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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 239


Meeting 239

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: June 28, 2004

Minutes of the 239th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Clare College, Cambridge on June 28, 2004.

1. Present

S Newman (Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), K Cooper, C Elliott, S MacLachlan, M Padget, I Ralston, I Scott, G Thompson, J Virden

J Davies, C Morley, J Kleinberg, N Selby, C Smith, P Thompson, T Woods

In Attendance
George Conyne, S Meer, S Wedlake

2. Minutes of the Previous Meetings

These were accepted as a true record.

3. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

4. Chair’s Business

A) The Chair began by welcoming the new Executive Committee to the meeting and noting that Carol Smith has been elected Vice Chair through an email vote of the Executive.

B) SN reported the following appointments: Trevor Burnard was appointed Chair of American History at Sussex; Rob Singh was made Professor of US Politics at Birkbeck, and Iwan Morgan was appointed Professor of U.S. Studies at the Institute for the Study of the Americas (effective Oct. 1). Congratulations are extended to each of them.

C) SN reported that he had attended a number of events in his capacity as Chair. Along with JV, he attended a meeting in London with Dan Sbreeny, Dennis Wolf and Sue Wedlake to discuss Embassy support for the BAAS 50th anniversary. He has been invited by the Board of the ASA to join the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize Committee (the ASA prize committee for the best published book in American Studies). He attended lectures by Professor Allan Lichtman of Columbia on presidential elections in Glasgow (sponsored by Scottish North American Business Council and the US Consulate) and in London (sponsored by the US Embassy). The latter event was also attended by Ann Wroe (The Economist), and Martin Rickerd (Team leader of the North American Team in the Foreign Office), who may be interested in BAAS 50th anniversary events and the conference. SN was interviewed by Rebecca Knight of the Financial Times for an article on anti-American sentiment and American mass culture in Europe.

D) SN noted that Prof. Davies is in the process of informing media contacts that he is no longer Chair of BAAS, but PD has been handling media interest in the death of former President Ronald Reagan, and continuing to raise awareness of BAAS in the larger community.

E) SN circulated a copy of PD’s article “The British Association for American Studies at Fifty” in the Contemporary Review.

F) As Chair, SN has corresponded with the following people and organizations: he has written to the IASA in relation to their invitation to join at the cost of 10% of membership fees and is in continuing dialogue with them about other ways forward; he wrote a condolence letter to Ambassador Farish on the death of President Reagan, and he has (with the help of PD) created a new and current mailing list for American Studies heads, and sent them an introductory letter. He has received some replies and corrections for his list.

G) SN reported on a number of endangered American Studies programmes. He has sent more letters protesting the closure of American Studies at Brunel, and circulated information to the Executive Committee and encouraged members to write letters. The US Embassy considered whether they could respond, but decided on balance that it would be inappropriate at this juncture. SN also noted the closure of American Studies at Middlesex and Reading.

H) SN received an email message from Mick Gidley, who believes that in future RAEs, fewer and fewer units of assessment will be submitted under American Studies, and more and more BAAS members will be submitted under History, English, Politics or other areas; thus, BAAS will need to ensure American Studies representation on these other panels. SN reminded the Committee that BAAS has a crucial role in disseminating information about American Studies and ensuring that the full range and extent of American Studies research and teaching is understood and acknowledged, despite the potential shrinkage of American Studies RAE submissions. He also acknowledged that most BAAS members work outside American Studies Departments, and asked the Committee to consider ways of advertising our research successes and strengths. SN noted, for example, the number of American Studies awards we offer, and the necessity of ensuring that non-American Studies Departments are fully aware of the prestige of these awards. In addition, the annual conference is growing every year, which indicates the health of the American Studies field. IS noted that American Studies may be changing as a result of changes in the state of higher education in Britain and argued that what we are currently witnessing has more to do with administrative streamlining than with the health of discipline.

I) In relation to RAE 2008, the Chair submitted the official BAAS response on the Panel Structure and Configuration document, along with a similar one from UKCASA, and from a number of American Studies Executive Committee members and programme heads. He received copies of others from various universities and academic organizations (e.g., Council of Deans of Arts and Humanities), all endorsing the BAAS response. Diana Jones, Research Policy Officer at HEFCE, wrote on 8 June: “Robust arguments were presented by an organized lobby of concerned parties to amend the name of UoA 48 for American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies in line with current research practice. We propose to make the recommended change.”

J) SN met with Shelley Fisher Fishkin, President of the ASA, who is committed to the internationalization of American Studies. She has invited editors, programme heads and association heads to the 2004 ASA conference in Atlanta in November. SFF is interested in encouraging transatlantic research projects, and has some funds to establish formal links between US universities and others around the world.

K) SN reported that Jude Davies has been nominated for the library and resource committee, and has agreed to stand. The Committee approved his nomination.

5. Secretary’s Business

A) The Secretary circulated correspondence received, including the BLARS minutes; information from the Academy of Social Sciences AGM and other minutes; and the Charities Commission E-newsletter (previously circulated by email).
B) HM reported on actions taken as Secretary, noting that her main role continues to revolve around information flow, but that the post-conference period had been quieter than the rest of the year. She has updated BAAS records with national surveys; distributed calls for papers and conferences, and other information through the listserve; sent updated information to GT as webster regarding the Executive Committee; updated BAAS records with the Charity Commission and passed the information to the Treasurer to finalize in relation to the accounts; continued to add to the externals’ list; and facilitated discussions about the revival of the Northwest branch of BAAS. She has also been in contact with the BBC regarding programmes with an American Studies slant.
C) HM noted that membership queries were on the rise, particularly from lapsed members, which again shows the health of the American Studies community. These queries were forwarded to the Treasurer for action.

6. Treasurer’s Business

A) NS was unable to attend the meeting, but sent a report which was circulated to the Committee. Membership figures stand at 550 members, 179 of which are postgraduates.

B) Balances on 24/06/04 are as follows: Current account: £750, Conference £9626, Lib. Res. £1091, Ed. Development: £169, STA £20,621, Deposit £19,140, making a total of £51,397. In addition, the RBS Jersey has £14,665.85, and US dollar account has $2406.

C) NS has paid the UKCASA subscription referenced in 4g of the minutes from the 238th meeting of the Executive Committee.

D) NS has received the final materials from the Midlands BAAS account from Elizabeth Clapp and has forwarded them to the accountants.

E) NS is liaising with Joe Mottershead of CUP on the JAS/membership offer and will be sending him a list of fully paid up members on Tuesday 29th June for the first free issue of JAS. CUP is sorting out refunds for those members already subscribing at £30/year.

F) NS pursued the option of direct debit collection of subscriptions, but it is not feasible at this time. However, it may be possible to offer web-based payment by debit or credit card. NS noted that there are charges or fees involved, but will pursue this further and report at the next meeting.

G) NS spoke to Masoud Yazdani immediately following the last Executive Committee meeting and will contact him again about the offer of EJAC to BAAS members at £10/year. There may be an opportunity to advertise this in the next issue of ASIB.

H) NS is still awaiting further information about the Halifax (old Leeds) Building Society account and his report had attached to it a letter sent to them.

I) NS is still pursuing Gift Aid options with the Inland Revenue.

7. Development Subcommittee (IS reporting)

A) IS reported that he wrote a letter to Sarah Jane Mayhew at the US Embassy reporting on the Ambassador’s Awards for 2004, and offering our gratitude for their support, generous funding and help in distributing the awards. IS reported that BAAS spent £2800 last year on the awards themselves and publicity, and aims to undertake similar publicity this year, including a poster campaign. The subcommittee discussed how to boost the number of submissions, and IS wants to put together some documents encouraging colleagues in programmes around the country to think about existing courses and the work that is to be produced this year (first semester work). IS noted the mid-December closing date, and reported that the subcommittee has considered an additional school award as a way to link into the schools’ initiative. He would welcome other ideas for marketing and asked about the feasibility of a prize committee. Because of the standing orders regarding who should be judges for these prizes, it was not considered necessary to pursue this further. IS reported that the subcommittee considered how best to celebrate the 50th anniversary and is considering ways of boosting the number or amount of existing awards. Arrangements are underway to write to the Embassy for funding and to recruit separate judges and panellists for the STAs and for the Ambassador’s Awards. SW reminded IS that the Embassy’s bid deadline is the beginning of August. There was some discussion about proposing £1000 STAs in honour of the 50th anniversary. It was agreed that the literature (web and paper based) regarding the STAs should be updated to take into account the move from £400 to £500 as agreed at a previous meeting.

B) IS noted for information that the School Teachers’ initiative is proceeding well. There is a meeting scheduled in a couple of weeks: IR, IS and KC plus 3 other reps will meet to put together proposals in relation to the web-based initiative for 6th form teachers on American subjects. There are plans for another meeting later in the year, with some hopes to include this initiative in the Cambridge conference. There are also ongoing discussions with American teachers about liaising with British teachers, and eventually establishing teaching exchanges.

C) CE reported back on positive feedback from postgraduates on the MMU conference and on postgraduate development around the country. It was noted that BAAS Northwest is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, and there is likely to be information for postgraduates included.

D) IS noted that the subcommittee had considered two funding applications and recommended that the Committee approve them. The first was from Phil Davies for the Eccles’ Centre 6th form conference on 12th October on elections. PD requested a £50 honorarium for each of the 4 domestic speakers, for a total of £200. The Committee approved this application. The second application was from Ian Ralston, for an elections conference on 13th October, sponsored by the American Studies Centre. IR asked for £200 for speakers’ expenses. This was also approved.

E) GT asked about the Ambassador’s Awards and urged the subcommittee to issue a more general call for submissions rather than restricting it to a specific topic, as had been agreed for 2004. SN reported that both the BAAS Postgraduate Essay Prize and the postgraduate Ambassador’s Award were prestigious. More funds were attached to the Ambassador’s Award, but the Essay Prize was offered automatic consideration for JAS.

8. Publications Subcommittee (HM reporting on behalf of CS)

A) HM reported that KM had sent an email report on BRRAM. KM is planning to meet Roderic Vassie; the new contact at Microform Academic Publishers (replacing Paul Knights), shortly and will report this at the next meeting.

B) HM noted that EUP remain happy with the BAAS series, and there is a good range currently in production, under contract, or under consideration. Currently in production is Mark Newman’s book on the Civil Rights Movement (to be published in July). Books under contract include Religion in America from 1865 to the Present; Immigration to America; The Twenties in America; Native American Literature and The Civil War in American Culture. There are proposals due on the city, Black masculinities, the short story, Native American history, Colonial America, popular music, the Black Atlantic, and the American Revolution. New areas to cover include 1st World War; Post 1960s; TV, and the sub-genres of literature (poetry, drama, etc.). Nicky Carr is undertaking some market research over the summer to look at what new areas need to be explored.

C) The Committee approved a nomination to the JAS editorial board. In addition, it was noted that new protocols have been finalized in relation to JAS/CUP and BAAS, which will be filed with the Secretary’s minutes.

D) The next deadline for ASIB is 1st August for the September issue. It will include information on the conference, as well as reviews of the Edward Hopper exhibition. The web page is being redesigned over the summer to take account of disability legislation.

E) The subcommittee offered thanks to Prof. Janet Beer for all her work on the Committee.

9. Conference Subcommittee (JV reporting on behalf of TW)

A) JV reported on the progress on the BAAS 2005 conference. JV and SW had met earlier in the month with Tony Badger, Ann Holton, Sarah Meer and Cara Sheehan at Robinson College, for a very helpful examination of the conference facilities. JV reported that all rooms are en suite.

B) JV noted that in the subcommittee, SM had outlined a proposal in relation to panel sessions and the programme, and proposed having fewer panels than at Manchester and fewer papers. This led to a full debate, and it was agreed that expansion should be considered as appropriate. There was sustained discussion about whether to advertise a day rate, and it was agreed that this could be arranged at a standard rate with the Conference Secretary, but that it would not be officially advertised.

C) JV reported that poster sessions, the book display and coffee/tea would be placed in the same place or in areas close to each other. A number of keynote speakers were discussed.

D) JV reported that the banquet would take place on the Friday night, and that there are some open sessions/hours on the timetable at present to allow for flexibility; the conference will finish after lunch on Sunday. There are continuing discussions about pursuing links with Fullbright.

E) JV noted that the maximum accommodation is 270 with no overflow planned for as yet; others would have to arrange their own accommodation. There are 10 rooms with double occupancy. SN raised the issue of numbers being significantly higher because of the site (Cambridge) and the 50th anniversary, and asked S Meer to negotiate with other colleges, noting that we could hire a postgraduate in another college to help out SW has contacts with Wolfson College (10 minutes walk) which she will explore.

F) SM is to liaise with SMc on costings and banking. Overall costs per BAAS delegate on a fully residential basis is £335. The Committee gratefully acknowledges the Mellon Subsidy, and Professor Badger’s and SM’s hard work in raising funds to support the 50th anniversary conference. JV noted that there are still a number of issues to pursue, including additional funding, Embassy funding and postgraduates, sponsorship, and entertainment. The postgraduate rate is still under discussion.

G) JV reported that progress on the 50th anniversary events are ongoing. There had been a proposal to have a history of the discipline as a plenary, but it was agreed that this would work better as a proposed panel.

H) JV noted that a programme committee had been proposed to help read paper and panel proposals and ensure a balance of topics, coherence, and postgraduate involvement; SM agreed that this was a way forward, and welcomed the offer of assistance from the Executive Committee: TW and SMc will take a lead here.

I) JV noted that regretfully, other items on the agenda were not able to be fully discussed because the subcommittee wanted to discuss as fully as possible the plans for the 2005 conference. Thus proposals for the 2007 and 2008 conferences will be explored in the autumn meeting.

J) SMc reported that final figures from Manchester will be available at the autumn meeting. She did note her concern about costs for the Cambridge conference, particularly if additional funding is not forthcoming. SN noted that support is crucial, and reiterated the fact that costs for BAAS members could go no higher than what has already been proposed.

K) GT raised issues about the racial make up of the conference, noting that he had been asked by BAAS members to address the issue. A considered discussion followed about why American Studies as a forum is not making significant inroads in the area of ethnicity, despite its centrality to the discipline. SMc raised the issue of schools, multiculturalism and widening participation. It was agreed that this issue should form the basis of an article or roundtable discussion in ASIB.

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (IR reporting by email)

A) IR was unable to attend the meeting, but sent a report via email which HM read to the Committee. This report noted that the 15th June Cultural Artefacts and American Studies conference had had to be cancelled because of the poor level of bookings. There are plans, however, to publish some of the proposed conference papers in the BLARS newsletter. IR noted that the grant for funding from the US Embassy would be returned to them, though they offered thanks to the Embassy and BAAS colleagues for their support.

B) The Subcommittee has agreed to publish the BLARS newsletter annually. The new editor will be Matthew Shaw. A number of Committee members indicated that they wished to receive the newsletter, and the Secretary agreed to contact IR to ensure that all members of the Committee would receive the newsletter in the future. GT would also like an electronic version to publish on the web, as has been the custom in the past.

C) IR’s report noted that the subcommittee has had some additions to it. Matthew Shaw (British Library) has replaced Duncan Heyes on the subcommittee and has taken over the role of Editor (of the BLARS Newsletter.) In addition, Judith Shiel of John Rylands Library (Manchester) and Julia Dagg (Sheffield) have expressed an interest in joining the subcommittee. Richard Bennett (BLARS Secretary) and IR have contacted both and invited them to attend the next meeting in September. IR to confirm membership to the BAAS secretary.

D) IR’s report noted that the subcommittee is planning to propose a poster session on ’50 years of Collecting American Studies’ for the Cambridge conference. The original plan to produce a full exhibition was considered prohibitively expensive and too difficult to organize.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

A) JV reported on ongoing EAAS newsletter discussions, including conflicting information over deadlines for the submission of information. She has sent details of the newly elected members to the EAAS and hopes that they will be published in time. In consultation with the officers of BAAS, JV has indicated to EAAS that BAAS’s preference is for hard copies of the newsletter, and she expects to receive 550 copies of newsletter to be distributed. One suggestion was that it should go with the next issue of ASIB, if the publication dates coincide. This next newsletter is particularly important since it calls for people to put in proposals for parallel lectures and workshop titles to be approved for the EAAS conference.

B) JV noted that she is awaiting information on the number of EAAS representatives who will be attending the BAAS 2005 conference.

C) SN reported that Dennis Wolf has agreed to consider a bid for support for EAAS Committee Members to come to the BAAS 50th anniversary conference.

12. Fiftieth Anniversary Planning (JV reporting)

A) JV reported that SN and JV had visited the Embassy, and had had a helpful and supportive meeting in relation to the 50th anniversary celebrations. They had discussed the launch of the BAAS questionnaire, including getting guests to fill it out. The Embassy has agreed to contact individuals (i.e. celebrities) in our name in relation to these celebrations, and noted that the media might be interested in this. The Embassy might also host a launch event. Other ideas included sponsoring cultural events at the BAAS conference (poetry readings, performances, musicians, etc.). JV and GC noted that these celebrations do not all have to happen during the four days of the Cambridge conference; they can extend throughout the year and include the Kent conference. There was some discussion about getting special blurbs for programme, which JV is going to discuss with SM. It is possible to link these celebrations with other important events, such as the 60th anniversary of WWII or the Fullbright centenary.

B) JV noted that there have been a number of proposals for souvenirs. The latest idea is to commission a commemorative garment, such as a t-shirt or a tie, which could either be given away or sold at the conference to commemorate the anniversary. There are a number of logistical issues to be solved, including proper costings and distribution. SW offered to be in contact with Burro, a fashion designer; this information was presented to the development subcommittee. They could offer us t-shirts wholesale, at £6-£15/shirt. Other ideas include a souvenir mug, or work on a new BAAS logo. The Executive is asked to look at the website and discuss this further at the next meeting.

13. Any Other Business

A) This consisted of reserved items only.

14. Date of next meeting

Saturday 25 September at MMU.

Dr Heidi Macpherson, Secretary.
Phone (office): (01772) 893039 or 893040
Fax: (01772) 892924