Minutes of the 289th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday 10 June 2017 at 1.00 pm.
- Present: Brian Ward (Chair), Sylvia Ellis (Secretary), Cara Rodway (Treasurer), Kate Dossett, Joe Street, Simon Hall, Sue Currell, Althea Legal-Miller, Laura MacDonald, Ben Offiler, Emma Long, Paul Williams, Nick Grant, Katerina Webb-Bourne
- Apologies: Celeste-Marie Bernier, Bevan Sewell, Emma Long, Tom Wright, Tom Davies, Katie McGettigan, Dan Matlin, Martin Halliwell
- Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go up 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 sections below.
- Chair’s Business (BW reporting)
(a) Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence (April 2017 – June 2017)
- The Chair welcomed the newly elected members of the Executive Committee (Sue Currell, Sylvia Ellis, Nick Grant & Rachel Williams) and those co-opted to serve on sub-committees (Martin Halliwell, Althea Legal-Miller & Laura MacDonald). He also offered thanks to all members of the Executive Committee (some of whom were re-elected to new terms of service in April,) for their continued hard work over the past 3 months.
- He reported it had been a relatively quiet period, mainly taken up with minor reshuffles, but reported the following:
- Embassy/BAAS Awards: As mentioned to the Exec and at the AGM in April, it is no clearer about if, whether or how the Embassy will want to handle its funding support in the coming year. There’s still no confirmed Ambassador and, until such time as there is, we’re in a kind of limbo;
- Several months ago BW wrote to the Dean of Arts at the University of Wyoming, to help make a case against plans to shut down one of the oldest and most influential American Studies BA programs in the US. He received a very nice reply at the time and three weeks ago heard that the program has been spared for the indefinite future, subject to hitting some recruitment levels, and the MA is also safe for now;
- Priorities for 2017-18: BW confirmed that all the sub-committees have their plans and sub-agendas. Last year the Exec completed the move to CIO status and made considerable headway on issues relating to Equality and Diversity – something that should continue to built upon (not least through our responses to the Membership Survey). This year, and maybe for the next two years, special attention should be given to our work with schools, in particular, and to outreach or public engagement plans more generally.
- The health and status of American Studies as a discipline and as an undergraduate degree program in the UK is perennially perilous (peaks and troughs), and it’s difficult to predict how things will play out over the next few years with Donald Trump in the White House. He did note, however, that BAAS is uniquely placed to encourage awareness that there’s an American Studies community in Britain who can offer expertise and perspective on events in the contemporary US and to publicize the possibilities for undergraduate and postgraduate study in the subject – not least to teachers advising 6th
(b) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- James West, currently a teaching fellow at Birmingham, won a Leverhulme ECR fellowship to come to Northumbria to work on “African American Media Architecture,” but won’t arrive until 2018 so that he can complete a Fulbright fellowship.
- Congratulations to Michael Cullinane who has been appointed to the position of Reader in American History at the University or Roehampton.
- Secretary’s Business (SE reporting)
(a) The Secretary confirmed that an election for Vice Chair had been held and that Kate Dossett had been duly elected. She also confirmed the 2017-2018 co-options of Martin Halliwell, Althea Legal-Miller and Laura MacDonald.
(b) She reported that a handover meeting was held with Jenny Terry and she now has all necessary documents, leaflets, and electronic data.
(c) She confirmed that the Charities Commission website had been updated with new member details and old member details had been deleted.
(d) The Charities Commission have also acknowledged receipt of the revised Constitution.
(e) She had received several enquiries from the media in relation to the Trump presidency and the names of suggested contacts were forwarded.
(f) The next Executive meeting to be held on Friday 24 November 2017.
- Treasurer’s Business (CR reporting)
- Bank accounts (as at 9 June 2017)
BAAS Current Account £4,729.13
BAAS Savings Account £91,031.65
PayPal not reported
BAAS Publications Ltd £38,069.23
CAF Savings Account £20,000.00
- Membership Figures
Headline figure is 627 active members [620 in April 2017]
- Transfer of assets
- the old accounts have been closed, including the dollar account
- new current and savings accounts have been opened, still with Barclays, and the monies transferred from the old accounts into the new ones
- BAAS Publications remains unchanged
- Payroll – operating smoothly and Treasurer has distributed the first P60s
- Accountant – Aysha Rangrez at Moffatt & Co has left to take on a new role; one of the partners, Masaud Shah, is the new BAAS accountant.
- Forthcoming Issues
- CUP/Bertoli Mitchell – BAAS is due its final payment from CUP on the 2016 volume of which we will pay the agreed portion to the lawyers – this will be the last payment due to Bertoli Mitchell under the agreement that saw them help BAAS renegotiate the CUP contract
- Standing Orders – due to having had to open new bank accounts to comply with the change in legal status, members’ Standing Orders will cease to work; the bulk of SO payments arrive in January so Louise, Katie and CR are in discussions with the web developers to see if improvements can be made to the PayPal/BAAS website interface so that we can encourage all members to move to PayPal rather than have them set up new Standing Orders; PayPal is easier to administrate for Membership purposes.
- Equality and Diversity
Althea Legal-Miller agreed to lead on equality and diversity issues for this year.
It was agreed that trans equality training by Ray Filar would take place at the beginning of the November Exec meeting.
ALM highlighted good practice at other conferences, including a scheduled equality and diversity session, and there was a discussion of how this might be replicated by BAAS. BW supported this but anticipated some scheduling difficulties.
|Action Point: PW to write a paper on what BAAS could explore re future conferences|
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
- a) Report of editors
JS confirmed that after double-checking the Nottingham/Edinburgh term dates (and taking into consideration Edinburgh’s early graduation) the proposed date of the JAS 50th birthday event is Monday 25 June 2018. BAAS Exec members to attend and funded by BAAS.
Three additional board members have been proposed to join the JAS editorial board (N. King, G, Musila and S. Kurashige). CVs and mission statement received from King and Musila and Kurashige to follow.
- b) Advert for new editors:
JS confirmed that the process for replacing the current editors, Bevan Sewell and Celeste-Marie Bernier should begin with an open call in October. Applications will be sent in writing (CV and mission statement) to the Chair of Publications and a shortlist for interview at the BAAS conference will be drawn up by the Chair of Publications, BAAS Chair, Vice Chair and Editor of JAS (with one other member of the Publications Committee joining the interview panel). JS proposed changes to the previous advert and the revised wording will be shared with the BAAS officers and then forward to the wider Exec for approval. Given the timing of the next Exec (November), Chair’s action will be taken to approve the advert.
- c) Edinburgh University Press report of editors:
- i) Mark Newman has submitted the final typescript of his ‘Black Nationalism’ book. It is currently in copy editing and due for release in Jan 2018.
- ii) Tessa Roynon’s ‘Classical Tradition and Modern American Fiction’ was approved by EUP and is now under contract. The projected release date is Jan 2020.
iii) An edited book ‘Theorizing the US-Canadian Border’ is out for peer-review.
- d) USSO report:
US Studies Online is continuing its collaboration with the Adam Matthew Digital Collections, which has seen four posts on topics from the wilderness to world’s fairs. We have also run two guest-edited special series so far this year. The first was Alfred Cardone’s (Kings College London), ‘Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016’, which featured articles that took readers on a media-led tour of Trump’s election. Articles included an analysis of the Trump campaign’s relationship with the Tea Party movement, and a reading of the 45th US President through John Higham. Building on last year’s digital appendix, the series also featured a ‘trans-media post-mortem’ by Darren Reid and Brett Sanders. In May, USSO featured the series ‘Beyond the Graphic: Considering Violence, Sexuality and Obscenity in Comics’ guest-edited by Dr Harriet Earle (Sheffield Hallam). The six articles include analyses of vampires, sexual trauma, and notions of the divided city. USSO are also pleased to announce that this year’s Keynote Competition will be running with the support of BAAS and the PG BAAS organisers Irina Popescu and Jess Houlihan. It is expected that a call will be released by 1 July, and we are looking forward to replicating the success of last year. Costings will be the same as last year (£100).
- e) British Records Related to America on Microfilm
- f) Equality and Diversity: statement to be added to the advert for JAS editors.
- g) BAAS-MAP
Board to consist of one representative from MAP; BAAS Publications Chair; BAAS Development Chair; BAAS ECR or Postgraduate representative; Ken Morgan; one previous intern (to act as mentor on a one- or two-year term; once they finish, a new former intern will take their place). Details of the Board responsibilities and MAP responsibilities were discussed and agreed.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (KD reporting)
KD welcomed Althea Legal-Miller as the new Equality & Diversity Co-Ordinator and confirmed that ALM will co-ordinate E&D across the sub-committee and wider Exec.
Each sub-committee to be responsible for E&D as in the previous year. ALM and KD to formulate a plan of what to focus on for 2017-18.
E&D training for Exec members was discussed and it was agreed that members should take this at their own institutions. Trans-awareness training session could be the model for further training, Charities Commission guidance to be consulted by KD.
BAAS to encourage its wider membership to engage with E&D.
KM gave her last report on her web role and thanks to her were expressed. Nick Grant has agreed to take over the responsibility for the website and mailing list. NG will review how this is going at the November meeting.
Work with Schools
KD reported that the sub-committed would work on a plan for the work with schools and a working group would report back to the Exec. JT reported on Royal Geographic Society’s Ambassador Scheme as a possible model. Over the summer KM will focus on web resources for teachers. A call for a new a schools rep will be put out.
BO gave a progress report. 15% response rate was reasonable but aiming for 20% so a final push via the newsletter and social media (deadline 4 July). Early data suggests a range of ages and experience but highlighted the ‘whiteness’ of BAAS membership.
|Action: BO to present data at next Exec and actions to follow|
BO reported that was a take up on mentoring.
ECR Rep Report
RW interested in the mentoring scheme and its link to the survey. She will explore this and other initiatives, eg. Developing PGR and ECR writing groups.
- Conference Subcommittee (PW reporting)
1) Equality and Diversity
- Laura MacD drew attention to an initiative run by the American Society for Theater Research: the José Esteban Muñoz Fund. This is targeted funding aimed at fostering the production of minoritarian knowledge and represents a model that could be adapted for BAAS.
|Action Point: PW to at Muñoz scheme and draft a BAAS version, liaising with Althea L-M and the Conference Subcom|
- The CFP for BAAS PG Conference is currently being drafted and will discourage proposals for all-male panels.
- Paul W noted that, with the Small Conference Support Grants, BAAS explicitly states that applications must show consideration of equality and diversity yet we have not turned down any proposals that do not show such a commitment.
- Nick W suggested adding a box to the form so conference organisers were forced to demonstrate that they had taken steps to address equality and diversity, which all agreed was a good next step.
|Action Plan: PW to redraft application for the SCGs and inform Nick G about website changes (by next round in November).|
2) BAAS 2017
- Debriefing on success of BAAS2017 held at Canterbury Christ Church U:
- Many felt that the atmosphere and intellectual quality of the conference was
- \of a high standard and it was extremely well organised.
- Paul W reported that he is in regular contact with Gavan L and Lydia P about the final accounting; this will be done by 31 July at the latest. A substantial surplus has been mooted.
- Gavan L and Lydia P have been informed that they also need to (a) write a brief report for ASIB and (b) complete the online report form generated for the Embassy grant, and both are committed to doing this promptly (the deadline for the online form is 19 June).
|Action Point: PW to liaise with Lydia and Gavan L on reports/accounts and offer final report at next meeting|
- The format of the BAAS Annual Conference, and the nature of British conference culture generally, was debated in the Exec. Some of the points raised:
- Joe S asked whether the number of parallel sessions led to poor attendance at some panels.
|Action Point: PW to bring figures on overall attendance/ratio of day/weekend attendance|
- Kate D reported from the Women’s Network meeting that non-academic activities at conferences alienating attendees when they are centred on drinking and incur extra expense (e.g. the banquet). Other suggested options included: Coffee house evening with music; breakfast meetings.; Providing a meal on the first evening as part of the conference package; moving all of the awards to a different part of the schedule so seeing them given out isn’t dependent on attending the banquet.
- EBAAS conference website should have a page – or clear link through to a different site – that lists cheap or free events taking place in London during the conference.
|Action Point: PW to ask NW if this can be done. PW to ask the Toms to explore social events for 2019, perhaps asking for input from a PG supervisee, with the knowledge that BAAS can provide funds for an alternative extracurricular activity that seems attractive and appropriate|
- There seemed general agreement that, with BAAS having more funds available than in the past, and with less impetus on the Annual Conference to make a surplus, subsidising the banquet to maximise postgraduate attendance should be explored further. It was also suggested that attendance at the banquet should be automatically included in the cost of attending the whole weekend.
|Action Point: Once figures for attendance at BAAS2017 are known, PW to liaise with the Toms on providing a variety of costings for BAAS2019 (to assess the implications (a) if the banquet was included in the cost of the full conference package and (b) if BAAS significantly subsidised the cost of the banquet for PGs).|
- It was requested that the cost of attendance for the JAS and Eccles Centre speakers should not be borne by JAS and the Eccles Centre respectively but folded into the cost of running the BAAS conference. To date, this has been at the discretion of conference organisers.
|Action Point: PW to liaise with NW and the Toms to see if possible for 2018 and 2019 conferences/ place in briefing notes for conference organisers so standard 2020|
3) EBAAS 2018
- Report on progress (NW) – Flyers/posters mailed out this month; KCL has offered administration support via the Arts and Humanities Research Institute for free, but for the time being these costs remain included in the budget; UCL has agreed to indemnify the banquet at Senate House; the CFP was officially launched at BAAS2017; more notices to go in the weekly Email Briefing. Any suggestions for publicising EBAAS far and wide should be sent to Nick W.
|Action Point: All members of Exec to explores ways of publicising EBAAS|
- A Facebook page has been set up for the conference:
|Action points: All members of Exec to LIKE the EBASS Facebook page.
NW to link the Facebook page to the EBAAS web page.
KWB to connect the Facebook page to relevant postgraduate pages
- Various ways of facilitating the constructions of panel proposals were discussed, with some promising suggestions being the use of social media. It was agreed that the steer towards submitting preformed panels is something of an experiment for BAAS and individual paper proposals would still get reasonable consideration.
- KWB is looking into a postgraduate social event on one evening and an alternative dinner for PGs who won’t attend the banquet. CR confirmed BAAS can pay a deposit to secure a venue.
|Action Point: KWB to explore option and inform NW so PG events can be incorporated into the EBAAS schedule.|
- PW reported a request from ProQuest about a plenary session with various online database providers about getting feedback from potential academic users.
|Action Point: NW and PW to discuss viability of this.|
- The conference teams for 2018 and 2019 are liaising over the Sussex-sponsored reception.
- No news available on when a decision will be made about the BAAS / US Embassy grants scheme for 2018. The intention remains to request £6100 to help subsidise PG attendance. Paul W has drafted an application for this amount and purpose.
|Action Point: PW to confirm details (when announced) with NW and submit the application for £6100.|
- In light of the recent terrorist attacks Brian W. asked whether a risk assessment of the conference had been undertaken and to ensure that this was done as a matter of utmost importance.
|Action Point: PW to ask NW about this and for the EBAAS organisers to work with all institutions involved to conduct a risk assessment of conference security.|
4) BAAS 2019
- Report on progress (TD):
- The timing of BAAS2019 has changed to 25-27 April. This is an inevitable change responding to the shift in teaching dates at the University of Sussex. The Toms have checked these dates against other major American Studies-related conferences, religious holidays, and Brighton-based events.
|Action Point: PW to inform IAAS and the BAAS membership of the new dates via weekly email briefing|
- The Toms have reserved rooms for the new dates on the University of Sussex campus; keynotes are being programmed for the Attenborough Creative Arts Centre and panels in the Jubilee Building.
- No accommodation will be available on campus but the conference webpage will take visitors through to a website offering discounted accommodation in Brighton.
- Mobility issues are being included in the planning of venues / transportation and the Toms are looking into providing a bus pass for conference attendees.
- The banquet is planned for the Metropole Hotel (provisional cost: £48 inc. VAT for 3 courses and half a bottle of wine per person)
- The Toms are working closely with Visit Brighton.
- In terms of the Sussex-sponsored keynote speaker, the Toms are thinking about Naomi Klein. The Subcom thought this was an excellent idea, with Paul W adding the caveat that speakers who are not full-time academics sometimes charge extraordinary fees and it is important to clarify what kind of keynote is expected for the occasion. The Exec was also cautiously enthusiastic about this suggestion.
|Action Point: PW to email Bevan and Celester to invite dialogue over JAS speaker|
5) BAAS 2021
- Strong expressions of interest have been received from Hull and Keele.
|Action Point: PW to recirculate information about bidding process to BAAS membership via weekly email briefing|
6) BAAS Postgraduate Conference
- Update on PG Conference in Essex 2017 (KWB):
- The conference theme will be ‘We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident’: Post-Truth and US Myths. Before the Subcom Kat WB circulated a draft CFP / report from Maria-Irina Popescu and Jessica Houlihan (the conference organisers) for comment.
|Action Point: All members to promote opportunity for PGs to be USSO-sponsored keynote at PG Conference|
- The conference organisers have been impressively organised, attracting funding from a variety of sources and producing a well-developed (albeit incomplete) budget.
- The conference will run over two days, 25 and 26 November, with the first day dedicated to American Studies and the second day focused on professionalization and funded by CHASE.
- Members of the Exec are encouraged to attend the PG Conference; Kate D. is sitting on the Activism and Academia roundtable and the attendance of other members of the Exec would be covered by BAAS.
- The Subcom unanimously agreed to fund the PG Conference £500.
|Action Point: CR to transfer money to PG Conference organisers|
- The Subcom agreed to look again at the application rubric for the BAAS-IAAS reciprocal conference bursary to ensure that applicants can actually attend both the conferences covered by the scheme.
|Action Point: KWB to revise wording of the BAAS-IAAS PG Conference Bursary|
- Kat WB has received contact information for the current IAAS PG reps and will make inquiries about holding a joint BAAS-IAAS conference in Ireland in 2018.
|Action Point: KWB to contact IAAS PG reps about a PG IBAAS 2018|
7) Small Conference Support Grant
- PW reported on the April 2017 round of applications:
- It was agreed that the scheme would have £3000 to spend in 2017, covering two rounds of award-giving.
- 6 awards were made in April for a total of £1650.
8) Briefing Notes
- Paul Williams circulated a draft version of the briefing document for the BAAS conference organisers and will make revisions following feedback.
|Action Point: PW to place revised document on Conference Organisers’ Dropbox and make regular changes|
- Awards Subcommittee (SH reporting)
The 2016/17 awards season has now come to a successful conclusion and SH once again, thanked everyone for their help).
It became clear during the judging last year that applications for travel awards from postgraduates and ECRs are difficult, if not impossible, to compare in a fair manner. To ensure both fairness and continued support for ECRs, the Awards Subcommittee would like to suggest that we create a specific ECR travel award (differentiated from the Founders Travel awards and the PG awards).
|Agreed: five named awards, plus 3 unnamed for PGRs, plus 2 ECRs, plus 4 Founders awards (one to ECR). Definition of ECR (within five years of PhD – research council definition).|
SH to look at the composition of judging panels for the next round of awards
The Awards Subcommittee is hoping to include in the 2017/18 round of applications an equal opportunities monitoring form so that we can use the information for E&D purposes and identify where more work might be done to encourage colleagues from particular constituencies to apply for the awards. Any suggestions of good or bad examples to consider would be welcome.
No report. London 2018 plans were covered under Conferences (above).
- Any Other Business
- Date of next meeting: TBA
Secretary: Professor Sylvia Ellis / Email: Sylvia/ Phone: 01913 342570