British Association for American Studies
Annual General Meeting 2018
The 2018 AGM of BAAS was held on Thursday 5 April at Kings College London at 2.30 pm. The meeting was quorate throughout. [66 in attendance]
The minutes of the 2017 AGM (Canterbury Christ Church) were circulated and approved. [Joe Street proposed; Katie McGettigan seconded]
Candidate statements have been available on the website as well as on display at the conference. In line with the constitution adopted in 2016, this year the process had been overseen by two independent election scrutineers as well as the Secretary. Safeguards were in place to minimise the possibility of members double voting.
Treasurer Dr Ben Offiler (to 2021)
Postgraduate Representative Ms Olivia Wright (to 2020) Elected unopposed.
Committee Dr Christopher Parkes (to 2021) All elected unopposed.
Dr Michael Collins (to 2021)
Dr Laura MacDonald (to 2021)
Sylvia Ellis thanked Joe Street for his assistance with the vote count and Theresa Saxon and George Lewis for their work as scrutineers.
- Chair’s Report (Brian Ward reporting)
As usual I want to start with a word of thanks to all members of the Executive, elected and co-opted, for their efforts on behalf of the Association this year. In particular, I am grateful to Cara Rodway and Sylvia Ellis for their excellent work as treasurer and secretary respectively, and to Kate Dossett who served as vice chair of the Association this year, as well as being Chair of the Development and Education sub-committee. I’d also like to add a special word of appreciation to Paul Williams as Chair of the Conferences sub-committee, who has been dealing with the unique challenges posed by the scale and complexity of EBAAS as well as helping us to plan for the future. And finally, special thanks to all those stepping down from the Exec at this time – although some may well reappear once the election results are in: Simon Hall, Martin Halliwell, Althea Legal-Miller, Laura McDonald, Katie McGettigan, Cara, and Katerina Webb-Bourne,
You’ll hear from the sub-committee chairs in due course as they report on their portfolios, so I’ll try to keep this fairly brief and just flag some highlights of the Association’s year.
Equality and Diversity
As you probably know, last year members voted to make a commitment to E&D part of our new constitution. E&D remains a standing item on every sub-committee in the BAAS Executive, and we no longer accept all-male panel proposals for our annual Conference. We also co-opted Althea Legal-Miller to join the Exec and she’s worked with the Development and Education sub-committee on E&D issues. The Exec also attended a workshop on Trans sensitivity.
These are all useful and encouraging developments, and we have taken important steps to make E&D part of our core values and to weave good E&D practices into the fabric of how BAAS operates.
Still, I want to stress that there is no room for complacency here; as an Association we need to keep working towards doing more and doing better on the E&D front.
This is clear in some of the responses to the BAAS Membership survey, the data from which we are still processing, but which you’ll hear more about shortly. While there are many positives to be taken from the survey, it reinforces my own sense that we need to be proactive in guarding against all manner of latent and overt biases in the Association’s work and to build on and extend a culture of respect and inclusivity.
As part of this diversification agenda, we are looking at plans to extend support to allow attendance at the annual Conference by international scholars from non-EAAS countries with a GDP of less than $30k per capita, through an International Hardship Fund scheme.
We also trial-ed supporting some childcare provisions to enable members with caring responsibilities to attend BAAS events and will do more of that in the future.
PGR and ECR Support
Closer to home, as part of the ongoing effort to try to ensure that as many members of BAAS as possible can access, enjoy and participate in the work of the Association and the projects it supports, this year we have set aside more financial support for PGRs and ECRs than ever before.
Obviously, our ability to do this is not infinite. Still, we offer more financial support to the annual BAAS PGR conference; we have modest hardship funds to defray the costs of attendance at most of the Conferences we sponsor, or co-sponsor; this annual Conference is deeply discounted for PGRs and the Association is pleased to have made the Call Mr. Robeson performance free for PGRs as well as underwriting the Wednesday night ‘Ice-Breaker’ event for ECRs & PGRs at the Thirsty Bear organized by our outgoing PGR Rep Katerina Webb-Bourne, who is another person I’d like to thank for serving on the BAAS Executive with distinction and imagination. Beyond this, bursaries for PGR and/or ECRs are a common feature in most of the projects which are funded as part of the US Embassy-BAAS small grants schemes (about which more shortly).
Again, the point here is not to sit back and bask in the glory of what we are doing for our PGR and ECR membership. Rather, it is to note an encouraging direction of travel and, even more importantly, to pledge the Association to doing as much as possible to help our more impecunious and precariously placed colleagues benefit from the Association’s work and feel part of our community.
One of the things clearly brought out by the recent UCU strike action over UUK’s proposed theft of huge chunks of USS Pensions was the vulnerability of vast numbers of our junior colleagues in the so-called ‘Precariat.’
Sadly, BAAS is not in a position to solve these disturbing and, frankly, disgraceful structural problems and inequities within Higher Education in the UK. BAAS is, however, acutely aware of the special challenges faced by many of our junior members and it will continue to do what it can to help. Without wishing to descend into cliché, or worse still sound a patronizing tone, it’s our gifted junior colleagues who represent the future of American Studies in the UK and of the Association — so we need to do as much as possible to help them to survive and flourish in extremely challenging circumstances.
Cara will say more about our financial situation, but one of the reasons the Association can offer a little more financial support to PGRs in particular, is because BAAS is in good, primarily thanks to the revenue it now gets from CUP for the Journal of American Studies.
Talking of the JAS, it would be remiss of me not to offer a word of sincere and deep thanks to the outgoing co-editors of the Journal, Celeste Marie-Bernier and Bevan Sewell, who have tremendously enhanced the quality, reach and clout of the Journal during their term at the helm. Interviews are ongoing to find successors for Celeste and Bevan and for Sinead Moynihan and Nick Witham, who have done equally sterling work during their time as co-associate editors.
One of the major new developments I highlighted last year was that BAAS won the race to administer the US Embassy’s Awards for projects that promoted the study or understanding of America. During the year ending 2017, Jo Gill and Carole Holden oversaw a BAAS committee that allocated around £81k of Embassy money to a wide variety of scholarly, educational, and cultural projects.
As I mentioned to last year’s AGM, with regime change in Washington and a slow churn in staff at the Embassy in London, it was by no means clear what, if any money, might be made available by the Embassy for these kinds of projects, let alone who might administer the grants process, and what strings might be attached. The initial indications were that there would be little money and that the administration of those awards would be put out to tender again.
In fact, after a meeting in Newcastle with Tim Gerhardson from the Embassy’s Cultural Affairs Office, BAAS was granted the opportunity to run the programme again for 2018, under exactly the same terms and conditions as the previous year. Obviously, this was an important consideration: the remit for the grant remains to “promote American Studies and/or foster an understanding of the US in the UK.”
That the Embassy continues to trust us to make those judgment calls is gratifying and thanks in no small measure to the marvellous job done by Jo and Carole, supported by administrative help Katie Edwards and Cara Rodway, running the scheme during its first year. I’d also like to formally thank Deputy Cultural Attaché Tim Gerhardson, who will soon complete his tour of duty in the UK. Tim really has been a good, sensible and sympathetic ally of the Association during a tumultuous time and he’ll be much missed.
This year, Lydia Plath of Warwick University and Matthew Shaw, head librarian at the Institute for Historical Research, are managing the scheme and will have roughly the same amount to disburse. The first round of bids to the scheme has already been and gone and, as before the competition has been fierce. I’m delighted, however, that we’ve been able to support 12 very different projects out of 25 applications. The deadline for the second round is May 10, 2018.
Looking forward, it remains unclear how, or even if, the Embassy will want to run a small grants scheme next year. It could take things back under its own governance; or it could again put the small grants programme out to tender. If it is the latter, assuming we would have the same latitude to recommend projects for support, we should think seriously about bidding to play this role again. As I said last year, however, if the terms and conditions change, in ways that we feel compromise BAAS’s mission to promote greater understanding of America, rather than simply to promote America, then we are under no obligation to get involved again and we can move on, knowing we did an exemplary job for two years and enabled some terrific projects to take place.
More Embassy news – I met with Kim Dubois, the new Cultural Attaché, in Newcastle in mid-November and wrote brief letters of welcome to her and the new Ambassador, Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson, on behalf of the Association.
Letters of Support for Ailing Friends
As I reported at last year’s AGM, on November 30, 2016 I wrote a letter on behalf of BAAS to the University of Wyoming in support of its extremely long-standing American Studies BA program which was under threat. Late last summer, I heard that the program has been spared for the indefinite future, subject to hitting some recruitment targets, and the MA is also safe for now
Over the past 18 months or so, I have submitted responses to various HEFCE consultation documents on REF2021, and fed into responses from other professional associations, the Arts and Humanities Alliance and UK Council of Area Studies Associations.
I also oversaw the process whereby BAAS nominated and endorsed several candidates to chair REF2021 sub-panels. And I’m pleased that the lucky winner for the Area Studies Sub-Panel was someone whose candidacy we supported: Professor Susan Hodgett, latterly of the University of Ulster, soon to be of UEA.
Due to a conflict of interest, I had to recuse myself from the process whereby BAAS nominated potential sub-panel members for REF2021 and I’d like to thank Kate Dossett for running that. I’d also like to thank all colleagues who were willing to put themselves forward for consideration to serve. The sub-panel membership was announced in late March; Martin Halliwell will be on the criteria setting panel for English; Joy Porter on the same for History; and I’ll once more be on the Area Studies sub-panel, as will Matthew Shaw from the library at the Institute for Historical Studies. At the assessment phase, I’ll be joined by Faye Hammill (University of Glasgow) on the Area Studies sub-panel.
There is still opportunity for further representations and further appointments and I’ll be looking at what we can do to get some bespoke Americanist representation onto the sub-panels for Politics and Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies.
Achievements, Announcements and events of note to BAAS members
Sad to report on the death in August 2017 of Sandi Russell. Many BAAS members will remember Sandi, an African American jazz singer-novelist-literary critic, who lived the last 30 years of her life in Durham. Sandi was a frequent performer at many BAAS events and at Universities around the UK, especially with her one-woman show celebrating black women writers that was based on her book Render Me My Song.
Promotions to Chair/New Chair Appointments
Promoted to Professor: Michael Cullinane (Roehampton), Peter Knight (Manchester)
I’ve already mentioned that Susan Hodgett is about to move from the University of Ulster to take up a post as Professor of Area Studies at UEA; Susan is also the Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded Blurring Genres Network: Recovering the Humanities for Political Science and Area Studies, with which some colleagues have been involved.
Awards, Fellowships & Visiting Professorships
Martin Eve, Professor of Literature, Technology & Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, selected for the 2018 KU Leuven (Belgium) Medal of Honour in the Humanities and Social Sciences for his work on open access publishing;
James West is completing a semester as a Fulbright-Elon College Scholar at Elon College, North Carolina and will take up a Leverhulme ECR Fellowship at Northumbria in May;
Rebecca Macklin, a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Leeds, has received an All Disciplines Fulbright Award to undertake research on contemporary Native American and South African fiction at Cornell University
Major Funding Awards:
Emma Long (UEA) received an AHRC fellowship for her work on The Modern Roots of Evangelical Engagement with American Politics;
Jacqueline Fear-Segal (UEA) and David Stirrup (Kent) received a Major AHRC Research Grant for three years to study the Native American Presence in Britain.
- Treasurer’s Report (Cara Rodway reporting)
- End of 3 year term – thank you to fellow Executive committee members and to the wider BAAS community for their patience!
- Membership figures – currently over 600 members – 618 members in the online system (inc. 281 concessionary memberships); this is down slightly from last year when there were 635 members in total (331 concessionary memberships); due to the failure of the Standing Orders in January Louise Cunningham has devoted time to a full clean-up of the membership list and she is confident that these figures reflect members who are actively paying.
- Account balances (as of 03/04/2018)
- BAAS Charity Barclays Current Account £2,739.77
- BAAS Charity Barclays Savings Account £91,153.48
- BAAS Charity Shawbrook Savings Account £20,258.58
- PayPal £7,871.21
- BAAS Publications Barclays Current Account £88,849.43
- Presentation of the 2017 accounts –
- [at AGM – proposer and seconder needed]
- the accounts for both BAAS Charity and BAAS Publications are very healthy. The headline figure is that BAAS Publications will Gift Aid £137,655 to BAAS Charity. The BAAS Publications income is higher this year as there has been a change in accountancy practice which means that income earned in 2017 is incorporated into the accounts, even though some of it won’t actually be received until 2018.
- Activities since last meeting
- Savings account (in Feb 2017, £20k of our reserves was put into a one-year fixed rate savings account with Shawbrook Bank, through the Charities Aid Foundation, with a return of 1.30% gross), this has now matured and been rolled over for another year; the interest earned in 2017-18 was £258.58.
- Following the opening of new bank accounts last year as part of the asset transfer required during our change of status with the Charity Commission, members’ existing Standing Order payments failed; this was followed by a major effort to update member payment methods and to clear up the membership database. As noted under (1) above, this has now been completed.
- Handover – will aim to wrap up outstanding payments and prepare handover notes before passing over to the new Treasurer; also propose to travel together to meet our new partner contact, John Saxon at Moffatts Chartered Accountants in Manchester in April or May
- Reserves – we have aimed for 18 months of unrestricted spending (generously calculated at approx. £55k); I suggest that the incoming Treasurer put another £25k in savings this year – the accountant calculates that BAAS Charity currently has reserves which represent 27 months of unrestricted spending, meaning that we have surplus which we should start spending.
- Report of the Publications Sub-Committee (Joe Street reporting)
Journal of American Studies
Another successful and busy year for JAS. Subscriptions continue to be healthy.
The Journal is in excellent shape. Next year’s issues are full and we have agreed to a small increase in the editorial board, in line with BAAS’s equality and diversity campaign; such popularity reflects the journal’s standing in the field. Bevan and Celeste stand down at the end of the year. We shall be announcing their successors shortly, but as important, I want to put on record BAAS’s profound thanks to B&C and their associate editors Nick Witham and Sinead Moynihan for their impeccable and indefatigable work on JAS over the last few years. As I’m sure you’ll agree, the journal is in the best shape it’s ever been in, and this is due in no small part to their leadership of the editorial board. On a personal note, they’ve been a delight to work with.
USSO US Studies Online
USSO continues to attract a vast array of posts on too many subjects to go into here. I would, however, like to point out their excellent guest-edited series on Muslim American women’s writing. USSO consistently gains over 200 visitors each day, with over a third coming from the US. They really are paving the way for BAAS in the international arena. Sadly, USSO’s editors are moving onto pastures new soon. Jade Tullett and Todd Carter will be replaced as editors by Ruth Lawlor and Rachael Alexander; elsewhere USSO’s European Relations editor Katharina Donn and our Social Media editor Christina Brennan, are also moving on. I want to thank them all, especially Jade, for their fantastic work. It has truly been an honour and a privilege working with them on BAAS’s behalf.
Continues thanks to the excellent leadership of Martin Halliwell and Emily West. It recently published Mark Newman’s study of African American nationalism, and seven further books are in the pipeline. They’re always on the lookout for new monograph proposals and will happily discuss any ideas you have.
American Studies in Britain blog
Please consider submitting your news and any other submissions that you think are appropriate.
I am working with the publishers (British Online Archives) on new initiatives. This includes a series of archival fellowships that we intend to start this summer. Please keep your eyes on the BAAS newsletter for details.
- Report of the Development and Education Sub-Committee (Kate Dossett reporting)
Equality & Diversity
Equality continues to be a key priority for the Development and Education Subcommittee in 2017-18.
- We organized Trans Equality training for the BAAS executive in November 2017 and will continue to develop policies on Trans inclusion particularly in relation to conferences and BAAS operational policies. Thanks to Katie McGettigan for taking a lead on this and setting it up
- A member of the executive is appointed each year to lead on equality initiatives. Particular thanks to Althea Legal-Miller who was co-opted onto to the executive committee in 2017 and has shaped discussions and policies on this area.
Closely tied to our equality initiatives has been the Membership Survey.
In April 2017, BAAS conducted a wide-ranging survey of its membership. The purpose of the survey was to consult and obtain the views of BAAS members on a number of important issues facing the American Studies community and academia in the UK, more broadly. The survey was designed to investigate five specific issues:
- the demographic makeup of the American Studies community in the UK;
- gender and racial inequality
- sexual harassment;
- the health of the discipline;
- and what BAAS can do to support its members.
The survey was launched at the annual conference in 2017; members were able to complete the survey via Survey Monkey. It involved a mixture of quantitative and qualitative questions. In total, 111 members, ranging from postgraduate students to retired professors, completed the survey.
This report outlines some of the findings of the survey. It brings together the different questions into six broad themes:
- BAAS demographics
- Departments and institutions
- Discrimination and harassment
- State of the field
- Looking to the future
- Challenges, suggestions and the role of BAAS
The survey was developed by Ben Offiler and we thank him for his work in setting up the survey and for his draft report which will soon be published on the BAAS website. Additionally we plan to develop a number of think pieces for broader public circulation which address some of the key issues raised by members including:
- precarity and early career researchers contracts
- gender inequality
- sexual harassment
The report also details members suggestions for improvements including greater interaction with and the BAAS executive committee. We will report back on these in due course but a first initiative will be to use the BAAS weekly digest which will include an ANY QUESTIONS section with contact information.
Finally another initiative we are developing out of the membership survey is the need for a clear BAAS statement and policy regarding sexual harassment. A working group has been established to develop a clear policy and statement and explore the legal implications of a BAAS grievance procedure in regard to harassment of any kind at either the BAAS Conference or other events which BAAS sponsors.
In 2017 BAAS collaborated with the Cadbury Research Library at Birmingham University which holds the BAAS archive. The project Women in BAAS involved a research internship to explore the history of women in BAAS as reflected through the archive.
The purpose of this paid internship was
- to provide opportunities for early career scholars to gain valuable research and employability skills above and beyond those offered by a PhD programme
- to raise awareness of the archive held at the Cadbury Research Library and encourage its use in scholarly research
- build on and develop our partnership with the Cadbury Research Library with a view to exploring future collaborative projects around the archive
- to raise awareness of BAAS
- to research BAAS’s history in order to inform policy making in areas of strategic importance, for example equality and diversity initiatives.
Sabina Peck, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds was awarded the first internship.
She has developed a series of blogs outlining her findings the first of which has been posted on U.S. Studies Online. She has also conducted a series of oral history interviews with former chairs and members of BAAS including women involved in founding a women’s network in the 1990s. A poster exhibition tracing the history of women and gender in BAAS was displayed at EBAAS 2018. Thanks to Sabina and to Mark Eccleston at the Cadbury Library for this important project. BAAS is looking to promote new research into the archive in 2018-19 and to develop another theme for an internship in 2018-19.
Work with Schools
We have been exploring new possibilities for developing our work with schools. These include working with the British Library to develop a teacher’s resource day. Many thanks to Mercedes Aguirre who is leading on this. We hope to develop a series of events in the coming year through a newly constituted schools working group led by Nick Grant. Also thanks to Katie McGettigan who is continuing to develop web resources for teachers.
BAAS’s website and online profile continues to grow from strength to strength. Nick Grant has been meeting with our web design team Clear and Creative. We will be working with them and a paid internship to improve the website. Thanks to Nick Grant for his work on this.
Rachel Williams the Early Career Representative is developing a peer reading scheme for early career members. The scheme will enable ECRS to be matched up with another ECR to read each other’s work and provide feedback. It stems from feedback from ECR members about the chasm that can open after the PhD and at the start of academic careers when prioritizing research and writing and getting people to read your work has to compete with intense demands of new and diverse teaching.
It’s been a busy year for the development and education committee. We have learned a lot about and from the BAAS membership and hope to continue to find ways for BAAS to shape and lead important discussions about precarity and inequality in higher education and American studies.
- Report of the Awards Sub-Committee (Emma Long reporting)
Breakdown of Award Submissions 2018
|ECR Travel Award – new 2018||5||–||–|
|PG Short Term Travel||22||33||38|
|Barringer Fellowship (Monticello)||1||3||2|
|Public Engagement and Impact Award||2||2||–|
- Thank you to everyone who participated in the awards this year – everything ran really smoothly and that’s because of everyone’s hard work.
- Particular thanks to Louise and Katie for their tireless work behind the scenes keeping everything running, working evenings and weekends around deadlines to ensure panels got the award applications and successful applicants were told promptly.
- This year BAAS made 24 awards in 10 categories (total: £17,700); the Eccles Centre made an additional 9 awards in 5 categories (£18,400); the Miller Centre made 3 awards in 2 categories (total: £1000).
- Adam Mathew have ended their sponsorship of the essay prize – this will not run in future. We thank them for their past support of the award and their work with BAAS.
- Eccles Awards will be announced at the drinks reception at the Eccles Centre for American Studies on Thursday April 5. The BAAS awards will be announced at the conference banquet on Friday April 6. Awards booklets listing all the winners will be available at both events.
Equality and Diversity Statistics for Awards:
* denotes the Chair
^ denotes successful applicant (where known)
|Founders||2 (1^)||4 (3^)||2||1*|
|ECR Travel Award||2 (1^)||3 (2^)||1||2*|
|PG Short Term Travel||12 (4^)||10 (3^)||1||2*|
|GTA Mississippi||0||2 ^||2*||1|
|Monticello Teacher’s Fellowship||1^||0||2*||1|
|Public Engagement and Impact Award||2 ^||0||2*||1|
|UK PG||1 ^||3||1||3*|
|Euro Fellow||4||3 (2^)||1||3*|
|Euro PG||3 ^||2||1||3*|
|UK Fellow||2||2 (2^)||1||3*|
|US Fellow||4 (3^)||0||1||3*|
|UG Essay||7||3 ^||2||1*|
|BAAS Book Award||1||9^||1*||2|
Issues arising/questions for discussion:
- How to encourage more women to apply for the book awards (1 of 10 for BAAS award; 1 of 4 for Miller award)?
- Some problems with publishers not recognising the Miller Award – do BAAS want to consider offering two book prizes/possibly a first book prize? Would this clash with the Miller Awards?
- Engagement with schools – of the six essay submissions and one Teacher’s Fellowship submitted all but one of the essay submissions came from private/selective grammar schools. Thinking about how we reach out to schools and engage them in awards but also generally, would seem to be something for us to consider.
- Report of the Conference Sub-Committee (Paul Williams reporting)
The last time I addressed the AGM was at the 62nd BAAS Annual Conference, held at Canterbury Christ Church University in April 2017. At our last conference there were 55 panels, 163 papers, and 236 delegates. CCCU 2017 pioneered the new format of running from a Thursday to a Saturday lunchtime. This format will continue at future BAAS Annual Conferences, and just to remind you, forthcoming conferences will be held at the University of Sussex in 2019 and the University of Liverpool in 2020. I am pleased to report to the AGM that the 2021 BAAS Annual Conference has been awarded to the University of Hull.
The deadline for applications to host the 2022 BAAS Annual Conference will be the end of this year. This AGM sees the end of my two-year stint as Chair of the Conferences Subcommittee, but I will be happy to chat informally about what a bid looks like either in person during the coming days or via email. Once my successor is in place, they will also be able to talk about the process of submitting a bid, and we can send you a successful sample bid from the recent past. Organizing a BAAS Annual Conference is a demanding role, as I can attest from experience, but it is a rewarding one and a great way of making new friends in the American Studies community.
2019 will also see the return of the Hardship Fund that enables PGRs and ECRs to participate at the BAAS Annual Conference and, as Brian has mentioned, the launch of an International Hardship Fund.
The year’s conference is a collaboration with the European Association for American Studies, and it represents the biggest BAAS Annual Conference to date. My thanks to everyone involved: I am awestruck by your extraordinary abilities of logistics and quick-thinking. To show my gratitude, I would like to thank them individually. First, Christine Okoth, the conference coordinator, and the members of the Organizing Committee: Myka Abramson, Uta Balbier, Martin Halliwell, Zoe Hyman, Daniel Matlin, Cara Rodway, Edward Sugden, Katerina Webb-Bourne, and Nick Witham.
Katerina Webb-Bourne will give you more details about the 2017 BAAS Postgraduate Conference held at the University of Essex, but for now I would like to thank Maria-Irina Popescu and Jessica Houlihan and congratulate them for organizing such a productive and intellectually rich and varied event.
In 2017 various events were awarded Small Conference Support Grants (SCGs) by the Conferences Subcommittee. These included:
- Pocahontas and After: Historical Culture and Transatlantic Encounters, 1617-2017 (Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Institute of Historical Research, 16-18 Mar. 2017). Travel grants were awarded to enable postgraduates and early career researchers (ECR) to attend the conference.
- Trump’s First 100 Days (University of Reading, 2 May 2017). This conference marked the launch of the Monroe Group research network at the University of Reading. The day began with a keynote address by Professor Andrew Rudalevige (Bowdoin College), live-streamed on Facebook and followed by 9,000 people. 60 people attended from around the UK and funding from BAAS allowed 29 postgraduate students to attend the conference at a reduced rate. The conference proceedings will be published by Palgrave MacMillan in September 2018.
- Hardboiled History: A Noir Lens on America’s Past (University of Warwick, 19 May 2017). This conference re-evaluated the function of noir across a variety of media, reflected in the keynotes from Helen Hanson (University of Exeter) and Warren Pleece (graphic novelist). The grant from BAAS helped to subsidize postgraduate attendance, which was subsequently free, and PGRs made up 80% of the delegates.
- Magazines on the Move: North American Periodicals and Travel (Nottingham Trent University, 22 Sept. 2017). This was the third Network of American Periodical Studies (NAPS) symposium, hosted by Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Travel Studies (CTWS), with a keynote by Professor Andrew Thacker (Nottingham Trent University). The Small Conference Support Grant went towards the travel expenses of two of the PGRs presenting papers.
- Contesting Power: Rights, Justice, and Dissent in America and Beyond, Historians of Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS) Annual Postgraduate Conference (University of Cambridge, 21 Oct. 2017). PGRs delivered papers in the first half of the day, and the afternoon was given over to a roundtable and workshop giving advice to postgraduates on professionalization. The event ended with a keynote speech from Kerry Pimblott (University of Manchester). The Small Conference Support Grant provided travel bursaries for six postgraduate presenters.
- American Politics Group annual colloquium (Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, 10 Nov. 2017). The funding from BAAS was used to reduce the cost of attendance for students.
- The Not-Yet of the Nineteenth-Century U.S., 3rd Biennial British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (BrANCA) Symposium (University of Exeter, 17-18 Nov. 2017). Keynotes were delivered by Professor Agniezska Soltysik Monnet (Lausanne) and Professor Lloyd Pratt (Oxford) and a special session was convened on Digital Humanities and nineteenth-century US literature. The Small Conference Support Grant was used to subsidize undergraduate and postgraduate attendance at the event.
- The Transnational American Periodical (Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, 16 Dec. 2017). This conference was arranged in conjunction with the Network of American Periodical Studies (NAPS) and funding from BAAS was provided for postgraduate and ECR travel bursaries and for a ‘Best Postgraduate Paper’ prize.
In 2018 the following events have been awarded Small Conference Support Grants:
- The Cartographic Imagination: Art, Literature and Mapping in the United States, 1945-1980 (18-19 May 2018).
- The Scottish Association for the Study of America (SASA) Annual Conference (3 Mar. 2018).
- Did Liberalism Fail in the United States after 1945? Identity and Conflict from Truman to Trump (1 June 2018).
- The Human Body and World War II (23-24 Mar. 2018).
In the last few days we have made decisions on applications to the SCG scheme received by 1st April (the deadline for the scheme is always 1st April and 1st November each year, and we aim to inform applicants of our decision within 4 weeks). The SCGs are separate from the BAAS-US Embassy scheme that Brian referred to earlier, and if you are organizing an American Studies event please think about applying for one of them. From November 2018 onwards, the amount you can apply for will increase to £350 per event.
The SCGs are primarily aimed at facilitating PGR participation in our scholarly community and awards can be used to subsidize the cost of PGR attendance, or for travel bursaries, and at the last conference I mentioned The Human Body and World War II (23-24 Mar. 2018) an SCG was used to subsidize the cost of childcare. This directly enabled PGRs to attend and present research at the event. As Brian mentioned, the success of this has prompted the Executive Committee to look into subsidizing childcare at future BAAS conferences, starting with the BAAS PG Conference.
I have begun discussing Equality and Diversity matters, and I will say more about this area before finishing my report. If you applied to the SCGs recently you will know we have revised the application process to give greater prominence to Equality and Diversity. If you are thinking about applying, I would urge you to make sure this aspect of your application is substantially addressed. It certainly does mean paying attention to the spaces involved in your event and creating a culture of inclusivity, but it also means what you do before the event starts, namely trying to reach and include communities of scholars currently under-represented in American Studies in the UK. Equality and Diversity is a key criterion for awarding an SCG and we hope future applications will take this into account more fully.
So ends my last report as Chair of the Conferences Subcommittee. I would like to thank Louise Cunningham, who helps administer the SCGs, as well as the BAAS Officers Brian Ward, Sylvia Ellis, and Cara Rodway, and the rest of the Executive Committee, especially my fellows Subcommittee members: Tom Davies, Martin Halliwell, Daniel Matlin, Laura MacDonald, Katerina Webb-Bourne, Nick Witham, and Tom Wright. It’s been my pleasure and my privilege.
- Report of the Postgraduate Representative
KBW reported on the success of the BAAS/CHASE PGR Conference on the theme of Post-Truth & American Myths, held at Essex University, November 25-26 and thanked the organisers, Jessica Houlihan and Marie-Irina Popescu for all their hard work.
The format for these PGR Conferences is now well-established and the 2017 event kicked off with a talk by Patricia Malone (Queen’s University Belfast), winner of the USSO keynote prize, entitled ‘We Hold These Truths to Feel Self Evident: Post-Truth and American Myths, or “The Tyranny of Intimacy.”’
An impressive range of panels and papers by PGRs followed, and the day ended with a roundtable on ‘Activism, Academia and American Studies.’
- Report of the Representative to EAAS
- Any Other Business
BW presented Cara Rodway with a gift as a token of appreciation for her excellent work during her term as Treasurer. The meeting concluded at 4.00pm.