Promoting, supporting and encouraging the study of the United States since 1955

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 237


Meeting 237

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: January 9, 2004

Minutes of the 237th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at US Embassy on January 9, 2004.

1. Present

P Davies (Chair), J Beer (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), N Selby (Treasurer), J Davies, J. Kleinberg, C Morley, S Newman, I Scott, C Smith, G Thompson, J Virden, T Woods

In Attendance: S Wedlake

Apologies: S Castillo, K Cooper, S MacLachlan, I Ralston, P Thompson

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

After correction of minor typographical errors, the minutes of the 236th meeting were accepted as a true record and will now be posted on the website.

3. Matters Arising

PD asked the Committee to revisit item 5h under the Secretary’s business and outlined some reservations. Because we are a Charity, BAAS cannot pay benefits to trustees. BAAS offers, if necessary, to pay for postgraduate and teacher members of the executive to attend the conference, for policy reasons. The proposal recorded in item 5h creates an annual expenditure that cannot be controlled by the Treasurer. PD argued that members would be unhappy with this sort of expenditure. JB responded that three members of the Committee have no choice about attendance: Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, because the AGM cannot function without them. Thus, if attendance is part of their tenure, then BAAS should support these officers if their Universities do not. CS seconded this proposal, and the Committee as a whole agreed to restrict any assistance to the officers, with a clear directive that this option should only be used as a last resort.

4. Chair’s Business

A) The Chair circulated correspondence received, which included the following: British Academy Review, Roosevelt Review (from the Netherlands), Higher Quality (QAA’s October issue), Atlas, bulletin of Area Studies part of LTSN, LLAS Notes also from LTSN.

B) PD attended the American Studies postgraduate conference at IUSS (25/10/03) and the Area Studies inaugural meeting (UKCASA) (5/11/03). JD also attended. With colleagues’ support, PD has been nominated for Chair of United Kingdom Council of Area Studies Associations (UKCASA); elections will be held on 5/2/04. PD reported that UKCASA’s draft Constitution was based on the BAAS constitution.

C) PD also attended the SASA conference at Stirling (21/11/03) and reported favourably on the programme, which was full and of good quality, and noted that the conference was well attended.

D) PD reported on his attendance of the IUSS Advisory board on 26/11/03. As has been reported in the Press, the University of London has decided to merge IUSS and ILAS into an Institute for the Study of the Americas, with Prof. James Dunkerley taking on the role of the Director. Prof. Dunkerley is planning to visit AS colleagues around country, and other posts are to be advertised soon. SN suggested BAAS formally invite him to attend the conference; the Committee agreed. NS reported that he has already been in touch about BAAS membership.

E) PD also attended the College of Academicians, ALSISS, Association of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences meeting on 8/12/03, and the American Politics Group conference in Oxford on 2-3/1/04; about 40 delegates attended the conference.

F) PD addressed the JAS/CUP proposals circulated by email last week. After the last meeting, which PD could not attend, PD discussed ideas for ways forward with Joe Mottershead. Four possibilities were considered: leaving things way they are; including JAS as part of the BAAS subscriptions in hard copy; electronic access; and offering members a gift of JAS. It was noted that most professional organisations have a journal as part of their membership. The Committee would like the AGM to be presented with the option of including JAS hard copy subscription in BAAS Membership. PD was asked to discuss the matter further with CUP with the target of bringing an appropriate proposal to the AGM.

G) PD closed by thanking Sue Wedlake and the Embassy for inviting BAAS to have their meeting there and for providing lunch.

5. Secretary’s Business

A) The Secretary circulated correspondence received, including an email from the Charity Commission about its electronic newsletter; a letter notifying us that the BAAS proposal for ring-fenced awards had not been successful; information about the American Studies Research Portal, and the minutes of the last BLARS meeting.

B) HM reported that actions taken since the last meeting included periodic updating of information and records for national surveys; continuing to add names to the externals list; distribution of calls for papers and requests for information to the website and the listserve; and assisting members with diverse queries, including information about the short term travel awards.

C) HM noted that libraries and individuals continue to show interest in the BAAS pamphlet series.

D) HM thanked GT for clarifying information on the website regarding the US newspaper database, which has meant a reduction in queries about this.

6. Treasurer’s Business

A) The Treasurer reported that current membership figures stand at 509, 160 of which are postgraduates. The total figure includes 122 who haven’t yet returned renewals for 2004, but it does not include 40 who have not altered standing order mandates and 74 who did not renew last January but whose details we still have on record.

B) NS reported that BAAS balances are as follows: current account, £1107; conference, £4226; library resources, £1101; Educational Development, £1067; STA, £20,378, and Deposit, £22,172, making a total of £50,051. (There are additional monies in the RBS Jersey account of £14,548, and in the US dollar account of $1505.04.)

C) NS reported on further attempts to defraud BAAS in the same manner as was reported at the last meeting. Amounts totalling £417.27 had been taken from the General Deposit Account, but Barclays refunded the money on 7/9/03. NS has now instructed Barclays not to accept any payments out of the account, and there have been no further incidents.

D) NS noted that the Leicester MBAAS account has now been closed, with £277.05 paid to BAAS on 1/12/03.

E) NS reported that the Embassy acted quickly in relation to the lost grant request reported on at the previous meeting, and that the grant was subsequently approved. The signed agreement letter contract was returned to the Embassy on 18/11/03, and NS is awaiting the cheque.

F) NS reported he has written to Alun Munslow about the Halifax (old Leeds) Building Society account and is awaiting further correspondence on the matter. The last definite information is that BAAS was given circa £50 interest on the account in 1996. The Committee discussed ways forward, and SW suggested that NS contact Halifax head office with a complaint.

G) NS has requested and is awaiting forms R68 (2000) and R68 (New Gift Aid) from the Inland Revenue to allow us to start claiming Gift Aid.

H) NS reported that he had received correspondence regarding the European Journal of American Culture asking BAAS to explore ways to link the journal with BAAS membership. EJAC had been offered free to members this past year. The Committee felt that this was not a membership benefit but agreed that NS could offer to do a mailshot for them to express thanks for the gift.

7. Conference Subcommittee (TW reporting)

A) Because of time constraints, the Committee agreed to a reordering of the agenda to allow for a full discussion of the Conference subcommittee’s business.

B) TW reported that the majority of the subcommittee’s time was spent looking over information about the MMU conference. It was agreed that the booking form would need to be revised and sent out again. In particular, it was felt that the gap between member and non-member costs should be extended, that the deadline should be extended, and that information about accommodation should be revised. It was acknowledged that the hotel’s deadline was the most important issue, and TW is to pursue this topic with SM.

C) TW reported that the draft conference looked full and interesting, and that adjustments had been made to the times of the plenary addresses. Bharati Mukherjee was confirmed as attending. TW was to liaise with SM about the BAAS teachers’ meeting, the exchange meeting, the Early Americanists’ meeting, and the postgraduate meeting.

D) TW reported that the contact person for the Cambridge conference was still undecided, and this was something that needed to be followed up urgently. TW is to pursue Prof. T Badger on this matter.

E) TW discussed future conference venues. Various institutions had been contacted, and a number of universities expressed interest in future events, but the 2006 conference venue had yet to be confirmed. TW is to contact interested parties for more information.

F) TW reported that he had had discussions with Prof. Dick Ellis regarding the proposed pan-American conference and that Prof. Ellis had suggested approaching the Latin American or Caribbean Area Studies networks. TW is to liaise with ISA and the British Library about venues.

G) SN asked for the minutes to reflect the Committee’s thanks to SM for her hard work in organising the 2004 conference, and her commitment to keeping the costs as low as possible.

8. Development Subcommittee (SN reporting)

A) SN reported that a number of STA awards had made, and extended thanks to the Embassy, and to the STA judges, for their commitment to the process. Although there were fewer applications than in previous years, they were generally of a high quality, and SN was able to notify the successful applicants before Christmas. The list of successful applicants is below:
Leen Maes (Newcastle), the Marcus Cunliffe Award
Julie Atkinson (UEA), the John D. Lees Award
Howard Cunnell (IUSS), the Malcolm Bradbury Award
Neil Sparnon (Anglia Polytechnic University), the Peter Parish Award
Michelle Henley (Cantab)
Mariko Ijima (Oxon)
Aili McConnon (Cantab)
Paul Edwards (Nottingham)
Elizabeth Rosen (UCL)
Andrew Fearnley (Cantab)

B) SN reported that the school teachers’ initiative is going forward. A small group including IR, SN, KC and IS, as well as two teachers from KC’s school, met to discuss ways forward, and SN extended his thanks to them. SN has sent a proposal to the US embassy. The initiative centres on gathering and/or creating American Studies materials for the classroom in order to help with the teaching of American subjects, and on enabling teachers to attend the annual conference.

C) SN reported that interviews for the BAAS Teaching Assistantships had taken place, and that 2 recommendations had gone forward. The successful candidates were John Havard (Leeds) for the University of Virginia award, and Michael Penny (Lancaster) for the University of New Hampshire award. Thanks were extended to the interviewers.

D) SN reported that as a consequence of the successful nature of the programme, Virginia asked for a reciprocal arrangement. The Committee felt that because this was a BAAS arrangement, and not university-specific, such an exchange was not viable. However, it was agreed to explore ways to ensure links; one option was to pay registration and conference fees for a few Virginia and UNH students/staff to attend the 50th anniversary conference, though not travel costs. SN is to explore this further.

E) SN discussed the recent THES article about American Studies and graduate employment prospects, and it was agreed that Committee members should forward examples of American Studies graduate success stories to SN to counteract any negative and unfair assumptions that might be made as a result of the article. SN is to collate and disseminate this information.

F) SN noted that it is important for BAAS to have a larger presence on the Academy of Social Sciences and the Committee should think carefully about nominations to the body.

G) SN reported that the postgraduate conference was a success, and that some of the papers will appear in the next issue of US Studies On Line.

H) SN reported that he will contact people who were awarded the BAAS studentship recommendations and the Ambassador’s Awards and invite them to the conference dinner, which the Committee agreed to fund. SN will also contact the winners of the travel awards and let them know they will be honoured at the Dinner.

9. Publications Subcommittee (JB reporting)

A) JB reported on BRRAM activities, noting in particular that 2 collections are to be released in the next 12 months, and that this is in line with BRRAM expectations. These are the Liverpool Customs Bills (final batch) and the Slebech papers. The market for the series comes primarily from standing orders in the US, which are declining slightly, and Ken Morgan would like the Committee to consider ways to increase the profile of BRRAM. JK has provided KM with advertising rates for JAS and will put a footnote in an upcoming article about the Whitman papers. Anyone on the Committee who has ideas for future projects should contact KM.

B) JB reported that the EUP series is going well and figures were circulated. EUP are happy with current sales figures, and with co-publishing agreements in the US. Guidelines to writers are to be made more specific in line with academic practice.

C) JB noted that the next deadline for ASIB is 15 January and that the next issue will include obituaries of Esmond Wright, Kate Fullbrook, and Mary Eccles. The draft conference programme will also be included.

D) JB reported that the April issue of JAS has been sent to press, and that there are currently around 100 articles a year being submitted to the editor. A special issue is being considered but will go through the normal refereeing process. Several members of the editorial board have terms that are coming to an end, and there was a full discussion of potential new members.

E) JB noted that the website is averaging 160 unique visitors a day. The newsletter is the most popular element, with 48% of visitors accessing it. The second most popular element is the US newspaper database with 13% of visitors viewing it. The contract with the current web provider expires in February, and GT is planning to change to a new company because of the problems with access this year. The website conforms to priority one requirements of the new disability guidelines, and GT will review further changes this summer.

F) JB reported that Issue 4 of US Studies on Line has just been published, and CM is taking over as editor from GT for the next issue, which will include essays from the recent postgraduate conference.

G) JB asked Committee members to notify GT if they would like a BAAS email address.

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee

A) No report was offered as IR was unable to attend, but the Committee was reminded of the date of the next BLARS meeting.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

A) JV reported that problems with the EAAS newsletter have continued. She has corresponded with the editor of the newsletter and various members of the executive, but problems are still ongoing and this led to a full discussion about the membership cost of EAAS. The Committee agreed that the newsletter is the most significant benefit for BAAS members, and felt that BAAS needed to take a firm stance. The issue of delaying payment of the EAAS subscription was raised and debated. The Committee came to the conclusion that JV should seek more information from other EAAS representative before taking potentially adverse steps, and that this discussion would continue through email.

B) JV reported that the EAAS website continues to provide good information, but that the Committee should help advertise information on it, such as deadlines for submission to the newsletter, travel grant deadlines (1ST March) and other relevant information in the absence of the newsletter.

C) JV reported that the Graz proceedings will soon be out, and that the “Stemming the Mississippi” issue has appeared.

12. Fiftieth Anniversary Planning (JV reporting)

A) JV noted that the 50th anniversary CD plans were going ahead, and that Committee members would shortly be asked for their nominations (and an alternative).

B) JV reported that work was still on going on the questionnaire, and that the Embassy may help launch it. SW and JV were planning to go to Cambridge to liaise with the conference representative as soon as the person was confirmed.

C) JV is still welcoming suggestions for the 50th anniversary celebrations.

13. Any Other Business

A) JD reminded colleagues that he is a representative on the advisory board for the LTSN, and would be going to a meeting next week. If any member has an issue to raise, they should let him know.

B) PD asked the Committee to help advertise the 15th March Eccles Centre conference on elections and campaigning. He thanked the Embassy for providing for the plenary speaker.

C) PD noted that the next meeting will be his last as Chair, and that the postgraduate representative member would also be coming to the end of her tenure. Three Committee members’ terms were also up, though each was eligible to stand for re-election if they so desired.

D) PD reported that Tim Woods had received a Personal Chair at Aberystwyth, and the Committee extended congratulations to him.

14. Date of next meeting

15 April at 11am at MMU. Subcommittees will not meet prior to the main meeting, so Chairs should conduct any necessary business by email.

Dr Heidi Macpherson, Secretary
Phone (office): (01772) 893039
Fax: (01772) 892924




Extend invitation to Prof. Dunkerley regarding the MMU conference (ref 4d)



Continue discussions with Cambridge University Press regarding the relationship between JAS and BAAS (ref 4f)


Next meeting

Write to Halifax Building Society with a formal complaint regarding the missing account (ref 6f)



Contact EJAC about the offer of a mailshot (ref 6h)



Discuss changes to the MMU booking form, and remind SM of special meetings (refs 7b and 7c)


Next week

Contact Tony Badger regarding Cambridge Conference contact person (ref 7d)



Pursue interested parties relating to subsequent conferences (ref 7e)



Continue to explore ideas regarding the proposed Pan-American conference (ref 7f)



Explore ways of including UV and UNH colleagues in 50th anniversary celebrations (ref 8d)


Next meeting

Gather information about American Studies graduate success stories (ref 8e)

Committee to report to SN


Consider nominations for Academy of Social Sciences (ref 8f)

Committee, to liaise with PD and SN


Contact successful STA applicants and invite to MMU conference (ref 8h)



Contact KM with ideas for BRRAM, both for new projects and for increasing sales (ref 9a)



Notify GT if a BAAS email address is desired (ref 9g)



Pursue non-receipt of EAAS newsletter with relevant EAAS representative and initiate email discussion (ref 11a)



Publicize key EAAS deadlines (ref 11b)

JV and Committee