British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 278th Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Birmingham, Thursday 10 April 2014 at 12.30pm.
1. Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Bridget Bennett (Vice Chair), Jo Gill (Secretary), Zalfa Feghali, Jonathan Munby, Jon Ward, Doug Haynes, Sinéad Moynihan, Ian Bell, Michael Collins, Gareth Hughes, Rachael McLennan, Martin Halliwell, Joe Street.
Apologies: Nigel Bowles, Sara Wood, Sylvia Ellis (Treasurer).
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)
a. Promotions, Prizes and Grants: Achievements of note to BAAS members
• Professor Martin Halliwell has become the first holder of the newly-established ‘John Maynard Keynes Fellowship in US Studies’ at University College London’s Institute of the Americas. Professor Halliwell, of the University of Leicester’s School of English and the Centre for American Studies, will undertake a new research project entitled Voices of Health and Illness: Medicine, Psychiatry, and American Culture,1970–2000 during his tenure as John Maynard Keynes Fellow. He will carry out the research while working in his newly-appointed role as Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Leicester.
• In February Dr. Henry Knight, of Northumbria University won the Florida Book Award in the category of ‘Nonfiction’ for his book Tropic of Hopes: California, Florida and the Selling of American Paradise, 1869-1929.
• Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier has been awarded a Visiting Fellowship at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery at Yale University (one month of March 2014)
• And Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier’s book Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination has just been announced as a joint winner of the EAAS ASN Book Prize.
• Professor Robert Cook, University of Sussex: a one-year BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship for his project: Contested Realm: Civil War Memory in the United States Since 1865
• Dr. Michael Jonik, University of Sussex, has also been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship for his project “Anarchists, Scientists, Lovers, and Con-men: Risk in the 19th-Century Novel”.
• Dr Jonathan Bell, historian of post-World War II US political liberalism, author of The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (Columbia University Press, 2004) and California Crucible: The Forging of American Liberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), currently of Reading University, has just been appointed the next director of the UCL Institute of the Americas in succession to Professor Maxine Moline. He takes up post on Sept 1 and will be appointed as both Director of UCL-IA and Professor.
• Dr. Paul Williams has been awarded an AHRC grant of £144k for his project “Reframing the Graphic Novel: Long form adult comic narratives in North America and the UK – 1973-82”.
• Dr Simon Middleton (Sheffield) has been awarded a British Academy research fellowship for his project “The Price of the People: Money and Power”
• See UCL-IA above.
• Building on from Raphael Hoermann’s appointment as a result of a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development Grant, UCLAN has committed to funding an Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) run from the school of Language, Literature and International Studies with significant input from Art and Design. The co-directors will be Alan Rice and acclaimed Black British artist Professor Lubaina Himid. They are launching the new institute with a reading from novelist, essayist and screenwriter Caryl Phillips joined by partners such as the International Slavery Museum, Preston Black History Group, Manchester Galleries, Lancashire Museums and Tate. They will showcase work from the centre at the event including a slide show from Tate Britain curator and IBAR PhD candidate Zoe Whitley’s New York exhibit on Afro-Futurism.
ii. Correspondence and Meetings
• Open Access progress: from Peter Mandler: “HEFCE will be releasing its Open Access policy for the REF, on Monday. It represents in my view a significant improvement, not only on RCUK’s policy, but also on the draft consultation. I think we owe ourselves a collective pat on the back for a successful lobbying effort.”
• Regular email correspondence, phone calls etc regarding BAAS administration, awards and issues in the run-up to the conference.
• Ongoing and regular consultation and correspondence with Cambridge University Press and our consultants Bertoli-Mitchell over negotiations regarding the new partnership agreement.
b. Meetings and activities
• QAA English Benchmark review committee. Sue Currell has taken part in this review panel chaired by Professor Martin Halliwell.
• REF 2020 : HEFCE announced April 2014 that there will be Independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment. David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, has asked HEFCE to review the role of metrics in research assessment and management. James Wilsdon, Professor of Science and Democracy at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, will chair the review, supported by an independent steering group drawn from higher education institutions, research funders and national academies. A formal invitation to submit evidence will be issued shortly. To read this item in full visit: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2014/news86882.html
5. Secretary’s Business (JG reporting)
a. JG has continued to liaise with Louise Cunningham (Awards Administrator) and Ian Bell (Awards Sub-Com Chair) with regard to the Awards process and attendance at the Awards banquet. She was on the interview panel for the GTA scheme.
b. She has dealt with routine correspondence and has liaised with the Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Web Officer on day-to-day issues.
c. She has liaised with the Fulbright Commission / Sutton Trust with regard to a Study Abroad event in April 2014 at which she will speak on behalf of BAAS.
d. She has written to all members to notify them of the change of format for ASIB (print to online).
6. Treasurer’s Business (SE sent a written report)
a. Bank Accounts (as at 9/4/14)
General Deposit: £27,554.86
Total = £29,606.44
Dollar Account: $3371.33
General Deposit: £18963.82
Total = £21585.95
Dollar Account: $3371.33
A Gift Aid rebate of £1800 has been received. There was also a small surplus (£259) received from the Schools’ History conference (Durham). The BAAS Conference at Exeter (2013) made a welcome surplus which has helped replenish the BAAS coffers. Thanks to the Exeter conference organisers for this.
b. Membership Figures (RMcL reporting):
April 2014 membership: 527 fully paid up (228 PG) / 538 including not fully paid up (194 PG)
April 2013 Membership: 428 fully paid up (163 PG)
The Exec noted that this is a significant increase on the past two years (up c. 200 members from 2012). This may partly be a consequence of the greater targeting of our marketing (e.g. via Membership Leaflets sent to conferences that we have financially supported via Development, or promoted via our Website), and partly a result of clarifying our eligibility criteria for Awards.
MH noted that BAAS’s annual subscription to EAAS is calculated by membership numbers and so our increased membership may have the unintended consequence of increasing our costs!
7. Development Subcommittee (ZF reporting)
a. Financial Support for Conferences and other Events:
ZF began by raising questions about how / when / in what form to reinstate the BAAS Conference Support process (i.e. the facility by which conference and event organisers can apply to BAAS for financial support). The Development Sub-Com had discussed the matter of priorities and had favoured prioritising post-graduate participation and travel. The Sub-Com also stressed the importance of establishing clear guidelines for advance applications and agreed not to support retrospective applications. As ZF noted, without a clear budget for this area of BAAS’s work, it is difficult to agree a sustainable course of action. While budgetary matters remain pending, it was proposed and agreed to defer any further discussion to the next BAAS meeting (June 2014).
ACTION: ZF and Development
b. Administrative Support:
The Exec Meeting noted the pressures on the Officers, Sub-Com Chairs and on other Exec Members at particular times. The Meeting would like, finances permitting, to delegate some routine administrative matters (e.g. membership, some awards matters, some schools matters etc) to a paid administrative assistant. SC will pursue and will report back at the next (June) meeting.
GH reported on this year’s very successful schools’ events (i) the A-Level History conference held at Durham School in Feb. This attracted 108 pupils from some 7 or 8 schools, and (ii) the A-Level Govt & Politics Conference held at Wakefield School in March. This attracted some 90 students. In both cases, BAAS thanks the organisers and members of BAAS’s community who contributed talks and the US Embassy who provided funding for speakers.
Unfortunately, the planned conference in the South (Marlborough College) did not take place due to low recruitment; GH noted that this may be a result of competition from other events in the region.
GH also spoke at a Schools’ History conference at the University of Birmingham.
SC thanked GH for his contribution during his term of office. SC reported that she is pursuing possible replacements for GH from a small team of teachers covering History, Govt & Politics, and Literature; the Exec hopes to confirm ongoing arrangements by June. SC also noted that our improved Web presence may provide opportunities to share resources with schools.
8. PG Business (JW reporting)
a. PG Conference:
JW reported that the next BAAS PG Conference will take place at the University of Sussex on 15 November 2014. The theme is Protest, Dissent, Resistance. The conference is in its planning stages and JW will be meeting with the organisers and his successor as PG rep. in order to ensure a smooth handover.
ACTION: JW / RA
The new US Studies Online (USSO) Editors (Michelle Green and Ben Offiler) have been studying the responses to a survey circulated to delegates at the last BAAS PG Conference and will be making changes to USSO as appropriate.
c. PG Awards:
JG raised an issue that had been discussed in the Awards Sub-Com – the relatively low number of applications this year for the BAAS PG Essay Prize. JG urged Exec members to spread the word and to encourage PGs to submit essays for this prestigious award. JW noted that the USSO editors have started to compile an email list of PGs in American Studies and History; this will prove a useful resource in promoting this and other prizes (e.g. Ambassador’s PG prize) in future.
ACTION: JG and Awards
d. Early Career (ZF reporting)
ZF noted that there are plans to offer career development workshops at the next BAAS PG conference for PGs and Early Career Academics. She asked for volunteers from the Exec to participate in these.
ACTION: ZF and all.
9. Publications Sub-Com (BB reporting)
BB reported on Ken Morgan’s behalf. The work of BRRAM in recording materials, specifically those relating to plantations, continues well. BB urged Exec members to peruse and refer colleagues / students to this resource.
b. EUP Paperback Series:
Now under the editorship of Martin Halliwell (Leicester) and Emily West (Reading), the Paperback Series is proceeding well with 2 new titles under contract, 2 with positive reports from readers, and 2 out for review.
Continuing under the editorship of Kal Ashraf, ASIB is now produced in on-line format, starting with the Spring 2014 issue. This saves us money in printing and postage costs and ensures that the content is widely accessible. BB thanked Kal for his hard work and success in managing this transition. In future, the editor hopes to make ASIB available via a link on the Website, rather than as a PDF attachment.
With its revised remit as a PG / Early Career space, USSO now comes under the Development Sub-Com. See above.
f. Journal of American Studies (JAS):
BB recorded the appointment of two new members of the editorial board: Gary Gerstle and George Lewis, with one further appointment to be finalised. Richard Crockatt is retiring from the board and so it will be necessary to start the process of finding his replacement.
ACTION: BB and Publications
The Publications Sub-Com had received a positive report on the progress of JAS from the editor, Scott Lucas. Two special issues are in the pipeline: one on emancipation (Spring 2015) and one on speculation (Fall 2015). BB offered BAAS’s thanks to Scott for his excellent work on the Journal. She further reminded Exec members that as we approach the end of Scott’s term of office (Jan 2015), we are in the process of finding a new editor.
10. Conferences Sub-Com (SM reporting)
a. Northumbria 2015:
JS (Conference Organiser) circulated copies of the Northumbria poster. Copies are also available in the conference packs. Accommodation at Northumbria will be at hotels in the city near to the conference venue. The banquet venue has been booked, as have the keynotes, Gary Younge, Sarah Churchwell, and Dana Nelson. JS has invited several editors from US Academic Publishers to offer a workshop / masterclass. There may also be a disco . . .
b. Belfast 2016:
SM reported that plans are progressing. This will be a 3-day conference, starting on the Thursday and closing with the Awards Banquet on the Saturday evening. Philip McGowan, the Conference Organiser, will be invited to attend the BAAS Conferences Sub-Com from June 2014.
c. Canterbury Christ Church College 2017:
The Sub-Com had discussed a bid for the 2017 conference from Canterbury Christ Church College (Nick Witham and Zalfa Feghali). The bid was recommended to the Exec, and approved. This will be a three-day (two night) conference.
d. London (joint conference with EAAS) 2018:
SM has discussed matters arising at the last BAAS Exec with Clare Birchall and Uta Balbier. MH (BAAS’s representative to EAAS) noted that EAAS is in the process of moving from its traditional use of themes for each of its conferences and from its usual workshop format. Both of these changes will aid the synthesis of the two conferences in 2018.
e. SC noted that Sara Wood (Birmingham Conference Organiser) has been drafting some useful handover notes / FAQs for future organisers; SW will hand these over to SM for dissemination.
11. Awards Sub-Com (IB reporting)
IB noted that entries for most Awards have risen since last year – in some cases quite substantially. However, there were slight dips for the BAAS Book Prize, and for the BAAS PG Essay Prize. The former tends to rise and fall over time, and according to publishing / REF calendars, etc, and thus isn’t too much cause for concern. However, the BAAS PG Essay Prize ought to attract a much larger field – esp. considering that the PG membership of BAAS now stands at c. 200. IB urged members of the Exec to disseminate details of this and other prizes to colleagues, and to ensure that they nominate their own promising students. JG noted that the unwieldiness of the current membership spreadsheet makes it difficult to target particular members / categories; if finances permit, an overhaul of the membership database was recommended as this will allow us to promote particular events and opportunities more effectively.
IB announced, with regret, that this year’s MA GTA Studentship at Virginia is to be the last. This is because of change of personnel and financial constraints at the host institution. IB thanked DH for his tireless work in ensuring that the scheme could continue at least for this final year. The Exec discussed the value (to BAAS, to the host institution and to individual students) of the GTA schemes but noted that this needed to be balanced against the resources required to administer them. The Exec is minded to investigate alternative partners to replace Virginia (and to join a list that comprises New Hampshire, Wyoming and Mississippi). Oregon (Mark Whalan), Louisiana State (Michael Bibler), Arkansaw (John Kirk), NYU (Peter Nicholls) and Long Beach (Hugh Wilford) were mooted as possibilities; MH has discussed the former with MW on a recent visit to Oregon. The Exec agreed that those with contacts at the above might make informal enquiries with a view to further discussion at the next Exec meeting (June).
SC suggested that Kal Ashraf might approach previous GTA winners with a view to posting information about their experience and subsequent careers to the web. This might also be shared with USSO.
ACTION: MH, DH, KA, JG and all
c. Honorary Fellowships:
The Honorary Fellowships have been offered annually for 6 years now and have, in each case, been awarded to outstanding members of the American Studies community (this year’s Fellowship, awarded to Iwan Morgan, continues this trend). The Exec discussed the pros and cons of continuing to offer this Fellowship on a year-in, year-out basis vs. awarding it only periodically (e.g. once every 3 or 5 years). On balance, the Exec favours a slight change to the procedure whereby the Honorary Fellowship will be offered only in years when the Exec at its November / December meeting (subsequent to consideration and recommendation by the Awards sub-com) has identified a particularly strong candidate. This allows us to offer the Fellowship each year if appropriate but not to offer it in years when sufficiently distinguished candidates are not apparent. The invitation to members of BAAS to annually nominate candidates will be removed from the website.
d. UCL / BAAS Fellowship:
This scheme is in the second year of operation; the Fellowships are non-stipendiary. However, there are hidden costs to the host institution who have kindly met these for this year. Subject to finances, BAAS would like to reciprocate in future years but the arrangements do need further discussion. SC will liaise with UCL and will report back in June. Pending the outcome of these discussions, the UCL /BAAS Fellowships will not be advertised for 2015-16.
12. BLARS (MC reporting)
a. BLARS at the BAAS Conference:
BLARS has invited three speakers for the opening session of the BAAS conference 2014: Tom Cutterham, Caroline Edwards and Chris Gilson. The theme is social media (blogging and various apps) in research. The theme for the BLARS session at the 2015 conference will be the preservation of resources in the context of conflict.
b. BLARS membership:
Christine Anderson (Senate House) has joined BLARS and has kindly offered Senate House as a venue for future meetings. Jayne Kelly (BLARS secretary) is moving to a new post at Cambridge University and thus is standing down, having fulfilled the BLARS role for 10 years. The Exec thanked her for her hard work and wished her well in her new post. Jane Rawson (Bodleian) will take over as BLARS secretary. MC will continue in his role as BLARS Chair. The Exec approved this course of action.
13. EAAS (MH reporting)
See 10d for a report on Conference Arrangements. MH further reported on the success of the recent EAAS Conference in The Hague. The next EAAS conference (2016) will be held in Bucharest.
15. Date of next meeting
The next meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies will be held in London on 9 July 2014 at the Institute of the Americas, UCL. Sub-Coms will commence at 11.30.
Outgoing Secretary: Dr. Jo Gill / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com / Office Phone: (01392) 264256
Incoming Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone: 01913 342570