British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 285th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at King’s College London on Friday 17 June 2016 at 1.00 pm.
- Present: Brian Ward (Chair), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Cara Rodway (Treasurer), Joe Street, Uta Balbier, Ben Offiler, Martin Halliwell, Kate Dossett, Katerina Webb-Bourne, Paul Williams, Nick Witham (on behalf of JAS editors). Carole Holden joined part of the meeting.
Apologies: Simon Hall, Katie McGettigan, Emma Long, David Brown, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Bevan Sewell.
In attendance: Jenny Terry.
- Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
- Matters Arising
- Review of Action List
The Chair asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties. Items will be addressed under the relevant section below.
- Chair’s Business (BW reporting)
(a) Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence (April 2016 – June 2016)
- Since the AGM there has been a handover from SC to BW, including changes of details with banks, our trading arm, BAAS paperbacks, other organizations etc. Subcommittee membership for 2016-17 is also now in place. BW thanked SC, CR and JT for shepherding him through this phase of his tenure.
- On 18 April 2016 SC, CR, JT and UB attended a productive meeting at the US Embassy in London about running the new Embassy grants programme and establishing guidelines. Shortly after the annual BAAS conference we were able to appoint Jo Gill and Carole Holden to share the Managing Director role. In the past few months we have also dealt with a number of applications submitted to the Embassy’s previous programme and subsequently passed on to us. BW recorded special thanks to JG and CH for leading on this and for drafting a new call for applications and a timetable for administering the awards. Our bid had budgeted for additional administrative support and we have recently been able to appoint Katie Edwards at Keele University to assist with the Embassy programme. Louise Cunningham is also giving oversight here and, with the executive’s approval, we will increase LC’s remuneration in view of her expanding work and remit. Agreed.
- On 22 April 2016 BW wrote to the Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Prof. Patrick Johnston, and other administrators at QUB to congratulate Philip McGowan on the success of the 2016 joint IAAS/BAAS conference. Patrick Johnston responded with thanks on 4 May.
- On 16 May 2016 BW attended the 21st Douglas W. Bryant Lecture (by Martin Dickson on Populism and the Presidency) at the Eccles Centre/British Library. This provided an opportunity to meet with Phil Davies and Fran Fuentes (Eccles Centre) and Mercedes Aguirre (North America Collections) about BAAS-related initiatives and resources, including co-operation on schools and outreach activities and British Library Boston Spa possibilities. Mercedes Aguirre has agreed to take on the role of BAAS Library and Resources Representative and will join the Development subcommittee.
- BW had been unable to attend the last Arts and Humanities Alliance meeting on 22 April 2016.
- UB will represent BAAS at the UKCASA AGM on 29 June 2016.
- BW is planning a meeting with representatives of other bodies such as BrANCH; APG; HOTCUS, etc. to discuss their relationships with BAAS. It might also be helpful to think about how BAAS functions in relation to other large organizations such as the Fulbright, the US Embassy etc.
(b) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- Ian Scott (University of Manchester) has been appointed a Visiting Distinguished Professor for 2016-17 at Washington State University.
- Philip McGowan has been appointed President of the EAAS.
- Emily West (University of Reading) and Simon Hall (University of Leeds) have been promoted to Chairs from September 2016.
(c) After attending in Belfast, Alexander Street Press have been in touch about
future BAAS conferences and eliciting further response, use or activity to make
their attendance worthwhile. Further communication will follow in the run up to
(d) The organizers of the large-scale conference ‘English: Shared Futures’ have
been in touch to see if BAAS would like to be represented via a dedicated
panel. The conference will be held in Newcastle, 5-7 July 2017, and it is hoped
will develop into a more regular event in the style of the MLA. Other
associations in the discipline will be participating. The conference will be linked
into other Civil Rights and Martin Luther King anniversary events in Newcastle
in 2017 and BW will be giving a plenary.
Agreed Nicole King and JT will devise a theme and co-ordinate a newsletter
call for a BAAS panel.
- Secretary’s Business (JT Reporting)
(a) Co-options and confirmation of Vice-Chair
The executive confirmed Uta Balbier as Vice-Chair for 2016-17 and thanked her for her willingness to fulfill this role.
Nicole King (University of Reading) and Martin Dines (Kingston University London) were also thanked for their willingness to serve as co-opted members of the executive this year and their co-option was confirmed. NK will join Development and Education, and MD will join Conferences.
Mercedes Aguirre is also welcomed onto the Development and Education Subcommittee as Library and Resources Representative. Our thanks to Matt Shaw, who has stepped down from this role, were noted.
Nick Witham and Uta Balbier will between them represent the joint London 2018 conference on the Conferences subcommittee.
(b) Charitable Incorporated Organisation Registration
There has been some delay with this but things are in place for progress with the paperwork and asset reporting and transfer during the summer. The signatures of trustees (that’s elected executive members) will be collected by post.
(c) BAAS Archive
JT visited the BAAS archive at the University of Birmingham on 13 June 2016. She met with archivist Mark Eccleston, who was deputizing for Susan Worrall, and deposited material from outgoing Chair SC and items collated by the Secretary. Updating of the Birmingham library catalogue was also discussed.
(d) Michelle Green delivered BAAS website training to BW, JT, UB and BO earlier in the day.
- Treasurer’s Business (CR reporting)
(a) Bank Accounts (as at 16 June 2016)
BAAS Publications Ltd £69,481.31
(b) Membership Figures (provided by LC)
Honorary membership – 3
Schools membership (PS) – 12
Individual membership – 288 (129 online JAS, 159 with full JAS)
PG membership – 270 (209 online JAS, 61 with full JAS)
Retired (PR) – 29 (19 online JAS, 10 with full JAS)
Unwaged (PU) – 9 (7 online JAS, 2 with full JAS)
Members on fully paid sheet (total 611)
(c) Narrative report
CR is currently working on our Gift Aid position. LC is helping us make a claim for the past four years in terms of membership fees. KM is helping CR to ensure that it’s easy for new and existing members to make the Gift Aid declaration via the website.
As discussed at previous meetings, CR is looking into how we make sure that the correct tax and NI is paid on the regular payments we make to colleagues (for JAS work, website work, admin support etc.). She is in discussions with our accountant about the possibility of creating a payroll.
Following advice from our accountant, CR is also investigating some initial short term investments of BAAS funds. The Charities Aid Foundation may also be able to advise on this.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (KD reporting)
(a) Equality issues
The subcommittee had discussed various matters related to our commitment to give fresh attention and emphasis to equality and diversity. We need to think about BAAS’s wider work in relation to equalities issues, but also our own committee and subcommittee processes.
Development and Education will draft a statement to be proposed as an addition to the BAAS constitution at the next AGM. Text on equality and diversity should also be added to Awards information and BAAS funding application forms.
As discussed in previous meetings, an official equalities role on the executive will help to take this work forward and ensure it is sustained. Formalisation of this role could also be part of the constitutional amendment to be voted on at the next AGM. It may be helpful to consult with other associations and professional bodies about what equalities work they are doing (for example the Arts and Humanities Alliance).
The subcommittee had discussed the planned American Studies survey in draft. This will help to gain a sense of equalities issues among the membership and in the HE sector as well as other ‘state of the field’ issues. Plans are developing for how and when to administer the survey.
(c) Public Engagement Award
KD and the subcommittee proposed a new award focused on public engagement and collaboration. This will be aimed at Early Career and Postgraduate researchers. The executive approved an annual budget of £750 for the award. Award criteria will be drawn up and will include something like a letter of support from the project partner(s).
Other matters discussed had been the position of Schools Representative (Mike Simpson has not been able to attend any meetings since agreeing to take on the role in summer 2015). We should develop a role description that lays out our Schools vision and expectations of the representative.
Also plans are still in development to have a postdoctoral research award of some kind for work to be done on the BAAS Archive. We need to decide what form the work and the post will take. Mark Eccleston is a helpful point of contact at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham. In the past a PhD student, Ali Fisher, supervised by Scott Lucas completed work on the archive’s material relating to the early days of American Studies.
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
A report had been received from CMB and BS. Submissions to JAS are growing and have increased significantly since they took over as joint editors. They are conscious of, and keen to find ways to address, gender imbalance in submission and publication figures. The editorial team has some ideas for initiatives, including a profile raising annual prize for the best female-authored JAS essay. CMB and BS invite further suggestions from the BAAS executive and will also solicit the views and ideas of the editorial board (on which there is now parity in terms of gender representation).
In discussion, special themed issues came up as a way to encourage more submissions from underrepresented groups. The introduction of an annual prize might have some effect but it is also important to look at the issues underlying the imbalance; the BAAS survey might be of assistance in this. It could be productive to consult with other publication venues such as 49th Parallel and USSO about their statistics.
Under Publication business, the appointment to the JAS editorial board was confirmed of Eithne Quinn (Manchester University), Rebecca Schreiber (University of New Mexico) and Mark Smith (University of South Carolina).
Lauren Mottle has now replaced Zalfa Feghali as Editorial Assistant.
JS and the subcom will be reviewing JAS Editor payments, one aspect of our recognition of the invaluable work of the joint Editors.
(b) EUP/BAAS Paperbacks
MH circulated sample book covers for the new EUP/BAAS paperback series design and invited feedback. The covers were positively received.
Jade Tullett and Todd Carter have taken over the editorship of USSO. BO, on behalf of the executive, thanked them for all of their great work already. Jade had represented USSO at the earlier Publications subcommittee.
- Conference Subcommittee (PW reporting)
(a) Queen’s University Belfast
A report by Philip McGowan on the Belfast conference has featured in ASIB. He hopes to have the conference finances finalised soon.
(b) Canterbury Christ Church
Plans for the next conference are developing well. Lydia Plath had sought the subcommittee’s views on the issue of the banquet venue; one option is to remain on campus and another, more expensive, is to book the cathedral. Typically one evening of the BAAS conference is spent off campus but, at the same time, we don’t want the cost of the dinner to become prohibitive for postgraduate delegates without funding support. Looking into civic sponsorship could open up options here.
We need to follow up with the US Embassy about how they would like us to handle our application for funding for the annual conference this year. It would be good to clarify this process in light of the funding programme we are now administering for them.
Nick Witham had sent a report on plans for London 2018. The organisers are meeting regularly, including MH and others with Katharina Donn, the new USSO European Relations Assistant Editor, earlier the same day. The team are currently looking at accommodation issues and where to hold the receptions.
PW will shortly advertise for bids to host the conference in 2020.
(d) Postgraduate Conference (KWB reporting)
The handover from Rachael Alexander to KWB as Postgraduate Representative has gone smoothly. KWB has been working closely with the Leeds conference organizers and the conference is scheduled for 19 November 2016 with a theme of ‘American Identity and Borderlands’.
The executive reaffirmed its commitment to support the annual Postgraduate Conference, with the funding typically being £500. Organisers should submit a budget to the Conferences subcommittee Chair and BAAS Officers for oversight.
- Awards Subcommittee (UB reporting)
(a) 2016 Awards
The Awards subcommittee had not met this time but UB brought forward and reported on several items. There had been positive feedback on the awards ceremony format in Belfast this year and on the booklet listing prize winners. A pdf version of the booklet for even wider circulation would be good in future. Awards recipients are now up on the BAAS website.
(b) Ambassador Awards
The US Embassy is no longer able to support the Ambassador awards and we must decide how to respond to this gap before it’s time to advertise the 2017 awards. One option is that BAAS provides funding in the same pattern as the previous awards (Postgraduate, Undergraduate and School). In any decision we need to factor in the hidden cost of contributing to the travel expenses of winners who attend the ceremony as well as covering the award amounts themselves.
The executive agreed to fund the School and Undergraduate awards at £250 and £500 respectively (the same level as the Ambassador Awards). It decided against funding an award in place of the Ambassador Postgraduate one at this stage as BAAS already funds its own Postgraduate prize and we have also just committed to the new Public Engagement and Collaboration award for Early Career and Postgraduate researchers (see Development above).
We need to renew our efforts to publicise all our awards widely. UB is preparing the copy for the 2017 Awards poster. A postcard could also help spread the word, for example, at small conferences we have funded and at Open Days and Schools events.
(c) Embassy Grants Programme (Carole Holden in attendance)
Carole Holden reported that she and Jo Gill have drafted an application form, including the Embassy expenses guidelines and our criteria for the scheme ‘Promoting a Better Understanding of American Studies in the UK’. This will be circulated to the executive for input before wider release. The first call for applications will go out later in June via the BAAS newsletter, USSO etc. and the two deadlines this year are 15 September and 13 January. CH and JG have been liaising with the Embassy point of contact Tim Gerhardson, and have also started working with Katie Edwards at Keele, who is providing admin support and will help with collating applications and reports. BW thanked CH and JG for all their work on this programme already.
- EAAS (MH reporting)
The 2016 EAAS conference in Constanta had gone well. The dates for London 2018 after careful deliberation have been agreed as 4-7 April. A special roundtable on the topic of 1968 will also be tied into the relaunch of the BAAS / EUP paperback series. The 2018 conference offers the opportunity to build further links with the US American Studies Association (both MH and NK will attend the ASA conference in Denver in November 2016).
- Any Other Business
- Date of next meeting: Friday 18 November 2016 at the University of Leeds.
Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone: 01913 342570