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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 245


Meeting 245

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: January 13, 2006

Minutes of the 245th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Leicester on January 13, 2006.

1. Present
S Newman (Chair), C Smith (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), G Thompson (Treasurer), R Crockatt, J Davies, C Elliott, W Kaufman, J Kleinberg, C Morley, M Padget, I Scott, J Virden, T Woods.

K Cooper, S MacLachlan, I Ralston

In attendance
G Conyne

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
After minor typographical amendments, these were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.

3. Matters Arising
Reference 4l from BAAS 244 minutes, HM was unable to attend the QAA benchmarking meeting in Manchester because of work commitments.

4. Chair’s Business
a) SN began by thanking the Leicester representatives for organising the meeting. It was agreed that BAAS would try to use the January meeting (or another appropriate meeting) to visit the upcoming conference sites well in advance of the conference date.

b) SN reported that Peter Ling and Sharon Monteith have been appointed to chairs at the University of Nottingham, and that Bridget Bennett has been appointed to a chair in American Literature at the University of Leeds. Peter Boyle was made Reader at Nottingham. Congratulations were extended to these BAAS members. Peter Ling was also successful in bidding for an AHRC Large Research Grant of £171,662.00 for “Social Capital and the Southern Christian Conference.” This grant will support two doctoral studentships and a postgraduate research assistantship, which will be advertised shortly. These individuals will be able to do US-based research from this funding.

c) It was agreed that SN would contact Peter Ling about offering a lunch time meeting at Kent to discuss funding opportunities; JD may also be interested in fronting this.

d) The Chair represented BAAS at a number of events over the last quarter, including a conference on ‘Cartooning the USA’ at the British Library on 18 October 2005 and the annual conference of the American Studies Association in Washington, 3-6 November 2005. As well as presenting a paper, SN (along with Jay Kleinberg and Susan Castillo) participated in various “International Initiative” events and discussions. The Chair also attended a conference marking the opening of the new building for the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, 1-3 December 2005, and he gave a lecture to postgraduates and staff at the British Library on using newly acquired digital sources in research, 5 December 2005.

e) The Chair attended a reception honouring Dave Brubeck on his 85th birthday at Winfield House, 5 December 2005, and on the following day, along with the Secretary, met Rick Roberts (Minister Counselor for Public Affairs), Michael Macy (Cultural Attaché), Beth Poisson (Press Counselor) in London, and took them to lunch. This was a very productive meeting: Michael Macy and Rick Roberts have academic experience in American Studies and Archaeology (of the Plains Indians) respectively and are genuinely interested in BAAS’s work. They may start hosting informal events honouring the authors of important new books by BAAS members. The Chair also attended a reception at the US Embassy on 10 January marking the launch of the first series of stamps to be jointly produced by the British and American post offices, for children’s books. It was at this meeting that SN was informed that US embassy speaker funding has been cut by a third for the next year.

f) SN wrote a letter of condolence to Sue Kidd, telling her how saddened the BAAS community was by the death of her husband Stuart Kidd (Reading). Sue responded with an appreciative message.

g) The Chair wrote to Dan Jordan and Andrew O’Shaughnessy of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, thanking them for their support of new fellowships for British teachers in their programmes, to be administered by BAAS. With much assistance from Ian Scott, Ian Ralston and Kathryn Cooper, he drafted an application form for these awards.

h) SN reported that he had submitted nominations to the AHRC for new members of the Peer Review College from the American Studies community; successful candidates will hear in February.

i) SN drafted and then circulated the American Studies alumni questionnaire: Martin Padget has received approximately 40 responses so far. A second call for contributors will go out shortly with a clear deadline for submissions. MP reported that the career trajectory of respondents is interesting and varied, but that he would like to see more of a range of graduation years, since most respondents had graduated relatively recently.

j) The Chair corresponded with Roger Goodman (Nissan Professor of Japanese Studies, Oxford) regarding the two-day area studies workshop scheduled for early December, “The Future of Interdisciplinary studies in the UK.” Various BAAS members (including Graham Thompson and Martin Halliwell) and American Studies representatives were subsequently invited to participate. James Dunkerley of the ISA was invited to make a presentation on behalf of all of the “Americas”, and the Chair corresponded with James regarding the points that BAAS and the American Studies subject community would like raised. Professor Dunkerley sent the Chair a copy of his report, which he circulated. GT reported that in many ways, the American Studies community was in a stronger position than many of the other area studies networks, in part because of the strength of BAAS and the way that the Committee is proactive in arranging destination surveys and schools projects. In addition, we have strong American Studies journals (Journal of American Studies, Comparative American Studies) and a younger age profile for our academics, which shows how strong our postgraduate numbers are. GT expressed some concern that the major focus of the workshop was on reacting to government funding initiatives rather than on scholarly debates.

k) SN and IS corresponded with Morris Phibbs regarding a BAAS representative attending a meeting of possible partners with the Centre for Black Music Research in Chicago.

l) SN reported that he had written to former BAAS chairs Bob Burchell, Richard King, Judie Newman and Phil Davies, asking if they would be willing to be interviewed and have the recordings and transcripts of the interviews placed in the BAAS archives at the University of Birmingham. They all agreed. Ali Fisher at Birmingham, who has examined the interviews of all other BAAS chairs, will conduct the interviews, and will write a short piece about them for ASIB. It was agreed that BAAS would pay Ali’s expenses and a small stipend.

m) SN reported that he has received correspondence from Richard King (Nottingham) about the AHRC participation in the ESF European Reference index for the Humanities, which had been discussed at previous meetings. The latest information reveals that only journals published in Europe will be listed in a journals index, and this is clearly very problematic for American Studies (American Studies is not targeted at present). SN circulated a letter that he wrote to Yvonne Hawkins of the AHRC but has not yet received a response. Last time, the academic community mobilized against this proposal, but it is unclear what the way forward is now. SN also circulated the annual report of the AHRC for 2004-05.

n) SN reported that he had been invited to send two representatives from BAAS to a round-table discussion of possible approaches to benchmarking academic standards for taught master’s degree programmes, to be held in London on 17 February. Since he will be in the US at that point, he cannot go. JK and MP volunteered to go, and thanks were extended to them.

5. Secretary’s Business

a) The Secretary reported that this had been a particularly busy quarter, as members start to prepare for the conference. HM asked GT to indicate clearly on BAAS’s homepage that all conference queries should be directed to GC and SM to avoid duplication of effort, and a delay in offering information. This was agreed.

b) HM noted that she had previously circulated by email all items that she had received; this included information on the UKCASA AGM information, the Charity Commission Newsletter, and invitations to events.

c) HM noted that actions taken as Secretary included the following: corresponding with publishers regarding the book prize; directing individuals with research queries (including BBC researchers) to the appropriate sources; distributing information from KC about American Studies subjects taught in Schools; distributing calls for papers, conferences, etc. through the listserv; updating records with national surveys/records esp. in relation to the STAs and other awards; updating the BAAS Externals’ list and distributing it to interested parties; forwarding information to the treasurer re: membership queries, esp. from lapsed members; putting people in contact with CE regarding postgraduate events/links, and liaising with Dick Ellis (Birmingham) regarding a bid to the US Embassy for an American Studies box.

d) HM reported that she has liaised with CM as ASIB editor and has submitted the AGM notice for publication, including notification of elections.

e) HM arranged for flowers to be sent as a thank you to Sue Wedlake for her work on the 50th anniversary subcommittee, which has now been disbanded.

f) HM reported that two individuals had successfully competed against a strong field for the BAAS Teaching Assistantships. The History Teaching Assistantship at New Hampshire went to Emily Iggulden (Glasgow) and the English Teaching Assistantship at Virginia went to James Weddup (Warwick).

g) HM will liaise with GC about booking accommodation for the Wednesday evening before the Kent conference.

h) HM reported that along with WK, she had written an article on American Studies for Prospects, which was published in December.

i) HM noted that she would be representing BAAS at a meeting at the Embassy and reception at the Ambassador’s house on 18 January 2006. The meeting has been arranged to help prominent Americans in the UK network.

6. Treasurer’s Business

a) The Treasurer distributed a document on current membership figures and bank balances. Balances on 13.1.06 are as follows: Current account: £844.47; Conference: £7,204.30; Lib. Res.: £2.76; Ed. Development: £4,932.95; STA: £23, 083.71; Deposit: £30,751.22, making a total of £66819.41. In addition, the US dollar account shows a balance of $3369.13 and the RBS account currently has £14,848.44.

b) Membership figures at end of 2005: 524 (176 of whom are postgraduates). This figure includes those who have yet to update their standing order (88) and those who don’t pay by standing order and need to renew for 2006 and haven’t done so by 12/1/06 (149). For EAAS dues purposes, therefore, membership stands at 375 (this figure includes those who haven’t been paying the updated rate) and for JAS subscriptions, the figure is 270 (because some postgraduates elect not to take the journal).

c) GT reported that he in succeeded in buying software to look after membership details and GiftAid as had been detailed at the last meeting, and this is now underway. GT has to alter entries by hand to get the membership package to work but it is almost ready; he is planning to work next on the GiftAid section. It is expected that he will be able to make a claim to the Inland Revenue by the summer and will report at the summer meeting on this.

d) GT noted that the financial year ended at the end of December, and he will start gathering accounts and send to the auditors in the next few weeks.

e) SN reported that he talked to a French postgraduate student who observed that it was difficult to obtain pound cheques to pay membership fees if you lived overseas. GT is to check whether we can process cheques in Euros, or open a Euro account. It was also pointed out that individuals can pay electronically. It was agreed that the website would announce, “If you wish to pay in Euros, contact the Treasurer directly for advice and guidance.”

7. Development Subcommittee (IS reporting)

a) IS reported that he has been in touch with the US Embassy over the funding we were granted. There was initially a problem with the cheque being paid into the University of Manchester, but this has been resolved.

b) IS reported that he and SM had a good productive day in Nottingham with Peter Boyle, interviewing the BAAS Teaching Assistantship applicants. SM suggested that they write to candidates and provide individual feedback to those who came along, and IS has agreed to do so.

c) IS noted that the applications process is now closed for the STAs (both for the postgraduate/young scholars and Founders awards). The postgraduate STA field continues to grow and is very strong this year; the Founders’ Awards are in their first year and thus the number of applications is less than the more established STAs, but they are again strong. Panels will make their decisions shortly, and by the end of February at the latest. Award winners will be invited to the Banquet at the Conference.

d) IS reported that there had been ongoing discussions (initiated by Rick Roberts and Michael Macy of the Embassy in December) about a new prize to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth. Thus the “Benjamin Franklin Fellowship for 2006” will be announced shortly, once final arrangements have been put in place. Although the Embassy officials had originally wanted a representative from the Embassy to be on the prize panel, IS has indicated to them our normal procedures for anonymous prize panels. The timetable is yet to be fully determined; the Embassy would like the winner announced at the Conference but this might be an ambitious timeline. The Fellowship is substantial at $7000 for academic staff.

e) IS noted that a further meeting has taken place between IR, KC and IS regarding the Schoolteachers’ Initiative; this is ongoing. The applications process is ongoing for Jefferson Monticello teachers’ fellowship in order to take advantage of the interest generated on website; thus the deadline has been extended. IS noted that it will be important to continue to monitor our schools’ outreach programme, and to promote the Ambassador’s School Essay Prize; we must ensure that we are encouraging schools’ liaison appropriately.

f) IS reported that he had drafted a conference funding support form and circulated it to the Development Subcommittee. He will circulate a more polished version at the next meeting, at which point, if approved, it will go on the website.

g) IS asked the Committee to endorse the Subcommittee’s recommendations for funding two events. Dick Ellis and Scott Lucas asked for £200 for their “Engaging the New American Studies” conference (May, Birmingham), which will support postgraduates; CM and Alexander Goody at Oxford Brookes have requested £200 for their American Modernism conference, September 2006, for postgraduates. These bids were approved.

h) IS noted that there had been a lot of postgraduate business this quarter. CE has been involved in helping to arrange workshops for Kent on grants and bursaries, as well as a workshop panel. She also developed a booklet for colleagues interested in having her come to talk to undergraduates about postgraduate research in the UK. CE volunteered to post hard copies of her booklet to anyone who wanted it, and she was encouraged to contact the Eccles Centre to liaise with them. It was also reported that the BAAS postgraduate conference in Sheffield was a well-attended event with good papers, and a thorough evaluation was made of the conference in a conference report. Thanks were passed on to Anne Marie Evans and Elizabeth Boyle. There was some discussion in the Subcommittee about extending the event into a two day conference. The 2006 postgraduate conference will be held in Nottingham; IS will write to Sharon Montieth formally to let her know.

8. Publications Subcommittee (CS reporting)

a) CS noted that KM had attended the Subcommittee and had offered a full report. Highlights include the fact that Edward Long papers will shortly be published. This project took 10 years to come to completion and includes 14 reels. KM was engaged as the editor prior to his contract with BRRAM, and he was commended for his perseverance with this important project. CS also reported that the Walt Whitman material in Bolton will be forthcoming shortly. Finally, a new BRRAM contract has been agreed, subject to minor amendment, on the basis of what the Committee had agreed in previous meetings.

b) CS reported that JK had offered a full report on JAS. The December issue has been published and was the 50th anniversary issue. The April issue is very diverse, covering topics from Paul Auster’s narratives to 9/11. The move to electronic publishing (and the inclusion of searchable abstracts) is ongoing.

c) CS reported that the Subcommittee had considered the CVs and further information for all applicants for the new Editor and Associate Editor positions and made the following recommendations: Prof. Susan Castillo as Editor and Prof. Scott Lucas as Associate Editor. This was approved. As per our normal practice, HM as Secretary will write to CUP Syndics to recommend our choices, as they make the final appointment. CS to write to successful and unsuccessful candidates.

d) CS noted that our relationship with EUP continues to be a successful and productive one. WK’s book will be published in February 2006, following closely by Palmer’s book on the 1920s in the US (April 2006), Palmer. A proposal on North American theatre is out to readers at present, and another proposal on music and slavery is currently being revised and resubmitted. A number of other proposals are expected shortly. Committee members are reminded to send ideas to SN, CS or Nicola Ramsey (formerly Nicola Carr).

e) CS reported that the ASIB deadline was extended slightly to 20 January.

f) CS noted that recently, there had been a number of website difficulties due to the original hosting company being bought out by a new company. As a result, the mailbase will circulate conference pack as soon as possible so that we do not miss out on registrations. It is clear from the website hits that BAAS pamphlets are being used by universities in the US. [Update: on 20/1/06, GT arranged for a new company, Fresh Look Hosting, to take over the website, after our existing company failed to take action to resolve the difficulties].

g) CS distributed a list of 11 books that will be considered for the BAAS Book Prize and announced that Richard King had to withdraw from judging. He has been replaced by Jude Davies, who, along with Jenel Virden and Phil Davies, will make the final recommendations. They have a range of specialisms between them which are all appropriate for the list of books that were submitted. Some publishers disregarded our deadline or submitted books that were not by BAAS members, but these texts have been returned unread. There will be a brief report at the Conference Banquet and PD will write a fuller report for ASIB.

h) CS reported that WK and JD have agreed to become members of the US Studies Online editorial board. Thanks were extended to both of them.

9. Conference Subcommittee (GT reporting on SM’s behalf)

a) GT reported that he and SM had visited Kent in December and toured conference facilities (lecture theatres, seminar rooms which are well equipped and outside of accommodation buildings and dining/social facilities. There will be an all day bar). All seems in order.

b) GT noted that the morning’s meeting had focused on the final details. The plenary lectures have been finalized: Maggie Walsh will give the Eccles lecture; and Michael Bérubé will give the JAS/CUP lecture. BAAS will cover costs of JAS speaker. Michael Zuckerman (Penn), an early American historian, will present a lecture from an American Studies perspective. The provisional programme has been published on the website. The final costs and booking form are in place and will be sent out early next week; GC has address labels for BAAS members. The accommodation costs are as follows: on campus, ensuite for BAAS members: £255; non baas ensuite, £295; BAAS postgraduate member with ensuite, £155; BAAS postgraduate standard room, £100 (all on a first come, first served basis). Other options such as day rates, etc., are also available.

c) GC is in process of designing a poster in portrait format, combining the American Flag with UK flag and also featuring Benjamin Franklin. This will also be used as a programme cover.

d) GT reported that abstracts should be on line by the beginning of March; GC has organized postgraduate help for this, and money has been allocated for this. There will also be postgraduate help at the conference and a postgraduate lunch. JV asked if there was a session set up for the US exchange (Peter Boyle normally runs this). JD may want to be involved too. GC has arranged for at least one extra room available at all times. It was agreed that the Secretary will ask SM to contact individuals about these lunch time sessions.

e) GT reported that Subcommittee members used part of the morning session to visit the Leicester conference site and look at lecture theatres, seminar rooms, accommodation and dining/social facilities. En suite facilities are being built at present. There will be a Saturday night banquet at Athena, an old art Deco cinema. A plenary lecture (by Richard King) and a disco will also be there. Between the plenary and the banquet, EUP will host a reception to launch Martin Halliwell’s series on American Culture. Athena needed deposit of £500 but this was agreed.

f) GT reported that George Lewis had drawn up projected costs for the conference, and current figures suggest that BAAS members with ensuite rooms will pay approximately £270. The venues are very nice Edwardian houses with a lot of oak panelled rooms.

g) TW noted that the cost of hosting the reception at the beginning of the preceding conference was agreed at £500, and that this needed to be mentioned to Edinburgh as soon as possible, as they are hosting the conference in 2008.

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee

a) AS IR was unable to attend, there was no report offered, but it was noted that the Subcommittee had yet to meet. A report will be forthcoming for the next meeting.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

a) JV reported that Newsletter issue 55 (October) is out on the web and has a full conference schedule for the Cyprus conference (7-10 April 2006) and list of parallel lectures. There was originally some erroneous information on registration, but JV has sent the correct information to the web and mailbase. Cyprus Airways are offering special deals for delegates, but these are advertised in Cyprus pounds only at present. JV sent BAAS news to EAAS for inclusion in newsletter but not all of what was sent in went in. For example, though information on the BAAS paperbacks series went in, news on members’ books did not. Another issue of the newsletter is currently being prepared. JV has canvassed for information from BAAS to include. The newsletter is much more substantial than what had previously been the case.

b) JV reported that Marc Chenetier has put together the first European Journal of American Studies on line, which will be available soon; Dick Ellis has written a short piece from the British perspective on American Studies. An editor has yet to be appointed.

c) JV reported that the EAAS conference will be held in Oslo in 2008 but that the 2010 conference has yet to be determined. Committee members were urged to consider whether it would be possible to host the EAAS conference in the UK at one of their institutions. JV is to circulate this message to the mailbase. There are plans to encourage more postgraduates to attend the biennial conference.

d) JV noted that Prague conference proceedings are ongoing.

12. Any Other Business

a) IS passed on thanks in advance to panellists for evaluating the BAAS awards, and he urged Committee members to be aware of /encourage the Ambassador’s prizes (the deadline is coming up shortly). Information on these prizes will go on the mailbase and the website. In addition, the BAAS postgraduate essay prize comes up in March.

b) HM reminded the Committee that the following positions will fall vacant at the next AGM: Treasurer, postgraduate member, and three Committee members. Thanks were extended to CE for her sterling work for the Committee.

13. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held at Canterbury at 11am and will carry on over lunch. Subcommittees do not meet. HM is to gather information from Committee members about whether they require overnight accommodation for the Wednesday night. An evening meal will be arranged.

Dr Heidi Macpherson, Secretary.
Phone (office): (01772) 893041 or 893040
Fax: (01772) 892970