Minutes of the 276th Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, 13 September 2013 at 1.30pm.
1. Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Bridget Bennett (Vice Chair), Jo Gill (Secretary), Zalfa Feghali, Jonathan Munby, Joe Street, Doug Haynes, Sinéad Moynihan, Gareth Hughes, Michael Collins.
Apologies: Sylvia Ellis, Ian Bell, Jon Ward, Rachel McLennan, Nigel Bowles, Martin Halliwell.
In attendance: Jo Gill
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
3. Matters Arising
(a) Action List Review
The Secretary asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties. All Action List duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.
4. Chair’s Business (SC reporting)
i. Promotions, Prizes and Grants: Achievements of note to BAAS members
Professor Bridget Bennett of Leeds (and Vice-Chair of BAAS) has been awarded c£32 k for an AHRC network titles “Home, Crisis and the Imagination”. She is PI and her colleague Hamilton Carroll is CI.
June 2013 Announcement: Paul Quigley, lecturer in American History at Edinburgh, was recently named the first James I. Robertson, Jr. Professor in Civil War Studies and joins the Department of History at Virginia Tech. (The James I. Robertson Jr. Professorship was created in 2005.) His first book, published in 2011, won three major awards, including the British Association for American Studies Book Prize.
With effect from 1 December 2013 Professor Simon Newman (Glasgow/former Chair of BAAS) has been appointed by the Foreign Secretary as a Commissioner on the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission (with responsibility for the Marshall Scholars programme). Commissioners serve for a term of three years, with the possibility of re-appointment for a second term. The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission is responsible for overseeing the British Marshall Scholarships programme, which was established in 1953 by an Act of Parliament. The scholarship programme enables talented, young American postgraduate students to study at a UK institution and to develop an understanding and appreciation of the UK. Up to forty new scholars are selected each year. The scholars are identified as potential future leaders in the United States and as alumni they make an important contribution to the UK-US bilateral relationship. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office gives the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission an annual grant-in-aid, which is £2 million in 2013-14.”
Congratulations to Dr. Zalfa Fegali (BAAS exec early career rep), awarded her PhD this summer and heading straight into a 2 year post in American literature at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Mike Collins has become Deputy Director of American Studies at Kent. (From September Karen Jones will be Acting Director until John Wills returns from sabbatical in the Summer term when he will take over the Directorship from David Stirrup.)
The embassy has appointed a new Ambassador — Matthew Barzun – a businessman, democratic fundraiser for Obama, and notably a history and literature graduate of Harvard, (related/grandson of Jacques Barzun – famous American historian).
Congrats to Gareth Hughes (schools rep) on his book contract.
Good news regarding the new Sussex Centre for American Studies (SCAS). The centre is up and running and the new Director is Daniel Kane.
AS admissions this year: healthy at Leicester and Sussex. More information needed from other institutions to get a sense of the direction this year.
SC will be taking part in the Learned Societies evaluation project which is about to get underway run by the Academy of Social Sciences. SC will be interviewed and BAAS entered as a case study in this project. This project gives Learned Societies the opportunity to demonstrate the economic and social value of their activities and will generate an evidence base which can be carried forward in case-making activity.
· Announcement by HEFCE re funding SA: From 2014-15 onward, a new regulated fee limit for study abroad students will be set at 15 per cent of the fees chargeable to most other full-time undergraduates: this is equivalent to a fee of up to £1,350 (for students attending institutions where the higher tuition fee amount is permitted) or up to £900 (for those attending institutions where only the basic tuition fee amount is permitted). Tuition fee loans will be available to eligible students to cover these costs.
SC sent a letter to the Provost of UCL, Professor Malcolm Grant, commending the revival of the Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History at the Institute of the Americas (mentioned in last report – awarded to Professor Iwan Morgan). Letter response 14th August saying that he’s been very pleased to establish UCL’s Institute of the Americas under the leadership of Maxine Molyneux and “we will continue to do all that we can to encourage the community of scholars of American history in the UK.”
SC wrote in protest of the disestablishment of IAS to head of HEFCE Sir Alan Langlands and incoming head Madeleine Atkins on 30/07/13. The response from Sir Alan Langlands dated 13 August, noted that the funding to SAS comes in the form of a block grant to University of London and that it is free to use according to its own priorities and while BAAS’s concerns for the demise of NAS were appreciated, “it is not for HEFCE to intervene in the internal management of the University of London.”
· June 12th – Simon Middleton (Sheffield) re: schools project.
· June 13th – Meeting with Neil Jones Head of English of BAHSVIC, Brighton. (re: Schools Development Report 2013 circulated).
· Thursday June 20, 2012: Attended the Embassy for “An Evening with Wajahat Ali” American writer and playwright Wajahat Ali discussed his play “The Domestic Crusaders” exploring the theme of Muslim Americans in the arts. And a performance. Play to be performed for the 1st time in the UK for 3 weeks 25th Sept to 11th Oct in London at the Tara Theatre.
· June 22nd: New Directions in American Studies. University of Kent. Mike Collins. See programme at http://www.kent.ac.uk/amst/new%20directions.pdf
· June 24th Attended the Embassy’s Sutton Trust Reception.
· July 1st and 2nd attended the 2-day conference Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference at the British Library. Report circulated.
July 2nd: PBS film screening of “Viva Las Vegas: THE IMPROBABLE STORY OF DOC POMUS” @ American Embassy. Presentation from Ian Scott (Manchester/former BAAS Chair of Awards) who is currently working with the filmmaker on a documentary.
· July 3: Attended the independence day celebrations at the ambassador’s mansion in Regent’s Park.
July 5th, Golden Hinde Trust, attended the event entitled “Francis Drake in America” on board Golden Hinde II.
· July 25th – visit to BAAS archive. Also meeting with Martin Halliwell. Meeting with Sara Wood and John Fagg to talk about the conference. Ad hoc meeting also with Steve Hewitt, Chair of BACS who is also based at Birmingham.
Open Access: There’s a newly published BIS Report at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-innovation-and-skills/news/on-publ-open-access/ which considers the OA consultation that many of us participated in and thereby revises government’s OA policy in the Finch report –advising away from ‘solid’ Gold and a move further towards green OA. It’s pleasing that the reports SC and MH wrote/co-wrote for BAAS and CCUE/English Association were consulted as evidence. Madeleine Burrows of the Academy of Social Sciences, however, draws attention to the fact that, despite frequent mentions in the evidence supplied to the Committee, the situation of learned societies themselves is not mentioned in the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations. Societies’ needs and the role they play in the research system are left aside.
5. Secretary’s Business (JG reporting)
JG has arranged for the design and printing of the 2014 BAAS and Eccles Centre Awards posters. See Awards (below) for more details.
On BAAS’s behalf, she attended and spoke on study abroad opportunities at a Fulbright / Sutton Trust orientation event for 6th form students selected to participate in summer schools at prestigious US universities.
She has dealt with routine correspondence and has liaised with the Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Web Officer on day-to-day issues.
On 23 Sept she will speak on Sylvia Plath at an event organised by the charity Poets in the City, and supported by the US Embassy.
6. Treasurer’s Business (SE sent a written report)
Bank Accounts (as at 11/9/13)
General Deposit (Saver): £31,669.04
Total = £30688.11
Dollar Account: $3371.33
General Deposit (Saver): £19,883.99
Total = £20,952.62
As at 5 September 2013: 441 fully paid up, 170 of which are PG.
As at September 2012: 255 fully paid up (74 postgraduates)
c. Narrative Report:
i. A surplus of just over £11,000 was received from the University of Exeter in July and the final conference accounts have just been received.
ii. This amount is extremely useful in our efforts to balance the books. However, we are still effectively running with no reserves (as this surplus merely honours pre-existing commitments). Remember we should be have 18 months unrestricted operating costs (approx £51,000 on 2012 figures) so it is still important to minimise such costs.
iii. Gift Aid claim pending for £1863.88 (need to change authorized personnel). SE attempted to do this but HMRC will only recognise the previous Treasurer. Theresa Saxon is chasing this.
iv. CUP – we are now up-to-date on payments (the overpaid bill has been repaid).
v. Given the continuing tightness of the budget, SE recommends the continuing freeze on Development spending. SE intends to do the accounts early January, so we can review this if our financial situation looks stronger.
vi. The 2012 accounts have been uploaded on the Charities Commission website.
vii. The report on last year’s Embassy funds has been submitted and new applications are about to be made.
viii. There have been a small number of unpaid subscriptions on Paypal (recurring payments but not paid).
ix. The Donation button: one £50 donation.
x. Eccles reports for 2012/13 should be in by the end of September and Louise
Cunningham (Keele) will be chasing these so that SE can report back to Phil Davies (Eccles Centre) asap.
SC reminded members of the Easy Fundraising website which enables members to help raise money for BAAS by registering for a small percentage from any on-line purchases to be made payable to our funds. See: www.easyfundraising.org.uk
7. Development Subcommittee (SC reporting)
a. Website: See Publications.
b. Schools: GH reported on progress with the 2013-14 schools events. The following are now confirmed:
11 Feb 2014 – GCSE / A-level History conference (Durham)
7 March 2014 – Politics conference (North)
18 March 2014 – Politics conference (South)
GH has a range of speakers lined up and expects c. 120 students at each event.
JG to liaise with GH with a view to seeing whether BAAS exec members’ WP / Outreach offices can help with promoting the event to local schools.
c. JG and SC have both had informal discussions with the Sutton and Fulbright Trusts with a view to collaborating on future events.
8. Postgraduate Business (JW submitted a written report)
Plans are shaping up well for the 2013 BAAS PG Conference to be held at Nottingham University on 7 and 8 December (a slight change from the 6 – 7 dates previously announced because of problems with room bookings). The CFP has been circulated. Speakers (incl. Bridget Bennett as keynote) have been confirmed.
9. Publications Subcommittee (BB reporting)
BB reported that Kenneth Morgan (representing BRRAM) had been able to attend the morning’s subcom and that this had been most useful. BRRAM (British Records Relating to America on Microfilm) microfilms and digitises a range of resources. 5% of sales are paid over to BAAS. The Exec enquired about BRRAM’s selection and editorial policy and processes. BB to investigate.
b. Edinburgh University Press (EUP)
Emily West attended the morning’s sub-com and presented a well-received paper highlighting her and her co-editor (Martin Halliwell’s) plans for the future of the EUP paperback series.
c. Open Access:
SC circulated a report of a meeting that she had recently attended about Open Access. She noted that discussion seems to have moved away from the “Gold” route and towards a hybrid or Green route. Monographs look likely to be excluded from OA requirements until beyond the next REF (2020). She noted that feedback from BAAS had been taken into consideration in the latest BIS report. She also observed that there may be some positive benefits to the change in journal publishing e.g. via crowd sourcing and similar and that there may be a place for BAAS e.g. in terms of providing grants / financial support for scholars seeking to publish in OA journals.
d. American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
MC reported on discussions with Kal Ashraf (current editor) with regards to changing the format of ASIB from print to online. MC circulated a very useful report from KA about possible ways forward – specifically a move to a different software / typesetting system called “Squarespace” – this would, in effect, be a parallel website to our own. The Exec expressed some concern about the impact of such a system on visits to and the identity of our own website, which has only recently been moved to WordPress. The Exec agreed that we will achieve financial savings by publishing ASIB online rather than in print format; the question is which system to adopt. Given that some of the material published in ASIB (e.g. annual update of cttee details etc) is easily accessible via the BAAS website, there may be a case for refining the purpose of ASIB. This is something we need to discuss in relation to our other Web / Publication / Social Media plans – and more specifically in terms of our need to coordinate the same. SC will discuss further with KA.
e. US Studies Online
BB raised the issue of the future of US Studies Online especially in relation to changes in the BAAS website, in proposed changes to ASIB, noted above, and, more broadly, in relation to the changing nature of academic publishing which means that US Studies Online’s place as a publisher of academic articles may be difficult to sustain. The Exec noted that USSO has the potential to speak directly to and for a strong PG community, and mooted the possibility of USSO becoming a PG area on the revived BAAS website – along with a social media / blogging section etc.
Under this proposal, the BAAS website would be the umbrella / host with ASIB as a quarterly report via the same site, and USSO as a PG-area on the same site.
f. Website (MJC reporting)
See above for future development. For now, MC reported that the site has been successfully moved over to Word Press and that SC and JG have received initial training on how to update areas of the site.
g. BAAS Mailbase
Nothing to report
10. Conferences Subcommittee (SM reporting)
a. Exeter: SM noted that the Exeter surplus (#11,056.46) has been paid over to BAAS.
b. Birmingham (2014): Keynotes are confirmed. John Fagg will take over temporarily as conference organiser during Sara Wood’s Research Leave (Sept 13 to Jan 14). Accomm. is on campus instead of hotels. Fee is £385 incl. for residential delegates with lesser fees for PGs, day-delegates etc. Embassy funding is in the process of being applied for. Northumbria have made arrangements to contribute towards the cost of their hosted reception.
c. Northumbria (2015): A conference coordinator has been appointed. The organisers have reserved 180 rooms in Newcastle hotels at 3 different rates. Gary Younge will be the Northumbria University speaker (Thursday night); this will possibly take place at the Baltic with the Baltic terrace used for the reception for the subsequent (Belfast) conference. Eccles and JAS are deciding on their speakers.
d. Belfast (2016): As per the terms of the Queen’s University, Belfast, bid, the conference will take place from the Thurs pm to Sat evening when it will close with the Awards Banquet.
e. 2017: Several possibilities are under discussion for 2017 including a joint bid from Kent & Canterbury Christchurch (MC and ZF are liaising) or from Sussex. Difficulties remain with the latter in that the Sussex term dates preclude an Easter conference. MC and ZF were asked to report back as soon as possible on whether they would like to submit a formal proposal so that others e.g. Sussex might, if necessary, step in.
f. 2018: Discussions continue re. a joint UCL / KCL and BAAS / EAAS conference. This would be a four-day event; questions were raised about: arrangements for keynotes; dates; funding; theme; structure (i.e. workshops or panels and national representation on same as per EAAS’s usual provisions). SM will continue to discuss with the relevant parties.
11. Awards Subcommittee (JG reporting)
a. Posters for the 2014 awards (2 designs) have been printed and will be circulated this week by Louise Cunningham (Keele) to all American Studies and related departments. More copies are available from JG on request. JG is updating the Awards section of the website with a view to launching the Awards by the end of Sept online, via Twitter and through the distribution of the posters. JG requested that all Exec members should spread the word in order to ensure a strong field for these prizes. She particularly asked members to draw the attention of schools in their area to the Ambassador’s Essay Prize and to prompt strong final-year students to consider the GTA scheme. JG will liaise with the Fulbright / Sutton Trust about circulating Ambassador’s Award information to the school students with whom they are in contact. SE has applied to the Embassy for funding to support the Ambassador’s and other awards.
b. IB will be in touch with Exec members in due course re. the constitution of various judging panels.
c. DH reported that he is liaising with GTA coordinators at the Universities of Virginia and Mississippi in order to firm up the details of the 2014 GTA scheme.
12. BAAS Libraries and Resources Sub-Committee (MC reporting):
MC reported on recent discussions at BLARS with respect to Open Access and the possible use of Symplectic as a way of linking institutional repositories with the BAAS website.
The BLARS sessions at the Birmingham (2014) and Northumbria (2015) conferences will be on the themes of “Green Libraries” and “Endangered Archives” respectively.
BLARS is exploring ways of generating income, e.g. through advertising from publishers and others on their website.
13. EAAS (MH submitted a written report):
The CFP for the 2014 conference at The Hague has been circulated via the website and mailing list. BAAS regrets that in the current financial climate it is unlikely that it will be able to offer financial support to postgrads planning to attend the EAAS conference, although this will be kept under review.
14. Any Other Business
UKCASA / Academy of Social Sciences
The meeting noted that with Bridget Bennett’s election as BAAS Vice-Chair and as Chair of the Publications Sub-Com, a new BAAS representative is needed for UKCASA. Sinead Moynihan has nominated, with Doug Haynes as her substitute when required. JG will inform UKCASA.
Attendance at next meeting
In a change to our usual practice (see minutes 275), Exec Officers (SC, JG, SE, BB) and Sub-Com Chairs (IB, SM) only will attend the next BAAS Exec Meeting while Sub-Coms will meet on the morning of the April Exec (Birmingham Thurs 10 April 2014). Sub-Com Chairs are asked to liaise with their members in advance of the next Exec Meeting so that their views can be garnered.
15. Date of next meeting
The next meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies will be held at the University of Nottingham on Sat 7 December 2013 (this is a change to the original proposed date and venue of Sat 11 Jan 2014 at Northumbria; the Conferences Sub-Com only will meet at Northumbria on this date).
Dr. Jo Gill / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com / Office Phone: (01392) 264256