executive Committee meetings. Heidi Macpherson (DeMontfort) proposed the acceptance of the motion; Will Kaufman (UCLAN) seconded it, and it was carried unanimously.
The Treasurer circulated copies of the Trustees’ Report and the draft audited accounts, which she asked the AGM to approve. Dick Ellis (Birmingham) proposed that the accounts be approved; Nick Selby (UEA) seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 6 April 2010) were as follows: General Deposit, £26,819.70; Short Term Awards, £1882.46; Current, £3903.31; making a total of £32,605.47. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 and the US Dollar Account has $9,448.51.
TS also reported on membership figures. There are currently 294 fully paid up members (118 of which are Postgraduates), which compares to 462 (including 160 Postgraduates) at this time last year. When those who have not updated their Standing Orders are included, this number rises to 481 in total (with 171 Postgraduates). With the addition of those who have not renewed for 2010 (i.e. those who pay by cheque) the numbers rise to 600 members (including 238 Postgraduates). TS reminded the AGM of the need to update Standing Orders (to inform the bank of the new BAAS membership fees) as those who have not done so are not full members and therefore are not entitled to vote in the elections. This failure to update Standing Orders is the reason behind the dip in membership numbers.
In terms of the accounts, TS noted a healthy deficit again this year. She informed the AGM that BAAS had appointed new accountants to clarify some procedural points and save money. She also drew attention to the increased resources of £13,000 due to additional funds from Nottingham and the Eccles Centre.
The Chair offered a comprehensive verbal report, in which she reflected on the last three years during her tenure as BAAS Chair and on the last decade as it is exactly a decade that she served the community on the BAAS Executive Committee. The Chair noted that she was first elected at the conference in Swansea in April 2000, became Secretary at Oxford in 2002, and Chair at Leicester in 2007. During that decade, undergraduate programmes in American Studies have come and gone, patterns of recruitment at postgraduate level have changed, two RAEs have assessed our research capacity and strength, the Institute for the Study of the Americas was born which puts American Studies into a hemispheric context, alongside Latin American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Canadian Studies, and the BAAS committee has extended its support of American Studies activities exponentially, with new awards such as the BAAS book prize, the Eccles Centre fellowships, the Founders’ Awards, and the Ambassador’s Awards.
HM noted that at last year’s AGM in Nottingham, she offered an upbeat portrait of American Studies, and added that while that vision was subsequently criticized, she stands by her assessment of the strength of our community. A list of the achievements and awards of individual members and those affiliated with BAAS surely indicates as much. David Brauner was made Reader at Reading this year, as was Jacqueline Fear-Segal at UEA. Steve Burman was awarded a Chair at Sussex. Tony Badger was selected to lead the Kennedy Memorial Trust. Professor Sir David Watson was awarded the THE Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award.
A number of BAAS members have received substantial grants or fellowships: Alan Rice from UCLAN received a £4000 grant for his work on a dramatic tableau of the slave trade, Lee Sartain from Portsmouth received a British Academy grant for £4000. George Lewis from Leicester received a British Academy Research Development Award worth £111,404 over 3 years. Jo Gill from Exeter received an AHRC award for her project “The Poetics of the American Suburbs”, worth over £23,000. Kasia Boddy (UCL) received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship of £45,000 for her project “The Great American Novel”.
Sam Edwards received Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award. Stephanie Lewthwaite from Nottingham was awarded a Bill and Rita Clements Research Fellowship in the US. Simon Newman was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship.
BAAS members have also won prizes. Tim Lynch was awarded the 2009 Richard E. Neustadt Book Prize for After Bush: The Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy, which he co-authored with Robert Singh at Birkbeck. John Ashworth from Nottingham was awarded the Southern Historical Association's James A. Rawley Book Award. Peter Messent has received the American Studies Network Book Prize for his book Mark Twain and Male Friendship book (the prize is to be split between him and UEA’s Christopher Bigsby).
And in terms BAAS’s impact, the Chair noted that our members offer public lectures, speak on radio and television, and some even go so far as to offer their services to Glastonbury as folk singers. All of this is evidence of the high esteem in which American Studies colleagues are held, and the prominence of the research we undertake.
HM noted that we have also lost friends and colleagues this year: Albert Gordon, Allan Lloyd Smith, who was a former Treasurer of BAAS, and Jack Pole, who many will remember as a long-time conference attendee.
On behalf of BAAS, the Chair attended a number of events this year, including REF meetings, Institute for the Study of the Americas events including book launches, the Journal of American Studies board meeting, and the annual 4th of July barbeque at the US Ambassador’s House. HM was invited to attend a number of other events, including inaugural lectures for Tim Woods and Douglas Tallack, regional meetings and association meetings, many of which were attended by others on the committee when HM had a diary conflict.
HM reminded the membership that, on behalf of BAAS, the officers and members of the Executive Committee work extremely hard to protect and enhance American Studies in the UK. The Executive Committee aims to ensure that the voice of American Studies is heard as universities, funding bodies and the government make their decisions, writing to Vice Chancellors and Deans when made aware of potential course closures, and with some success. BAAS fought for American Studies provision at Liverpool, the ASRC, and at King’s College London, and certainly an earlier decision at King’s has been re-examined, with a consultation on closure extended until the end of this month, with some very hopeful signs. This year, Wolverhampton announced the closure of its American Studies provision due to falling student numbers, and Northampton also decided to close its programme though much of the provision will remain in other arenas. Sussex has restructured its provision. At the same time, a new American Studies programme has been validated at the University of Ulster (Magee campus) and other colleagues reported record admissions figures in the autumn and high application figures in the spring.
In addition to the work the Executive Committee undertakes to protect American Studies provision, it also responds to a variety of consultation exercises, often with little notice. Over the last year, this has included responding to the following:
The Chair noted that the Annual Heads of American Studies meeting took place on 16 June 2009, with a good number of attendees, who offered a positive response to the upcoming REF; the meeting featured an informed discussion led by Professor Paul Cammack, chair of the previous RAE panel. Subsequent to this, in the late autumn, Prof. Cammack and HM arranged a meeting in Manchester for Area Studies colleagues to discuss their submissions to the consultation. The Chair submitted BAAS’s response to the REF consultation documentation, on the 10th of December and urged colleagues to continue to engage positively with HEFCE regarding their plans. One of the ways in which BAAS is taking a leading role is with the implementation of a Media contacts database, which has been organized by Mark Whalan and to which she encouraged the membership to submit details as this is an excellent way to demonstrate impact in preparation for the REF.
The Chair reported that in the past year she also undertook to assess the CD-rom project, to which BAAS contributed substantial funds for the benefit of our members, and noted that the project appears to be a success. The BAAS Executive is working actively with the Schools Liaison member, Chris Bates. BAAS has opened a dialogue with Michael Macy, Cultural Attaché to India, who was formerly based in London, about international links, and works closely as part of EAAS as well.
The Chair noted that BAAS offers many important services to the community. This year alone, BAAS will award 31 prizes worth a total of over £39,150, not including the support and funding offered to conference organizers. The Chair gratefully acknowledged the assistance of the US Embassy and also of individual BAAS members who regularly contribute to the Short Term Travel Award funds or who donate anonymously in other ways. HM also acknowledged the support and professionalism of a number of executive member and other members in judging these awards, which is carried out anonymously.
The Chair thanked all of the members of the BAAS Executive Committee, past and present, who have served during her term as Chair, including Chris Bates, Ian Bell, Paul Blackburn, Susan Castillo, Richard Crockatt, Jude Davies, Philip Davies, Martin Halliwell, Will Kaufman, Andrew Lawson George Lewis, Sarah MacLachlan, Robert Mason, Jo Metcalf, Catherine Morley, Theresa Saxon, Ian Scott, Graham Thompson, and Mark Whalan. In addition to thanking our postgraduate member, Michael Collins, she congratulated him on successfully passed his viva recently. To the other officers of the committee, HM extended particular thanks, for their good humour, their collegiate attitude, and their willingness to get involved and to work so hard on behalf of BAAS. She reminded the membership to look at the Executive Committee not as the whole sum of BAAS, but as conduits; BAAS is much larger than its thirteen-strong elected representation but can only be truly effective if the community engages fully with the Association.
HM concluded by introducing the new BAAS website and noting that BAAS conferences remain just as engaging and stimulating as the first she attended in 1993 at Sunderland, as a postgraduate. These conferences are vital to Britain’s American Studies community, and they succeed because of a tremendous amount of preparation and hard work. The Chair noted her thanks to Dr Thomas Ruys Smith and his colleagues at UEA, for organizing such an excellent conference. She noted her confidence in the strength of the committee and the strength of the American Studies community in the twenty-first century.
Sarah MacLachlan began her report by acknowledging what a huge success the UEA conference had been so far, and offered public congratulations to Thomas Ruys Smith and his team at UEA for the hard work they had put in before and during the conference. SM noted that this year she had visited the 2011 conference site at UCLAN with Theresa Saxon, the 2011 conference organiser. The conference will be based the University of Central Lancashire (14-17 April 2011) and preparations are already well underway. She noted that the call for papers was available in conference packs and members were asked to consider submitting proposals early to allow for planning.
The 2012 conference will be held at the University of Manchester, organized by Ian Scott, with the University of Exeter hosting the conference in 2013, and the University of Birmingham taking on the conference in 2014. Finally, SM invited suggestions for future conferences.
Martin Halliwell began his verbal report by reminding the AGM that the minutes of all meetings are published on the BAAS website, so that individuals may keep updated about current activities. He then reported on some of the highlights of the year in relation to the Publications subcommittee. In relation to BRRAM (British Records Relating to America in Microform), Ken Morgan (Brunel) and Roderic Vassie (MAP) have been very active in developing the BRRAM catalogue. Microform Academic Publishers has now launched its online gateway, British Online Archives, which includes a selection of eight BRRAM titles under the series title ‘British Records on the Atlantic World, 1700-1850’ (www.britishonlinearchives.co.uk). This initiative was publicized in the last issue of ASIB, including details of a special one-year institutional access to these eight BRRAM titles. Future titles are underway based on material at the Rhodes House Library, Oxford; the University of London Archives; and Bangor University. Ken Morgan is looking to expand the series and would welcome any suggestions of new papers for the collection.
In relation to the BAAS EUP series, the series editors, Simon Newman and Carol Smith and EUP Commissioning Editors Nicola Ramsey/James Dale have been busy throughout the year. Kasia Boddy’s book on The American Short Story is now in press and will be published soon and Theresa Saxon’s monograph on American Theatre will be by the end of the summer. MH also reported that sales figures of recent and back catalogue books in the series are strong.
MH reported that the Editor of JAS, Susan Castillo, Associate Editor, Scott Lucas and CUP representative Martine Walsh have been working very hard in 2009-10 to streamline and develop JAS. This year JAS moved to four issues per year with a page length of 240 pp. per issue, supplemented by extra features available in the online version. The digital archive of JAS going back to 1967 is now available through JSTOR Version 5, with plans to make the JAS forerunner, the British Association for American Studies Bulletin, available as well. MH noted that he have given a presentation in March at an ‘American Studies in the 21st Century’ Conference in Hyderabad (sponsored by the US Embassy) and the delegates were very interested to learn about JSTOR availability – it was also a good opportunity to promote the journal to Asian academics. The CUP First View facility which has now been introduced to JAS means that articles are now available online ahead of the print publication date. MH welcomed the following as new editorial board members: Brian Ward (Manchester), Wai Chee Dimock (Yale), Giles Scott Smith (Middelburg, Holland) and Susan Currell (Sussex). MH also announced the new editorial team for JAS (with a start date of 1 January 2011):
(4 year terms for Editor and Reviews Editor; 2 year term for Media Editor).
MH concluded this section of his report by thanking the current Editor, Susan Castillo, for her enormous amount of work in enhancing the journal’s reputation and maintaining the high standards of JAS.
In relation to other publications, Dr alison Kelly has produced two fine issues of ASIB (American Studies in Britain) in 2009-10, issues 101 and 102. Alison comes to the end of her editorship of ASIB this year. MH announced that Kaleem Ashraf (Sheffield) will take over as Editor in the early autumn for a 3-year term. MH offered congratulations to Kaleem and many thanks to Alison for her highly professional work as outgoing editor of ASIB.
Felicity Donohoe (Glasgow) has done a very good job in publicizing US Studies Online and in preparing new issues, which are available as an e-zine and also through the BAAS website. MH reminded the membership to look out for the Spring/Summer 2010 issue which will have papers from the BAAS PG Conference held at Northumbria University in November 2009.
MH mentioned the BAAS website and thanked the Secretary for her work in developing the site. He concluded his report by thanking colleagues on the Publications subcommittee for their work in 2009-10 – particularly Susan Castillo and Alison Kelly as they approach the end of their terms of office. MH mentioned specific thanks to the Chair who, he noted, had been an integral part of American Studies in the UK for the past 15 years.
Will Kaufman began his report by seconding MH’s thanks to the Chair, who has been a active member of the Development subcommittee for the past three years of her BAAS tenure. He noted that the Development subcommittee has had two major concerns in the past year: schools liaison and the continued support of conference organisation, particularly with regard to postgraduates. In terms of schools liaison, the subcommittee has been particularly happy to welcome Mr Chris Bates as the new Schools Liaison officer, and—as an important guest of the subcommittee—Dr Bella Adams of the American Studies Resource Centre (ASRC). He thanked David Forster of the ASRC for his assistance in developing an extensive database of schools contacts.
Chris Bates has been proactive in formalising BAAS’s schools liaison agenda, having conducted a survey of the current curriculum for American Studies components, targeting outreach and support. His extensive recommendations have included the development of hubs or regional representatives at school level and the construction of a schools portal on the BAAS website, which is now in progress. Other foci of BAAS’s strategy will be to link the REF and American Studies research to the wider community through our schools liaison, distribute subject expertise to students and teachers and to extend subject opportunities for sixth-form students. BAAS have been active in encouraging an American Studies presence in schools through contact with the postgraduates on the Marshall Scholarships programme. The Development subcommittee will develop our links with American Studies postgraduates for schools visits, particularly in the areas of History, Politics, and English. The aim will be to target sixth formers whilst not ruling out other years. WK drew the AGM’s attention to the ‘What America Means to Me’ project spearheaded by UEA’s Wendy McMahon and her postgraduate students, Catherine Barter and Lucien Giordano. This collection of schoolchildren’s creative prose and artwork was included in the conference packs. The project was partially funded by BAAS and is just the sort of project that BAAS seeks to encourage to get young people thinking about American Studies.
WK noted an increase in the number of BAAS conference funding requests. Given this rise, subcommittee discussions have focused increasingly on the prioritisation of postgraduate provision and opportunities. He added that this will be a topic of extensive debate in the subcommittee and is likely to have an impact on the rubric for future BAAS funding for conference organisation.
WK concluded his report by expressing thanks to the US Embassy for the substantial grants they have provided year on year. Thanks to this support, in the past year BAAS has been able to contribute funds for the organisation of conferences on Culture and the Canada-US Border, Transatlantic Music, the William James Centenary, Postwar American Poetry and Painting, the American Politics Group Colloquium, Contemporary American Literature and Its Contexts, American Literature and Culture after 9/11, Afromodernisms, Scottish-American Studies, Twentieth-Century American History. Decisions are pending on two further conferences—the postgraduate conference, “Understanding America and Its Relationship with the World,” and the Nottingham Poetry Postgraduate Conference, “I Am an American Poet.”
All members of the Development subcommittee were thanked for their contributions during the year.
Ian Bell began his report by thanking the anonymous judges who contributed to the successful business of the Awards subcommittee. He thanked his predecessor Ian Scott (Manchester) for the successful handover of the Awards portfolio and the Secretary for her assistance in streamlining the Awards timeline.
This year, again, BAAS will award substantial number of awards worth in excess of £39,000. He noted that the Eccles Centre had increased Awards funding. IB also reported that there had been some complications with the administration of the teaching assistantships, meaning that this year’s New Hampshire award would be delayed. Finally, IB thanked the US Embassy for their support, as well as the individual members of BAAS who donate funds to support the Short Term Travel Awards.
Libraries and Resources:
Dick Ellis reported that the subcommittee had dealt with six main items over the past year. Firstly, the subcommittee was pleased to assist with composition of a guide for AS students regarding the use of the internet for scholarly research. This is published by INTUTE (while INTUTE has been discontinued, the site is live and still usable). He thanked Dr Bella Adams for writing the guide. The second major item of business was the BLARs journal, Resources in American Studies, which continues through the financial support of the US Embassy and the work of Dr Matthew Shaw. The last issue was disseminated with the Autumn edition of ASIB. BLARs are hoping to start up a significant acquisitions section on the Resources page of the new BAAS website and he asked the membership to contribute to this. Looking ahead to next year’s conference at UCLAN, BLARs will run a session on social networking. DE noted that the subcommittee’s major initiative for the coming year is to audit the position of American Studies in libraries to assess the possibility of sharing resources on a regional basis. BLARs will table a paper on this initiative in the coming year. DE concluded his report by officially welcoming Ms Anna Girvan to the subcommittee and thanking all members of BLARs, especially Jayne Kelly and Matthew Shaw.
Phil Davies reported on the recent EAAS biannual conference in Dublin. He noted that there had been approximately 20 members of UK faculty on programme. He reflected on the high quality of these participants but thought the number of UK-based delegates was possibly a little low. PD noted the two EAAS Book Prize winners: Professor Chris Bigsby and Professor Peter Messent. He also noted that two of the plenary lectures where delivered by UK-based academics, Professor Susan Castillo and Professor Simon Newman.
PD reported that EAAS had encountered serious management issues over the past year. For various bureaucratic reasons Austria had cancelled EAAS’s legal existence. The current chair, Professor Hans-Jürgen Grabbe has worked very hard to re-establish the organisation, encountering many bureaucratic obstacles along the way. The EAAS Vice Chair has resigned due to illness and has been replaced by the Turkish representative, Meldan Tanrisal. Hans- Jürgen Grabbe has redesigned the EAAS website. PD noted that BAAS is the fourth largest national association within EAAS, following Germany, France and Spain. BAAS constitutes 11% of total membership Europe-wide. He added that finances look healthy for the coming year (EAAS made a slight surplus last year), noting the existence of a trust fund which, in time, can be used for subsidies. The EAAS online journal is going very well (41,000 consultations in 2009, three times as many as 2008). He urged the membership to consult the EAAS website and use it as an outlet for future publications. He concluded by noting that the next conference will be in Izmir (Turkey) in 2012 and theme is ‘The Health of the Nation’. EAAS 2014 will be held in Romania.
There was no AOB.
The AGM concluded at 5.15pm.