BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: 4 June 2009
1. Present: H Macpherson, M Halliwell (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary) T Saxon (Treasurer), C Bates, I Bell, S Castillo, M Collins, J Fagg, M Halliwell, W Kaufman, G Lewis, R Mason, I Morgan and M Whalan.
Apologies: P Davies, D Ellis, S MacLachlan
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
3. Matters Arising
Action List Review
The Secretary asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties.
- HM reported that she had received an update from the Secretary regarding the status of the American Studies Research Portal.
- WK noted that he had liaised with Bella Adams regarding the Teachers’ List. He has received a copy of it and is in the process of updating it.
- WK noted that he had written to Michael Macy on 22 April regarding the issue of BAAS links with India. Michael Macy has written to say that he will be in touch regarding this matter.
- Other Action Points will come up under the relevant sections below or will be carried forward to the next meeting.
4. Chair’s Business (HM reporting)
- David Brauner has been made Reader at the University of Reading.
- Jacqueline Fear-Segal has been promoted to Reader in American Studies at UEA.
- Nick Selby will become Head of the School at UEA in August.
- In April Alan Rice received a £4,000 grant from the Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield for his project Dramatising Slavery & Emancipating Students: Learning Beyond the Classroom, which he will use to develop his Dramatic Tableau of the slave trade for wider usage.
- Jenel Virden’s latest book, Americans and the Wars of the Twentieth Century, has become a Choice Magazine outstanding academic book of 2008.
- Christopher Bigsby’s biography of Arthur Miller was shortlisted for the Sheridan Morley Prize and the James Tait Memorial Prize, and he has also recently delivered the Esmond Harmsworth Lecture at the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford.
- HM received the Fulbright Spring newsletter (previously circulated by email).
- HM has written to the VC and HoD of UCLAN regarding the 2011 conference and received a reply (circulated).
- HM reminded the committee that Paul Cammack would be in attendance at the Heads of American Studies meeting to discuss the REF. She asked colleagues if there were issues that they wished to take forward.
- IB noted that discussions at Keele seemed to indicate that even with the introduction of bibliometrics and the emphasis on impact there would not be too much difference between the RAE and the REF.
- MW noted that peer review has to stay at the heart of the exercise, as it is such an innate feature of our research.
- GL suggested that it might be worthwhile raising the matter of the submission of research, possibly building into the REF a quantifiable paper trail so that it was easier to find out where outputs had been send. This might also reassure universities about the process of cross-referral.
- SC asked if it might be possible to ascertain the distribution of weightings for the various assessment criteria, i.e. would output, environment and impact be distributed at a ratio of 60 : 20 : 20?
- HM noted that she would bring all of these views to the consultation meeting. The final results of the consultation will be published in the autumn.
- HM was invited to attend the AHRC subject association meeting on 28 May. She was unable to attend and IM attended on behalf of BAAS. IM noted that it was a reasonably interesting event but felt it was less a consultation than a meeting in which the AHRC spoke to subject associations. Feedback from the meeting will be on the website. IM noted that the main thing to take away from the meeting is that the allocation of funding will be much tighter from 2011 onwards. He also noted that there would be certain key themes which the AHRC will favour and which will get 25% of funding. He felt that literature and culture specialists might find it easier to fit into some of these key themes than those working in history and politics. Certainly ‘impact’ was the buzzword which came out of the meeting. However while it was clear what ‘impact’ meant for the performing arts, it was less obvious for more traditional disciplines. It seems that they hope to forge a link between the academy and the community. There was also discussion about media impact and IM suggested that this is something the BAAS membership will need to think about with funding applications. IB noted that the AHRC seem to be following the ESRC model for funding distribution so it might be worth looking at how they measure impact. MH mentioned that Shearer West came to Leicester to talk about this matter and she admitted that it was easier to tie into strategic themes if you were working on UK- related subjects rather than other area studies. What is evident is that colleagues may have to reshape our research to fit the strategic areas.
- HM was invited to the CEO meeting of the Academy of Social Sciences on 9 June but could not attend.
- HM was invited to the UKCASA AGM on 10 June but unable to attend. MH is attending on behalf of BAAS.
(e) Consultations and Activities
- HM noted that the AHRC Future Directions Consultation paper was submitted on behalf of BAAS 6 May. She thanked all who contributed to this.
- HM responded to the Research Councils UK Knowledge Transfer Consultation (submitted 7 May).
- HM responded to RIN consultation on the use of blogs, wikis and Web 2.0.
5. Secretary’s Business
- CM noted that, as usual, her main role revolved around information flow. She regularly passed information on to Alison Kelly, Clare Elliot and Graham Thompson for ASIB, the mailbase and the website respectively. She helped direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources; fielded enquires for fellowship opportunities and course information from many academics and students (both postgraduate and undergraduate); and is awaiting materials from the Charities Commission so she can update our records with details of the new committee members. CM has also been contacted by overseas postgraduates seeking advice and guidance on employment and publication opportunities, which she responded to.
- CM wrote to the Embassy with an update of the new committee members and structure and wrote to welcome all the new committee members (with details of their Trustee status).
- After the conference CM made some enquiries regarding the American Studies Research Portal. She has been informed by Karen Perkins at the SAS that the site’s web-hosting company sold the domain name (www.asrp.info) without telling the SAS, so it is no longer available. The SAS are in the process of trying to find a new domain name, so that they can restore the information on the ASRP. They will certainly pass on details of it to BAAS as soon as a new web address is available.
- CM attended the Reagan’s America event at the Rothermere American Institute on 2 June.
- CM noted that she is in the process of updating the BAAS leaflet with new committee details. She asked it the committee would support spending a little money on the new leaflet to make it more professional looking. This was agreed. She is working on the production of a new slide for BAAS.
- MW raised the issue of media inquiries. The Executive Committee agreed that as the plans for the REF take shape, it is apparent that measuring the impact of our research beyond the academic community will be an increasingly important criterion in the assessment of research activity. One way of improving ‘impact’ is through our work with the media. MW suggested formalising the process with the creation of a new role for an existing committee member – an Impact Officer. MH agreed that this was a good direction for BAAS and suggested that it might be useful to consider Impact as a regular agenda item at the meeting of the Development subcommittee. IM noted that he receives many requests for media consultation, many of which he is unable to fulfil. He agreed that it would be useful to have a mechanism in place for passing these requests on to others. HM agreed that the creation of an Experts Lists (along the line of the External Examiner’s List) would be useful. MW and CM will work on a notice calling for details to be added to an Expertise List. The notice will be placed in the next edition of ASIB.
6. Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)
- The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 15 April 2009) were as follows: General Deposit, £7,824.69; Short Term Awards, £1871.44; Current, £7,225.00; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £17,890.82. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 and the US Dollar Account has $9,460.90.
- TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 475 including 166 postgraduates. This does not compare favourably to the position last year, which was 535 members (with 193 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 538 (185 postgraduate) compared to 631 (with 254 postgraduates) in April 2008. TS noted that while we have not lost any members since April there has not been an increase. She added that there are 800 names on her membership database, which indicates that a substantial number have fallen out of the renewal loop. She suggested that we may want to think about ways of attracting new members and maintaining existing members.
- TS noted that we are slightly low on accounts but this is due to a recent payment on the Eccles Awards.
- TS brought the Committee’s attention to the Conference account which is dormant (i.e. no activity for three years and it is not interest bearing). TS asked if it would be possible to amalgamate the Conference account with our General Deposit account as there seems no point in having a dedicated conference bank account when university conference offices handle this. The Executive Committee agreed that this was a good idea.
- HM asked if TS had made any progress on accessing the offshore account. TS noted that the issue was ongoing.
7. Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)
- WK opened his report by extending a warm welcome to Chris Bates, the new Schools liaison member.
- On behalf of the Development subcom WK recommended that the following small conferences be supported: Dr David Stirrup (Kent) and Dr Gillian Roberts (Nottingham) have applied for £300 to fund a conference on ‘Culture and the Canada-US Border’, to be held at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Dr Jill Terry (Worcester) has applied for £300 for a conference entitled ‘Transatlantic Routes of American Roots Music.’ Both applications were approved by the Executive Committee, subject to confirmation of disbursement of awards to postgraduate students.
- WK confirmed that he had written to Michael Macy regarding links with the India. He is awaiting further correspondence with Mr Macy.
- WK noted that he has received some more endorsements/quotations from AS graduates quotations, which he will forward to the Secretary and the other officers.
- WK reported that there had been a good deal of schools business since the conference, and he had frequently liaised with Dr Bella Adams of the American Studies Resources Centre at LJMU. WK requested that Dr Adams be invited regularly to meetings (in her capacity as Chair of the ASRC). He added that the Secretary had already discussed the possibility with Dr Adams who seems very willing. The Secretary is to check the Constitution to confirm if it is possible to formally invite Dr Adams on to the Executive Committee.
- WK reported the receipt of an American Studies contacts list from David Forster of the American Studies Resource Centre, which is to be merged with a list in the Secretary’s possession for compilation of a master copy. HM will take charge of compiling this database. HM noted that it might be worthwhile writing to Schools to inform them of their free BAAS membership, to ask what they would like to see on the new BAAS website, remind them of the BAAS Awards for Schools, and inform them of how links with BAAS might be of benefit.
- A long discussion followed on how BAAS might be instrumental in getting American Studies personnel into Schools to talk about aspects of the disciplines. TS noted that it would be worthwhile getting some postgraduate students on board as it would be a good opportunity to get experience of speaking to groups. CM will prepare a notice calling for Schools Speakers, along the lines of the notice calling for the Media Contacts Database. The notice will be to be placed in the next edition of ASIB. CM will coordinate the list of those willing to speak to Schools.
- WK reported that at the meeting of the Development subcommittee it was agreed that those with specific roles should send a written report in advance in the event of their non-attendance.
- WK noted the need to monitor the amount of monies awarded in BAAS Conference Organisation Support. PD had asked at the previous meeting to consider whether we need to cap the funds awarded. HM noted that we do not fund all requests that come through and some events do not happen. TS will send WK some figures from previous years so that the issue can discussed in depth at the next meeting.
8. Postgraduate Business (MC reporting)
- MC noted that it had been brought to his attention that Irish members (those registered at HEIs in the Republic of Ireland) cannot apply for our BAAS essay prizes. He asked if it would be possible to institute a reciprocal relationship with the IASA (as BAAS members registered at British HEIs can apply for IASA awards). The Executive Committee agreed that this be ratified as long as it does not contravene our regulations. IB to check the Awards regulations. CM noted that a reciprocal relationship would keep this agreement limited to Ireland. CM asked about the situation with STAs and whether these would also be opened to colleagues at Irish HEIs. MC recommended that the arrangement be restricted to the essay prizes as we cannot win their STAs. This was agreed by the Executive Committee.
- MC reported that he has been involved in preliminary discussions with his German counterpart regarding a European-based postgraduate forum. He will report back to the Committee when he has further news on this.
- MC reported that the US Embassy Small Grants programme has been discontinued. As this was a source of funding for the BAAS Postgraduate Conference, MC asked if BAAS should aim to provide a disbursement of £200 for catering, in addition to the £300 already offered (which is ring-fenced for registration subsidies). HM affirmed the value of postgraduates continuing to apply for the £300, and an additional £200 to cover other costs on top of that, to encourage bidding experience. Colleagues felt that asking the Postgraduate Organiser to submit two separate applications seemed rather onerous. This was agreed by the Executive Committee that the £300 would be granted to the organiser (upon his/her making contact with the Secretary and the Treasurer regarding the Postgraduate Conference float). A formal application would have to be submitted for the additional £200. It was also agreed that an honorarium of £50 (one payment to a single named organiser) would be given to the BAAS Postgraduate Conference organiser as an incentive.
- MC reported that twelve UK postgraduates would be participating in the New York Summer Institute.
9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)
- KM sent an extensive written report noting that his short article on the BRRAM series has now been published in the Spring 2009 issue of ASIB.
- He also reported that the problem with the quality of the microfilm images supplied by the British Library for “The Manuscripts of Samuel Martin…” (for which Dr Natalie Zacek has already supplied an introduction) remains unresolved. The British Library’s Imaging Services had offered to provide better quality reproductions for the text of a number of images in this publication but, despite some positive signals in the early spring, silence has fallen once more. This title appears on the MAP website with a note alerting potential customers to the defect, but it has not yet been supplied to BRRAM standing order customers pending a remedy from the BL.
- Further to KM’s meeting with Ms Gill Furlong at the University of London Archives, he is awaiting a decision about whether it will be possible to use material in their collections for the BRRAM series.
- KM was happy to report that “The Canadian Papers of the 4th Earl of Minto…” has been filmed and released; however Dr Tony McCulloch has not yet completed his introduction. KM will contact Dr McCulloch to suggest a firm final deadline for the introduction.
- KM also reported that Dr Roderic Vassie intends to visit Bangor University in late June 2009 to discuss the microfilm and/or online publication of the Penrhyn Castle MSS, which deals with Jamaican slavery.
- The material from Rhodes House’s USPG Canadian Papers has now been released in microfilm. KM was unable to find a specialist editor for this publication.
- KM reported that Microform Academic Publishers has now launched its online gateway, British Online Archives, which includes various existing BRRAM titles (www.britishonlinearchives.co.uk). In particular, this resource includes a selection of BRRAM titles under the series title “British Records on the Atlantic World, 1700-1850.” MAP has subscription details for this online material. KM will also send details of this to Dr Alison Kelly for publication in ASIB.
- Finally, KM noted his intentions to publicise the BRRAM series as part of his role on the Advisory Board of the Atlantic History section of “Oxford Bibliographies Online,” a series currently being prepared for Oxford University Press’s New York branch.
Edinburgh University Press (EUP)
- Nothing to report.
Journal of American Studies
- MH reported that the proposal to add an additional Associate Editor to the JAS team was discussed at the London meeting in March. This proposed role would possibly called the ‘Media Editor’ or ‘Online Editor’, with a shorter 2-year term (to begin in January 2011), which would be renewable for up to one term. The January 2011 start date would coincide with that of the new Editor and Associate Editor. He added that for the purposes of succession it was crucial that all three roles were in sync. The new AE would represent JAS at BAAS (alongside the other editors) and be given charge of more extensive reviews. CM raised the issue of advertising the post and the need to have a clear job description. MH will work on this with SL and SC and send out a mailbase call in the autumn for names to come to BAAS by January or April 2010. It was thought prudent to advertise for all three JAS positions at the same time so that all three candidates could be ratified together next year. SC added that it was exciting that the journal was going through various changes but noted that these changes needed to be adequately resourced by CUP. The Executive Committee were in favour of this proposal. SC will take this news back to CUP for further discussion and planning.
- MH reported that JAS had recently gone live on JSTOR.
- MH noted that developments with First View were still in the pipeline.
American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
- The deadline for the next issue is 31 July. AK expects to distribute ASIB to the membership in mid-September.
- AK has been in discussion with the Editor of RAS, who will send copies of the journal to her in sufficient time to enable simultaneous distribution.
- AK has a new email address: email@example.com
US Studies Online
- The new Editor, Felicity Donohoe, sent a written report outlining her plans to redesign the journal as an e-zine.
- Flyers marketing the journal were distributed at the BAAS conference.
- The latest edition, with papers from the BAAS Postgraduate Conference, has gone live.
- In light of discussions in April regarding a professional redesign of the website and the possibility of linking it to a Learning and Teaching exercise at Liverpool John Moores University, Dr Bella Adams was invited to join the meeting of the Publications subcommittee. After discussions with BA, MH noted that the subcommittee cannot see advantages of embedding the website at LJMU. Such a move raises questions regarding the speed of delivery and update, the permanency of the move, and the efficacy of tying it to student-based issues. Also, BA had confirmed that she did not have the technical skills to overhaul the website and would require additional skills and training to maintain it. Thus, the Executive Committee agreed to set the issue aside and return to the possibility of a professional overhaul. MH asked the Committee to think again about a stipend for a Webster and possibly asking some of the postgraduate candidates who had applied for the US Online Editorship if they would be interested in taking over the role once the site had been revised. CM noted that she had contacted two web design companies and was awaiting quotations. The general consensus on the matter was to move forward with the redesign of the website after comparing quotations and afterwards discuss the issue of replacing GT.
- MH reported that the Publications subcommittee had discussed the possibility of linking BAAS with American Studies Today. WK suggested the possibility of BAAS sponsoring AST to promote links with schools. The Executive Committee agreed that this was not possible at the moment, given involvement with ASIB, US Studies Online, JAS and RAS. However, the Committee welcomed suggestions on other possible ways forward. BA to discuss with WK, Ian Ralston and Chris Bates.
10. Conference Subcommittee (GL reporting on behalf of SM)
- GL reported that Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier had sent a letter of complaint to the Nottingham University conference and was awaiting a response. TS noted the need to confirm when letter was sent and schedule a date for a follow-up letter in the event of a non-reply.
- Official thanks were extended to CMB. HM to write formally to CMB.
- GL noted that CMB’s honorarium will not be processed until the conference account is closed.
- The preparations for the 2010 BAAS Conference at UEA are well underway. Dr Thomas Ruys-Smith has a team in place at UEA.
- The 2010 Conference poster will soon be sent out to the Executive Committee and TRS has been in touch with GT regarding placing the poster on website. The Abstracts Online process is underway.
- GL noted that there were some minor issues regarding the conference accommodation but they are all in hand (i.e. some delegates would be accommodated on campus and some in a local Travel Lodge). To harmonise costings and the booking procedure TRS and his team had decided to present one cost for the conference but delegates would be allowed to specify their accommodation preference. TRS will also investigate the possibility of shared accommodation in the Travel Lodge.
- The conference outline thus far was set as follows:
Thursday: Reception hosted by UCLAN followed by dinner at Sainsbury Centre for Fine Arts.
Friday: Civic reception in Norwich, followed by plenary lecture.
Delegates would make their own arrangements for dinner.
Saturday: Dinner at Sainsbury Centre for Fine Arts.
All delegates would breakfast on campus. And there would be a regular 24-hour bus between the campus and the Travel Lodge.
- There would be a publishers’ space at UEA, separate to the tea & coffee serving area.
- Other learned associations had already been invited.
- TRS will be in touch with WK and CB regarding the organisation of Teachers events.
- The list of plenary speakers was in process. UEA will decide their own speaker. This year there would be a literature lecture for JAS and a history lecture for the Eccles Centre.
- HM noted that it would be useful if the Awards Chair could prepare a list of the winners for the officers and the conference organiser as early as possible so that prize-winners would be informed and advised to attend the Awards Ceremony.
GL reported that AVS was proving to be hugely expensive and difficult for TRS to organise.
Laptops would not be provided and PowerPoint would not be available. Those wishing to use internet facilities would need to bring their own laptop. HM stressed that this needs to be reiterated in the booking confirmation letter to the delegates.
UCLAN dates were confirmed for 15-18 April 2011.
11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)
- IB reported that discussions had been ongoing with the University of Louisiana State but had stalled recently due to financial issues.
- IB noted that he had received details of the Eccles winners. IB to send list of winners to the Secretary.
- IB noted that an official form needed to be developed for the BAAS Fellowships. IB will draft a paper for the September meeting asking proposers to include details such as the name of candidate; name of proposer; reasons for nomination including major publications and service to the community (word limit – 750). A deadline would need to be agreed so that the Executive Committee can confirm the winners at the January meeting. It was agreed that there would be no more than two BAAS Fellows in a given year. GL suggested that winner be formally invited to the conference banquet, with BAAS covering the cost of their travel and the meal. This was agreed by the Committee.
- Finally, IB discussed the relatively low number of applications for some the Eccles Awards and noted that the later timing on the Ambassador’s Awards brought in significantly increased number of applications. He wondered if timing was possibly a factor and if so suggested that we push back the deadline. HM noted that all awards had to be processed at the same time so we could announce the winners’ names at the banquet. However, the matter will be discussed in consultation with PD at the next meeting.
12. Libraries and Resources Committee
No report received.
13. EAAS (CM reporting on behalf of PD)
PD sent a written report noting that there was no new EAAS news since April. He is still waiting for the EAAS Newsletter to go live with the call for papers. As soon as it does he will circulate the call through the BAAS e-list.
14. Any Other Business
- HM raised the issue of duration of terms of office. Elected members of the Executive Committee serve a three year term, with the exception of the Postgraduate Representative and the EAAS Representative who serve two and five years respectively. The Executive Committee can also co-opt members, such as the Teachers’ Representative and the Associate Editor of JAS. All co-opted terms must be reviewed annually by the officers and there can be no more than three co-opted members at a time. For ex-officio members of the Committee, the duration of their term is linked with the term of office (for instance, the Editor of JAS). However, there is an anomaly with the Chair of BLARs, with currently no parameters on the term; the two former incumbents remained in the role until retirement from their institutions. HM suggested that this term is regulated to three years with the opportunity for one renewal of term (thus bringing it into line with the other members of the Committee). This was unanimously agreed by the Committee. The term of the current incumbent of this post is now set as commencing in April 2009 running until April 2012, with the opportunity for one renewal. CM will update the Standing Orders and the files accordingly.
- IB noted that he had received a request from a colleague regarding research into the success of American Studies AHRC bids. HM noted we’ve reported success rate for panels and minuted individual successes. She added that it was difficult to gather information on the numbers who have made applications. MH noted that he would like to push the AHRC regarding the appointment of an Americanist on Panel A and/or Panel D. He added that the AHRC seem unwilling to volunteer information on this. HM will make appropriate enquiries.
15. Date of next meeting
The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at 26 September 2009 at the University of Leicester.
Subcommittee meetings will commence at 10.30am.
Dr. Catherine Morley
Office Phone: (0116) 223 1068