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

British Association for American Studies


AGM 2008


AGM 2008

BAAS 2008 Annual General Meeting

Minutes of the 2008 Annual General Meeting, held at University of Edinburgh on March 28, 2008.

Secretary: Catherine Morley (to 2011)
Treasurer: Theresa Saxon (to 2009)†
Committee: Will Kaufman(to 2011)*
Robert Mason (to 2011)
Mark Whalan (to 2011)
Andrew Lawson (to 2009)†
PG Rep: Michael Collins (to 2010)*

*Not eligible for re-election to this position.
†Fulfilling an unexpired term due to a resignation from the office.

The Treasurer circulated copies of the draft audited accounts, which he asked the AGM to approve. As well as the accounts, GT circulated the Trustees’ Report which now takes into account the new regulations (the Charities Act of 2006 and The Statement of Recommended Practice, Accounting and Reporting by Charities [SORP] 2005). The purpose of the new format report is to allow the Charity Commission to see what the charity is doing and its plans for the future, and to make sure that it is fulfilling its public benefit requirements. BAAS has no difficulty in fulfilling the charity definition of public benefit given its focus on education. However, from next year a statement will need to be included in the accounts about how the charity provides public benefit. One of the principles of the public benefit test is that where benefit is to a section of the public, the opportunity to benefit must not be unreasonable restricted by geographical or other restrictions or by ability to pay any fees charged.

GT informed the AGM that the key figure this year is the healthy deficit of £21,503, compared to a surplus of £4515 in 2006. GT reassured the AGM that this was related to spending on the Eccles awards. This is largely due to the fact that BAAS paid out £17,000 in Eccles Centre Awards during 2007, although the money for these awards was received in 2006 and therefore inflated the 2006 accounts. This situation will not occur in 2008, since the Eccles Centre funding will both be received and awarded during the current accounting period. The deficit is also partly due to the fact that all travel awards were increased to £750 from £500 in 2007. Furthermore, other funding (from the US Embassy) for conferences and prizes was down over £8000.

GT noted that subscriptions were up by almost £6000 and he also reported on membership figures; there are currently 523 fully paid up members (including 190 postgraduates), which compares with 435 at this time last year and 384 in April 2006.

Richard Crockatt proposed that the accounts be approved; Nick Selby seconded the motion, and it was carried forward unanimously.

GT reported on progress made with Gift Aid, which has been an ongoing issue over the last few years. Since 2000, membership subscriptions and donations have been eligible for Gift Aid, and BAAS can claim back 22/78th for those who have signed legitimate Gift Aid declarations. However, the audit trail has been uneven for this and as a result, GT sent out letters earlier this year with the new template for Gift Aid declarations. On the basis of the forms back, he has now submitted another claim to the Inland Revenue for £3225.54. In all, combined with the amount claimed last year, it should bring in approximately £8000. This sets the BAAS Gift Aid ready to claim on a rolling basis.

Finally, GT reported that he had issued all BAAS members with membership numbers in Autumn 2007. All members without numbers should contact GT for details.

The Chair offered a comprehensive verbal report, in which she noted that American Studies continues to thrive in the UK, providing opportunities for postgraduates through to professors to pursue interesting areas of intellectual enquiry. She acknowledged that BAAS plays a significant role in this pursuit and dissemination of knowledge on US culture, history, literature, politics, and also underlined how the Association offers both intellectual and financial support for school children, teachers, undergraduates, postgraduates, conference organizers and individual researchers. HM observed that this year alone, BAAS will award 32 prizes worth a total of £41,000. HM gratefully acknowledged the assistance of the US Embassy and also of individual BAAS members who regularly contribute to the Short Term Travel Award funds or who donate anonymously in other ways.

The Chair also discussed the healthy state of American Studies in terms of the anticipated RAE results in American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies, and by the contributions made to RAE submissions in Politics, English, History, and other sub-panels. She noted that American Studies has always extended beyond its boundaries, with American Studies research being carried out in most UK universities, though not always under an explicit American Studies banner. HM reminded the AGM that part of BAAS’s remit is to facilitate the wide circulation of information about American Studies in the UK, and to ensure that the work that our members do receives the exposure that it deserves. She also announced that this year BAAS was able to acknowledge the important work undertaken by Peter Boyle (Nottingham) in relation to setting up the original BAAS Teaching Assistantships by renaming them after him.

The Chair noted that American Studies experts in the UK continue to secure a whole range of awards, fellowships and prizes; for instance, they are selected to serve on AHRC peer review panels, and many have received promotions within their home universities or achieved career progression by moving to other institutions.

Congratulations were extended to the following BAAS members in relation to appointments, promotions and awards.
Neil Campbell has been promoted to Professor of American Studies at Derby; Dick Ellis has been promoted to Professor at Birmingham; Mark Phythian has been appointed as Chair of Politics in the field of international security and global foreign policy at the University of Leicester; Neil Wynn was made Professor of American Studies at the University of Gloucester.
Professor Tim Woods has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Aberystwyth, and Dr. Jenel Virden has been appointed Head of Humanities at Hull.
Dr. Rebecca Earle has been promoted to Reader at Warwick; Dr. George Lewis has been promoted to Reader in American History at Leicester and has been named the new Director of the Centre for American Studies at Leicester starting in January 2009; Dr. Jay Prosser has been promoted to Reader in Humanities at Leeds; and Professor Margaret Walsh (Nottingham) has been awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Professorship.
Professor Martin Halliwell has been invited to join the AHRC Postgraduate Panel 3 (English Language and Literature) for a full three-year term, from 2007 to 2010; Martin has also been appointed Head of the School of English at Leicester from autumn 2008.
BAAS members have received important and high profile AHRC awards in the last year, including Dr Matthew Jones, Professor Peter Messent and Professor Douglas Tallack (all at Nottingham) and Dr. Alan Rice (UCLAN).
Dr. Alan Rice (UCLAN) and Dr. Duco Van Oostrum (Sheffield) were awarded National Teaching Fellowships for their contributions to American Studies.
Dr. Will Kaufman (UCLAN) was awarded a prestigious Woody Guthrie Research Fellowship, which will allow him to spend time in the Guthrie Archives in New York this summer. Many other BAAS members received both small and large grants and awards.

The Chair also noted the sad loss of a long time BAAS member, Dr Robert Harrison (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), who died in May 2007.

The Chair reported to the AGM that she had attended many functions on the community’s behalf over the past year, including inaugural lectures such as Susan Castillo’s at King’s College London, an AHRC event in London in June and another in Edinburgh in October, the UKCASA AGM in December, and the JAS editorial board meeting. The Chair reported that BAAS and JAS continue to work together well, and that there are plans to digitize all of the back issues of JAS in order to aid American Studies scholarship. She also met with Penny Egan, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission, in order to plan ways of working together more closely on areas of mutual interest. The Chair also attended a luncheon with former President Jimmy Carter on 21 June at the Rothermere American Institute where he was offered the George Oglethorpe medal, and the Ambassador’s 4th of July barbeque at Winfield House. She returned to Winfield House on 20 September to meet the new Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, the Honourable Richard LeBaron, the new Minister-Counsellor for Public Affairs, Mr. Barrie Walkley, and the new Defence and Naval Attaché, Rear Admiral Ron Henderson.

The Chair noted that the officers and members of the Executive Committee work extremely hard to protect and enhance American Studies in the UK, aiming to ensure that the voice of American Studies is heard as universities, funding bodies and the government make their decisions. The Executive Committee responds to a variety of consultation exercises, often with little notice. Over the last year, BAAS Committee members have undertaken the following work on behalf of BAAS:

A HEFCE review of specialist library funding;
A consultation on the contribution that BAAS makes to knowledge transfer activities;
The AHRC’s proposals on block grant;
The AHRC’s plans to move to a new panel structure;
A Joseph Rowntree report on Ethical Guidance;
British Library consultations on research outputs in India and China, and on the collection policy of US patents;
A survey on the economic impact of American Studies for a British Academy/LSE project intitled ‘Maximising the Impact of the Humanities and Social Science Research’;
QAA subject benchmarks;
The Eupean Reference Index for the Humanities;
The Research Excellence Framework.

The Chair noted that the Exec also respond, again with short notice, to media requests, finding speakers who are willing to discuss the US elections, the cultural significance of hula hoops, gang violence, the relevance of Flag Day, and other matters. BAAS supports the development of other related organisations and societies, including HOTCUS, Historians of Twentieth Century United States, members of whom are attending this conference, and the Transatlantic Studies Association.

The Chair concluded by thanking members of the BAAS Executive Committee, including Ian Bell, Paul Blackburn, Susan Castillo, Richard Crockatt, Philip Davies, Dick Ellis, Martin Halliwell, Will Kaufman, George Lewis, Sarah MacLachlan, Jo Metcalf, Theresa Saxon, Ian Scott, and most especially the other officers, Jude Davies, Catherine Morley, and Graham Thompson. Thanks were also extended to Sue Wedlake, Michael Macey and Ambassador Tuttle at the Embassy of the United States, for their support of American Studies in Britain. Final thanks were extended to Robert Mason and his colleagues at Edinburgh, for organizing such an excellent conference.

Dr Sarah MacLachlan began her report by acknowledging what a huge success the Edinburgh conference had been so far, and offered public congratulations to Robert Mason and his team for the hard work they had put in before and during the conference. SM noted that this year she had visited the 2009 conference site in Nottingham with Celeste-Marie Bernier, the 2008 Conference Organizer. The conference will be based at the University of Nottingham (16-19 April 2009) and preparations are already well underway. She noted that the call for papers was available in conference packs and members were asked to consider submitting proposals early to allow for planning.

The 2010 conference will be held at the University of East Anglia, organized by Thomas Ruys-Smith. SM also announced that the University of Central Lancashire was now confirmed for the 2011 conference and that Manchester had expressed interested in hosting the 2012 conference. Finally, SM invited suggestions for future conferences.

Professor Martin Halliwell began his verbal report by reminding the AGM that minutes of all meetings are published on the website, so that individuals may keep updated about current activities. He then reported on some of the highlights of the year in relation to the Publications Subcommittee. In relation to BRRAM, new microform releases include ‘Records Relating to the Liverpool Slave Trade in the Liverpool Record Office’ and ‘The American Correspondence of Arthur C. Murray with Franklin D. Roosevelt’. Forthcoming releases will include ‘The Canadian Papers of the 4th Earl of Minto’ and ‘The Manuscripts of Samuel Martin, a sugar planter in C18th Antigua’ (with an introduction by Natalie Zacek from the University of Manchester). MH noted that Professor Ken Morgan continues to be very active in developing the BRRAM catalogue and is looking to expand the number of large American research libraries that have a standing order to take all the BRRAM titles.

In relation to the BAAS EUP series, which is edited by Simon Newman and Carol Smith and EUP Senior Commissioning Editor, Nicola Ramsey, MH noted that the team has been busy in 2008 with the ever-expanding series. New additions to the series are: Mark Hulsether’s book Religion, Culture and Politics in the C20th United States (co-published with Columbia UP) and Rebecca Tillett’s Contemporary Native American Literature. Celeste-Marie Bernier’s book on African American Visual Arts is in press and scheduled for publication in September 2008. SN and CS are always happy to discuss ideas and proposals and ask that interested parties approach them directly.

MH noted that the JAS Editor, Susan Castillo, and Associate Editor, Scott Lucas, have been working very hard in 2008, streamlining the JAS editorial processes, including the introduction of a new manuscript review form for the journal’s reviewers. In 2007 Simon Newman and Carol Smith joined the JAS Editorial Board, followed in early 2008 by Paul Giles. In late 2007 Dr Bevan Sewell took over as Editorial Assistant after a long and diligent stint by John Matlin. Finally on JAS, MH noted that it is planned to have JAS available on JSTOR – likely to be late 2008.

MH reported that Dr Alison Kelly (Rothermere American Institute) took over as Editor of American Studies in Britain from Catherine Morley in summer 2007. Dr. Morley’s last issue as Editor was in autumn 2007 and Dr. Kelly’s first as Editor is the most recent issue (no. 98). MH noted that thanks are due to both Dr. Morley and Dr. Kelly for maintaining this really important publication within the American Studies community. The copy deadline for ASIB Issue 99 is 15 August 2008.

MH informed the AGM that Dr Elizabeth Boyle continues as Editor of US Studies Online. Issue 11 was published in November 2007 and Elizabeth is working on Issue 12 which will include a number of papers first aired at the 2007 Manchester BAAS Postgraduate Conference. There are also plans to move to 3 issues per year (rather than the current 2) in 2008.

MH reported that Dr Graham Thompson has continued to maintain the BAAS Website in 2007-8, in addition to his Treasurer duties. Dr. Thompson has agreed to continue with the website in the short-term, but BAAS members interested in becoming the Web Officer should contact MH. BAAS would be able to supply training for this role.

MH thanked Graham Thompson for his work on the Website and Ms Clare Elliott for her proficient and always easy-to-navigate BAAS web bulletins. Clare has also agreed to continue with this role for the short-term. Finally, MH thanked colleagues on the Publications Subcommittee for the work they have done in 2007-8.

Professor Richard Crockatt began his verbal report by noting that most important issue facing the Development Subcommittee in 2007-8 has been the recruitment challenge faced by the subject nationally. In figures reported to the June 2007 Executive Committee meeting, it was noted that numbers of students entering coded American Studies programmes in 2006 showed a halving of numbers as compared with 1996. The sharpest drop has come since 2003. This is a real challenge for the Development Subcommittee. RC observed that even acknowledging that these figures do not take account of joint programmes or American subjects undertaken as part of degrees in, for example, History, English and Politics, the figures are striking enough to have provoked comment in national newspapers. The subcommittee has responded to this challenge partly through involvement (along with the University of Birmingham) in the production of a CD-Rom ‘Discover American Studies’. (Further details below). RC also noted that, as Chair of the Development Subcommittee, he undertook a survey of heads of departments and programmes about possible use of the CD-Rom for recruitment purposes; he wrote the text for ‘Why American Studies?’ which has been placed on the BAAS website as an aid to recruitment to the subject.

RC offered thanks to the American Embassy for their continued support, noting that in 2007-8 the Embassy had continued its generous support of BAAS activities, in particular for awards and conference support. During summer 2007 the Embassy instituted a new and more rigorous procedure for application for grants, involving a form requesting specific information about items of proposed expenditure rather than general headings. A separate financial form was also required for each grant. In this round of applications, the following grants were applied for and received: the Ambassador’s Awards received £2830; £5000 was made available to facilitate attendance of postgraduates at the annual BAAS Conference; £2050 was granted to support administration and related costs of the BAAS conference. All of these grants amount to a grand total of £9880 in Embassy support.

RC noted that much time and energy had gone into the production of the ‘Discover American Studies’ CD-Rom, funded by a grant from the US Embassy and carried out at Birmingham University by Dr. Sarah Wood under the overall supervision of Professor Dick Ellis. A comprehensive presentation of the project was given at the September 2007 meeting of the Development Subcommittee, the response to which was that ‘all agreed that the project was of high quality and worth investing in.’ Following consultation with heads of American Studies departments and programmes about how they could use the ‘Discover American Studies’ CD-Rom, it was agreed that BAAS would purchase a significant number of copies to be distributed among departments and programmes for recruiting purposes. A final version is now ready for distribution in time for the 2009 university admissions round. The subcommittee wishes to thank Professor Dick Ellis and Dr. Sarah Wood for the hard work which has gone into the production of the CD-Rom.

RC reported that he had also attended the spring meeting of the Language, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS) Subject Centre Advisory Board. It was felt important for BAAS to retain active membership in LLAS. During further discussion of LLAS at the January 2008 Development Subcommittee meeting, it was noted that LLAS planned to set aside funds for teaching proposals in area studies, strengthening the reasons for BAAS representation. The question has been raised about whether the BAAS Development Subcommittee Chair should continue to attend LLAS Advisory Board given that two other BAAS Executive Committee members were members of the LLAS advisory Board in other capacities. It was felt that it was still important to retain the present level of BAAS representation since two of the three BAAS members on the LLAS Advisory Board were not specifically representing BAAS.

RC noted that postgraduate participation at the annual BAAS conferences continues to be impressive and the separate annual Postgraduate Conference attracts increasing numbers, indicating a high level of motivation and activity on the part of postgraduates in American Studies. The Manchester 2007 BAAS Postgraduate Conference was a great success, with a record attendance of 103 postgraduates. The quality of the paper was reported to have been very high. Plans for the 2008 BAAS Postgraduate Conference at Exeter University are well advanced. RC extended warm thanks to Ms. Jo Metcalf for coordinating postgraduate business in an efficient and enthusiastic manner.

RC also reported that Mr. Paul Blackburn took over the Schools’ Liaison brief during the year. PB concurred with the conclusion of Sarah Woods’s research (undertaken for the CD-Rom ‘Discover American Studies’) that what schools most needed was teacher champions, visits from academics to schools/colleges, and schools conferences. RC noted that sixth formers from Parrs Wood Sixth Form Centre attended the Manchester postgraduate conference, described by them as ‘excellent’. RC extended warm thanks to Paul Blackburn for the work he has undertaken in his first months as Schools’ Liaison Officer.

Dr. Ian Scott began his verbal report by thanking the partners and associates who help financially or on an organisational or administrative capacity, especially the US Embassy, the Eccles Centre at the British Library, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Virginia at Monticello. IS also thanked members of BAAS who donate funds to support the Short Term Travel Awards. IS also extended further thanks to all the anonymous judges (from within and outside the Executive Committee) who contributed to the successful business of the Awards subcommittee. IS noted that BAAS would distribute 32 awards (not including honourable mentions) for 2008, encompassing awards to A level students and established scholars, worth over £41,000. He noted that this bodes well for the discipline. IS concluded by urging members to continue to apply for the STAs, the PG Awards and the Founders’ Awards, the PG Essay Prizes, and the Eccles Centre Awards.

Libraries and Resources:
Professor Dick Ellis began his report by extending thanks to Dr. Matthew Shaw for his work on the production of the BLARs journal. The next issue will focus on resources in film and cinema. DE also thanked Sue Wedlake and the Embassy for their continued support, as well as thanking Professor Phil Davies and the Eccles Centre at the British Library. DE noted that BLARs continues its work in mapping out and supporting libraries and resources, especially developments in digitalisation and the e-environment. DE concluded his report by extending his thanks to all the members of the BLARs subcommittee.

Professor Phil Davies reminded the AGM of the upcoming EAAS conference in Oslo, details of which members had received in the newsletter and via the BAAS e-list. He also reminded the AGM of EJAS and encouraged the membership to submit to this valuable resource. PD concluded by recommending registration for the EAAS e-list to the AGM

There was no any other business.

The AGM concluded at 4.15pm.