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

British Association for American Studies


AGM 2006


AGM 2006

BAAS 2006 Annual General Meeting

Minutes of the 2006 Annual General Meeting, held at University of Kent on April 22, 2006.

Treasurer Graham Thompson (to 2009)
Committee Martin Halliwell (to 2009)
Theresa Saxon (to 2009)
Ian Scott (to 2009)*
Postgraduate Rep Josephine Metcalfe (to 2008)*

*Not eligible for re-election

The Treasurer reported that there was a successful handover meeting in June 2005 when he received the full set of documents from Nick Selby, the previous Treasurer. However, getting bank details changed caused some unnecessary delays. GT reported that the 2004 accounts have been submitted as required to the Charity Commission.

GT reported on membership figures; there were 575 members at end of 2005, including 202 postgraduates; current numbers are somewhat lower because individuals do not always renew at the beginning of the year. Including those who have yet to update their standing orders, membership stands at 470; however, individuals who have not updated their standing orders to the correct amount will not receive JAS and are technically not eligible for BAAS rates of conference, nor are they eligible to vote in the elections. GT will shortly write to all individuals who are currently in this position to remind them to update their SOs.

GT then circulated copies of the draft audited accounts, which he asked the AGM to approve. He noted in particular the following changes:

1) Last year was the first year of distributing hard copy of JAS to members and this had an impact on the accounts in terms of outgoings.

2) The 50 th anniversary conference was more expensive than previous conferences, but a lot of the increase in costs was covered by incoming money from the US Embassy. BAAS had paid conference fees for visiting students from Virginia and New Hampshire last year to offer evidence of our ongoing relationship with these universities; we have BAAS Teaching Assistantships there. GT also noted that there had been an increase in support for a variety of conferences in order to encourage the growth and sustenance of American Studies in the UK.

3) GT also noted that in previous years, the accountant had expressed some concern about the fact that our outgoings were not as high as our balances; however, due to the proactive nature of the Committee this year in funding special initiatives, this was no longer seen to be an issue.

Richard Crockatt proposed that the accounts be approved; George Conyne seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

GT reported that the Committee had proposed to raise the amount of STAs to £750 next year to take into consideration rising costs of flights to US. This was welcomed.

GT noted two further issues. First, overseas scholars who wished to be members of BAAS sometimes found it hard to secure US dollar or sterling cheques. Thus from this year, an electronic payment system will be set up as an optional way of paying; individuals choosing to pay their subscriptions this way will face a small additional charge. GT also noted that he was in the process of claiming back GiftAid; BAAS had purchased a software system to accumulate the correct information to allow us to make a claim this year.

The Chair was unable to attend in person, but Carol Smith, the Vice Chair, read out Simon Newman’s report. The report noted that the 50 th year of BAAS had been a good year. In the run-up to the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, BAAS members have secured a large number and wide variety of research awards; been appointed to new academic posts; and have published monographs, essays and articles with an impressive array of international presses. Congratulations were extended to the following BAAS members in relation to appointments, promotions, and awards.

1) Martin Halliwell, who was appointed to a chair in American Studies at Leicester; Brian Ward (currently at Florida) to a chair in American Studies at the University of Manchester; Peter Ling and Sharon Monteith to chairs in American Studies at Nottingham; Bridget Bennet to a chair in American Literature at Leeds; and Susan Castillo to a chair in American Studies at King’s College, London.

2) David Seed of the University of Liverpool was appointed to the AHRC Postgraduate Panel for English Language and Literature; Martin Halliwell, Heidi Macpherson, Richard Crockatt, and Sharon Monteith were appointed members of the AHRC Peer Review College; and Jay Kleinberg was appointed a member of the International Board of the American Studies Association.

3) Peter Ling at Nottingham has received a large AHRC grant for his project on “Social Capital and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference”, which will include two PhD studentships and a postdoctoral research assistantship. In fact, BAAS members have secured support for their research from virtually every major British grant-giving institution, including AHRC Research Leave Awards and research grants; British Academy Small and Larger Research Grants; and awards from the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the Carnegie Trust. Further afield BAAS members have secured fellowships and research awards from such major institutions as the Library of Congress, the John Carter Brown Library, and Harvard University.

The report noted that although relatively few American Studies departments will be entered for RAE 2008 under American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies, and although interdisciplinary American Studies projects sometimes fall between the disciplinary categories of the British Academy and the AHRC, the large academic and postgraduate membership of Britain’s American Studies community continue to excel in their scholarship. The awards made after the Conference Banquet reflect a tangible way in which BAAS can support and reward excellent work and innovative research: these depend upon the continued support of the BAAS membership.

The BAAS Executive Committee continue to work to support this academic community, and to protect its best interests. This includes a good deal of work with the media, as the public face or voice of British American Studies, and committee members have been interviewed by a range of radio, television and newspaper journalists in the UK and abroad. Committee members represent BAAS and the American Studies community at conferences and events around the world, including the annual conferences of the American Studies Association and the International American Studies Association.

In a variety of ways, BAAS works hard to provide opportunities for members at conferences, through publishing outlets, and through an increasing number of fellowships and awards. BAAS sponsors postgraduate conferences and regional conferences, helping make it possible for postgraduate students to attend and to present what are often their first conference papers. BAAS’s on-line, peer-reviewed postgraduate journal U.S. Studies Online, now edited by Elizabeth Rosen, has emerged as an excellent academic journal, and editor Jay Kleinberg and Associate Editor Susan Castillo continue to confirm the status of the Journal of American Studies as a world-leading publication. The BAAS paperbacks series published by Edinburgh University Press and edited by Carol Smith and Simon Newman is expanding, with healthy sales of a wide variety of books.

Furthermore, members of the BAAS Committee regularly respond to a variety of questionnaires, initiatives and other documents and policies that require responses in order to protect the interests of the American Studies community. Over the past year this has included a good deal of work in communications with the organizers of RAE 2008; with the QAA in regard to subject benchmarking; with the AHRC with regard to doctoral research, nominations for the Peer Review College, and AHRC participation in the ESF European Reference Index for the Humanities.

The Executive Committee enjoys an excellent working relationship with the staff of the US Embassy in London, and we were delighted to have Ambassador Tuttle as our guest at yesterday’s banquet, where he was able to give awards supported by the Embassy. Over the past year we have been working closely with Sue Wedlake, Cultural Affairs Assistant at the Embassy, but also with new staff members including Rick Roberts (Minister Counselor for Public Affairs), Michael Macey (Cultural Attaché) and Beth Poisson (Press Counselor). We are fortunate to work with embassy staff who are genuinely interested in academic research and teaching, and who are happy to support a wide range of projects.

On behalf of BAAS, the Chair’s report publicly thanked members of the BAAS Executive Committee and the various sub-committees for all of the hard work done on top of full time academic posts, often with little support from their universities: Heidi Macpherson (Secretary); Graham Thompson (Treasurer); Carol Smith (Vice-Chair and Chair of the Publications Sub-committee); Ian Scott (Chair of the Development Sub-committee); Sarah MacLachlan (Chair of the Conference sub-committee); committee members Kathryn Cooper, Richard Crockatt, Jude Davies, Clare Elliott, Will Kaufman, Jay Kleinberg, Catherine Morley, Martin Padget, Ian Ralston, Jenel Virden, and Tim Woods. Thanks also to ex-officio subcommittee members George Conyne, Martin Halliwell, George Lewis, and Ken Morgan, and the members of the hard-working Libraries and Resources committee under Ian Ralston. The report closed by thanking George Conyne and his colleagues and the support staff at the University of Kent, for all of their hard work in organizing an excellent conference. This annual event continues to be an excellent showcase for Britain’s American Studies community, and the kind of socially enjoyable occasion that makes the intellectual and academic dimensions all the more enjoyable.

The report was followed by a round of applause from the members who were present.

Sarah MacLachlan offered a short report and formally thanked George Conyne for organizing this year’s conference, which had been stimulating, with two excellent plenaries from Michael Zuckerman and Margaret Walsh. She noted that the Executive and the membership were looking forward to Michael Bérubé ‘s plenary address after the AGM. SM reported that next year’s conference dates were 19-22 April and it would be held at the University of Leicester; thanks were extended to the Vice Chancellor for hosting the reception on the first evening of the conference. George Lewis and Martin Halliwell would be acting as Conference Secretaries for the event, and a call for papers would be distributed shortly in addition to the CFP in the conference pack. The 2008 conference will be held at Edinburgh University, 27-30 March, organized by Robert Mason and that the 2009 conference will be held at Nottingham and organized by Graham Thompson. SM reported that negotiations are underway for the 2010 conference and that the successful applicant will be announced shortly. SM then invited suggestions for future conferences.

Carol Smith reminded the AGM that minutes of all meetings are published on the website, and so individuals may keep updated about current activities that way. She then reported on some of the highlights of the year in relation to the Publication Subcommittee. In relation to BRRAM, Ken Morgan continued to negotiate with various sources, including the House of Commons and Lords, Beaverbrook and Lloyd F. George; the Edward Long papers will be published shortly. BRRAM and BAAS signed a new contract this year; in exchange for advertisement space in ASIB, BRRAM now offers all BAAS members a 10% discount.

CS noted apologies from the JAS editor, Jay Kleinberg, who could not attend the conference, and she reported that the main business of the subcommittee this year had been the appointment of a new editor and associate editor. Following the normal BAAS and CUP procedures, Prof. Susan Castillo (Kings College London) would take up the editorship on 1 January 2007 and Prof. Scott Lucas (Birmingham) would become Associate Editor. Thanks were extended to the present editorial team (Jay Kleinberg and Susan Castillo) for their continued steering of such a prestigious journal. They received a round of applause. Thanks were also extended to the editorial assistants, Maggie Selby and John Matlin.

CS reported that the EUP series continues to do well, with two books in the series recently published: Niall Palmer’s The Twenties in America and Will Kaufman’s The Civil War in American Culture. CS offered her thanks to those who responded to the call for new books which had been published in various sources, and reported that there are currently discussions ongoing in relation to the following topics: theatre; African-American music; the short story; and science fiction and television. CS and SN remain interested in hearing from anyone with an idea for a new book in the series.

CS reported that Catherine Morley had finished her first year as editor of ASIB, and that the newsletter continued to be an excellent source of information for members. The next deadline is 15 August 2006 if anyone had articles or notices that they wanted to include. Another new editor this year was Elizabeth Rosen, who finished her first year as the editor of U.S. Studies Online, the BAAS postgraduate journal which publishes essays from British and non-UK based postgraduates; this year, a new CFP went out through the UPenn list and the response had been very high. There were some changes to the editorial board this year, with Douglas Tallack resigned as editorial board member and being replaced by Will Kaufman and Jude Davies.

CS reported that the BAAS website goes from strength to strength: 4 April 2006 saw the highest ever number of unique hits in one day, totalling 1596.

As a final note, CS reported that the 2006 BAAS Book Prize had been won by Richard Follett, as announced at the Conference Banquet. CS noted that the book prize was an excellent way to promote American Studies, and she asked that individuals remind their publishers of the strict December deadline for receipt of books, since late material cannot be considered. There had been a strong field this year, and it was likely that next year, as the prize becomes even more well known, there would be another good selection of excellent texts to choose from.

IS reported on funding opportunities, postgraduate events, Area Studies networks, and planned changes to the subcommittee for the following year. In particular, he noted that BAAS is happy to receive applications for funding. BAAS has a mission to extend our reach and help to all manner of groups and associations. A new funding form will shortly be available from the website to help individuals target their funding applications.

IS thanked Clare Elliott for all of her hard work as postgraduate representative, and noted that the 2005 postgraduate conference, held at Sheffield, was a big success; thanks were extended to Anne Marie Evans and Elizabeth Boyle. IS reported that the next postgraduate conference will be held in Nottingham in November and that information on this conference is already available on the web. IS reported that there were ongoing discussions about extending the postgraduate conference over two days, which speaks to the range and quality of the work currently being done by postgraduates.

IS reported that he sits on the Area Studies subcommittee of the LLAS as the BAAS representative, and he paid tribute to the work done by the Area Studies subcommittee, especially Dick Ellis and Jude Davies who coordinate the work on publicity. There are plans to work with them on publicity materials for teachers.

IS reported that there will be a substantial change this year to the subcommittee structure for BAAS, with a new subcommittee proposed: the Prize Subcommittee. This is work that was originally undertaken by the Development subcommittee, but prizes have become a much bigger part of what BAAS does. This year, there were around 28 awards with a total value of over £30K, as opposed to a few years ago, when BAAS had 6 awards worth about £1400. Thus in order to manage and extend the prizes without detriment to the other work done by the Development subcommittee, it was agreed that there would now be two different subcommittees. Further publicity about the prizes would soon follow. IS thanked the US Embassy, in particular Sue Wedlake, for their help, as well as individuals who had been anonymous judges of the various awards. Thanks were also extended to those BAAS members who offer financial support for the STAs and other awards through voluntary contributions.

Libraries and Resources:
IR reported that the revamped libraries’ newsletter, now the annual journal Resources for American Studies, had been successfully relaunched. This year’s issue of the journal will be distributed to all BAAS members along with the autumn publication of ASIB. The editors welcome feedback and responses; anyone with articles or resource reviews should please send them to the editor, Matthew Shaw, at the British Library. His email address is

The subcommittee is also seeking feedback from members on the next project, to build on success of newspaper database. A request from Kevin Halliwell, the special projects officer, went out on the mailbase regarding what the next database should examine. IR asked members to reply to this call, and noted that it would be reissued. IR also noted that there were two new members of the subcommittee: Donald Tate, from the University of Glasgow Library, and Catherine Morley, from Oxford Brookes. IR offered thanks to all members of the subcommittee, in particular Matthew Shaw, who had put in a phenomenal amount of work as editor of the journal; and Sue Wedlake, the Public Affairs officer at US Embassy, who had been a good friend to the subcommittee.

JV offered a report on EAAS, and noted that she will be contributing to the next issue of ASIB with even more information about EAAS, what it does, and what members can do for it. JV reported that the EAAS Board met at Nicosia in Cyprus during the conference, which was held 6-10 April, 2006. The Treasurer, Hans-Jürgen Grabbe, noted that the accounts remain healthy at about 20,000 euros. JV also reported that there is an Amsterdam trust fund, which generates 6-8,000 a year.

JV noted that the first volume of EJAS is now online, and on behalf of BAAS, she thanked Dick Ellis who wrote the BAAS contribution. The EAAS Board selected a committee of 7 to run on line journal, and the editor will be chosen at the next meeting of the committee, later in April. JV suggested that members continue to consult the updated website, She also reported that the American Studies in Europe Newsletter is now fully electronic. The new Vice president, Martin Heusser, will run the newsletter as per normal practice. JV was pleased to report that the EAAS webmaster had commended BAAS’s website.

JV reported that EAAS has received a request from the Bulgaria American Studies Association (BASA) to join EAAS. The EAAS board is now 20 members strong, so it needs to find a way to coordinate new membership, especially as some associations are small. Germany, France and UK are the biggest ones. There have been suggestions for Regional associations like the Nordic Association, but there are some historical and political concerns that need to be worked through for this to become viable. JV will put together a talking point paper for discussion about this at next board meeting.

JV reported on future conferences: the next will be held 9-12 May 2008 in Oslo, hosted by the Nordic Association; the later date is to take account of Scandinavian weather patterns. The theme, yet to be finalized, is “e pluribus unum OR e pluribus plura.” The following conference, in 2010, will be held at the Clinton Institute, University College Dublin. JV reported that the conference proceedings for both the Bordeaux and the Prague conferences are now out. The latter proceedings, America in the Course of Human Events, include contributions from BAAS members, such as Carol Smith. There is ongoing discussion about the next set of proceedings, including options for ensuring more coherence, and the possibility that a new publisher will be approached.

The Nicosia conference had 220 delegates and a good range of papers and topics. However, it was pointed out that there had not been a single plenary or parallel lecture by a woman delegate. Partly in response to this, a new woman’s caucus will be forming.

JV reported that like BAAS, EAAS also gives out awards and prizes. However, there was a disappointing response rate, with only 5 applications for postgraduate travel grants, and none of them from the UK. JV has agreed to put together a list of postgraduate reps in other EAAS associations, though she noted that many did not have such a representative yet.

Finally, JV reported that elections had taken place, and Martin Heusser (Switzerland) was elected Vice President, and Jenel Virden had been elected Secretary General.

Iain Patterson announced that Michael Heale was unwell and unable to attend the conference, the first he has missed in 40 years. Good wishes for a speedy recovery were extended to him, and the Secretary agreed to send a card on behalf of the Association.

The AGM concluded at 3pm.