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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 246


Meeting 246

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: April 20, 2006

Minutes of the 246th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Kent on April 20, 2006.

1. Present

C Smith (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), G Thompson (Treasurer), K Cooper, R Crockatt, J Davies, C Elliott, W Kaufman, S MacLachlan, C Morley, I Ralston, I Scott, J Virden, T Woods.


S Newman (Chair), J Kleinberg, M Padget

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 and Review of Action List

CS confirmed that she had written to unsuccessful candidates for the posts of editor and associate editor (ref 8c) and GT reported he was still investigating the euros account (ref 6f). Any actions not yet completed will be carried over to the next action list.

4. Chair’s Business (CS reporting on SN’s behalf)

a) In the absence of SN, CS, as Vice Chair, read out a written report offered by SN. The report noted that Susan Castillo has been appointed to a Chair in American Studies at King’s College, London. Congratulations were extended to her.

b) The Chair attended the following events on behalf of BAAS: on 13 March he attended the Harry Allen Memorial Lecture at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, which was given by Professor Richard Carwardine. On 21 March he attended a “Conversation with Lynne Cheney and Ambassador Robert Tuttle” at the US Embassy, sponsored by the Eccles Centre and by the British American Project. On 24 March he attended and gave a paper at a symposium on “Atlantic History from Both Sides of the Atlantic” at the L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. The Chair unfortunately had to cancel his plenary lecture at the biennial conference of the European Association for American Studies (EAAS) in Cyprus.

c) The Chair’s report noted correspondence and reports received, including a copy of a letter from Guy DeFazio, President of the Center for Jazz Arts in Los Angeles, to Shamoon Zamir at King’s College, announcing a new “bridge-building” initiative in the UK and Europe through the expansion of “Jazz Appreciation Month.” The Chair also received the First Annual Report of the Institute for the Study of the Americas. This was circulated to the Committee for information.

d) The report noted that the panel criteria and working methods for RAE 2008 Main Panel L, and sub-panel 47 “American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies” had been published.

e) The Chair received, and then on behalf of BAAS signed, the new agreement with Microform Academic Publishers.

f) The Chair was interviewed by Hua Hsu for an article on international American Studies in the Boston Globe. He was consulted by James Marshall of the BBC regarding a proposed documentary series on American arts and architecture.

g) The Chair consulted with Professor Philip Davies regarding a new series of initiatives and fellowships to be offered by the Eccles Centre and the British Library. These would involve BAAS taking a role with the British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS) in judging applications. Catherine Morley agreed to attend the upcoming meeting on BAAS’s behalf.

h) The Chair noted the importance of BAAS making progress on the alumni questionnaire. In the absence of Martin Padget, it was agreed to hold this discussion over to the summer meeting. As MP was not standing for re-election, it would be necessary for SN or CS to liaise with him to ensure that the project was on schedule. It was noted that various BAAS members have asked for a progress report, particularly on the plan to produce a brochure on the results.

i) The Chair received a letter from Dr. Frank Cogliano, the Chair of the Scottish Association for the Study of America (SASA), asking if the SASA web page could be moved from Glasgow to the BAAS website. This raised the issue of whether all of the regional organizations might be offered such a web site, where local events, lectures, conferences etc., could be announced. GT noted that he had received an email about this from a postgraduate at Glasgow. There was a sustained discussion about the pros and cons of such a request, and it was agreed that further discussion was needed before a final decision could be taken, but that since SASA was its own organization, it did not necessarily make sense to host its website, though the Committee agreed that a clearer link could be made between websites.

j) The Chair met with Professor James Dunkerley of ISA to discuss the revival of the joint ISA/Nottingham bid for AHRC funding to support the creation of a research course for all postgraduate students starting research degrees on the Americas. The Chair agreed to discuss with the Executive Committee the possibility of including more institutions in a future bid.

5. Secretary’s Business

a) The Secretary reported that this had been a very busy quarter, particularly in relation to preparations made for the conference. To assist with the last minute queries, it was agreed that SM would compile a conference briefing sheet to send out to the Secretary and other officers, so that if they were contacted by individuals, they would have a list of the charges, etc. It was also agreed that a timeline would be published on the web, saying, for example, “Information on charges (etc.) will be available in early April. Please contact us again if you haven’t heard from us by X date….”

b) HM noted that she had previously circulated by email all items that she had received; however, she drew to the Committee’s attention to the AHRC questionnaire on modern history review, and asked for responses by 1 May.

c) HM noted that actions taken as Secretary included the following: corresponding with Philip Davies about the proposed Eccles Centre awards.

d) The Secretary noted that other actions taken included: writing to the CUP syndics confirming our proposals for editor and associate editor of JAS ; helping individuals with queries about the BAAS pamphlet series; fielding a lot of questions about the upcoming conference, especially regarding programmes, fees, and publishers’ tables; directing people with research queries to the appropriate sources, including BBC researchers; participating in a BBC radio Lancashire programme on pledging allegiance to the flag (in relation to the 400 th anniversary of the Union Jack); distributing calls for papers, conferences, etc., through the listserv; updating our records with national surveys/records especially in relation to the STAs and other awards; updating our BAAS Externals list and distributing it to interested parties. It was agreed that the Secretary would ensure that another call for information would go out in the next ASIB and shortly on the listserv.

e) The Secretary has forwarded information to the treasurer regarding membership queries, especially from lapsed members, and has put individuals in contact with CE regarding postgraduate events/links; she has also continued to field questions about the newspapers’ database despite all of the information on the web which informs people that we do not actually hold the individual copies of newspapers ourselves.

f) The Secretary noted that she will be representing BAAS at the official opening, by the Queen, of the Princess Margaret Memorial Garden at the Rothermere on 5 May.

g) HM noted that she has been appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College, on the strength of a recommendation by BAAS, and she thanked the Committee for their support.

6. Treasurer’s Business

a) The Treasurer noted that our current bank balances on 20.04.06 are as follows: Current account: £2,282.55; Conference: £11,559.34; Lib. Res.: £2.76; Ed. Development: £4,943.42;STA: £19,956.37; Deposit: £21,711.39, making a total of £60,455.83. In addition, the US dollar account shows a balance of $3,624.27and the RBS account currently has £14,848.44.

b) GT also offered three different membership figures. The most conservative figures are: 384 (127 of whom are postgraduates). This figure does not include those who have yet to update their Standing Orders; if they are included, the figures are 470 (150 postgraduates). The figure rises to 575 (202 of whom are postgraduates) if the figures include those who don’t pay by Standing Order and need to renew for 2006 and haven’t done so by 20.04.06.

c) The Treasurer noted that the main business for this quarter was the annual accounts, which would be presented to the AGM.

d) SM asked if there was a possibility of setting some funds in the conference accounts prior to the conference to help secure venues, etc., and suggested a figure of £2000. This was agreed. CS noted that the Conference Subcommittee chair should ensure that the new Conference Secretary would be aware of this. SM agreed to update the notes available to new Conference Secretaries.

e) GT reported that he did not want to disadvantage those who had forgotten to update Standing Orders, so he would be sending out a further message to such members reminding them to update their SOs and therefore remain members in good standing.

f) GT reported that he had received the final cheque from the Manchester conference for £2,810.62 to close the account; this money will go directly into the new conference holding account.

g) GT reported that he had investigated electronic payments, in order to deal with European and overseas subscriptions, as well as for individuals who wished to pay this way. He noted that BAAS could use an online system like Paypal, but there is a charge on each transaction: 3.4% plus 20p. (This equates to an extra £1.60 on £41 subscriptions, £1.15 on £28 subscriptions, and 65p on £13 subscriptions). After much discussion, it was agreed that BAAS would not absorb this cost, but pass it on to subscribers who chose to pay this way. This method of payment is one of a range of payment options. It was agreed that GT should pursue this option and advertise its availability.

7. Development Subcommittee (IS reporting)

a) IS reported that he and SN had a liaison discussion with the Center for Black Music Research at the end of last year; there was a summit to be held in Vienna in February, and IS was invited to attend but was unable to for logistical reasons. IS wrote to his contacts there inviting them to the BAAS conference, but no further correspondence has been received.

b) IS thanked members for agreeing to support the BAAS Northwest Schools Civil Rights Seminar Day, which was attended by KC’s students, among others.

c) IS led a discussion on prizes and awards. SN, IS and others have had a number of informal conversations over the last few months about how to ensure that the awarding of prizes was managed in the best way. IS distributed a list of this year’s awards which included 28 certificates (see appendix for the full list of prizes). This is a major undertaking, much larger than the number originally distributed by BAAS; this year the prize giving included various school awards and the biennial Teaching Assistantships. There were 32 applications for postgraduate STA awards and the field was very strong, which is reflected in the fact that there were 11 STAs (including the named STAs) awarded this year. IS reminded the Committee that the special Cox STA was for this year only. The new Founders’ awards also had a good response, which was gratifying as this was the first year that BAAS ran this award. IS also reported that the BAAS Postgraduate Essay Prize attracted 19 top class entries.

d) IS proposed in conjunction with SN that the Development Subcommittee splits in two: one would take over most of the duties of the current committee (funding applications, liaison with other organizations, schools, libraries, etc.) and the other would focus on prizes, awards and grant giving. This new committee would be able to co-opt members onto it to ensure a balance of specialisms/fields of interest. Setting up such a committee would require the Secretary to propose changes to the Standing Orders, for ratification at the next meeting. The Committee agreed in principle that this proposal should go forward. It may be that the Prize Subcommittee would not need to meet as often as the Executive, as long as it could ensure that the process of publicizing, organizing and judging all of the prizes took place. It was agreed to move the BAAS Book Prize to this new subcommittee when it was established; IS will report our decision to the AGM.

e) IS reported on the Ben Franklin Fellowship, and his liaison with the Embassy. Thanks were recorded to the members of the committee who liaised on this project.Although this prize was a one-off prize, the chair of that subcommittee indicated to the Embassy that we would be interested in looking at future proposals; this is a good way of ensuring future developments.

f) TW raised the issue of the STA award amounts, and after a considered discussion, it was agreed that the amount offered should be raised; thus the Committee agreed that this would be £750 to take into account higher transatlantic airfares. The Committee also agreed that we would normally offer 5 named postgraduate STAs and 4 unnamed, but that we had the right to alter that number if circumstances existed that suggested we should do so.

g) IS noted that BAAS had yet to receive a cheque from the Embassy for the Ben Franklin Fellowship; GT is to follow that up.

8. Publications Subcommittee (CS reporting)

a) CS noted that there was nothing significant to report from BRRAM since the last detailed report.

b) CS reported that JK was unwell and unable to attend the meeting. Due to a variety of reasons, there had been no progress to report on the appointment of new editorial board members for JAS, but this would need to be addressed at the summer meeting so that individuals could be in place for the September editorial board meetings. There are currently at least 5 vacancies, though 2 current incumbents have been approached to see if they would like to remain on the board. Executive Committee members are asked to notify CS of any names that they think might be suitable, but were reminded not to approach individuals themselves. The CUP syndics had confirmed the new editorial team, taking over from 1 st January: Susan Castillo as Editor and Scott Lucas as Associate Editor. Thanks were offered to the editorial assistants John Matlin (Brunel) and Maggie Selby (Glasgow) for their hard work.

c) CS reported that the EUP series continues to go well. Recently published books included WK’s book on the Civil War and Niall Palmer’s book on the 1920s in America. Books going through the editorial process included ones on theatre, African American Music, the short story, and TV and science fiction. CS will issue another call for titles at the AGM and through ASIB.

d) CS noted that ASIB had had an excellent year under the new editorship of CM. The next deadline for copy is 13 August.

e) CS noted that another publication with a new editor (Liz Rosen) was US Studies Online: There had been an excellent response to the call for papers issued on the UPenn list. This has, however, required that the editor institute a tighter editorial control process and take on more of a gateway role.

f) CS reported that there had been 11 books eligible for the Book Prize, though other books had arrived late or outside of the requirements and were therefore not considered. As noted in the appendix, Richard Follett’s book stood out in a very good field. Philip Davies is to report at the conference dinner tomorrow. CS warned that we may have a bumper year for books for the 2006 prize because of the RAE.

g) GT reported on the website: on average, 800 people a day visit the website and the highest ever number visited on the 4 th of April: 1596 unique hits. This reveals the ongoing interest in American Studies and BAAS in the UK and elsewhere.

9. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

a) SM reported that future conferences have been confirmed: Leicester will host the next conference on 19-22 April 2007; Robert Mason at Edinburgh will be the Conference Secretary for 2008, and he proposed two different sets of dates: 27-30 March or 3-6 April. Given that Easter Sunday is 23 rd March, the Committee agreed that the earlier date was preferable.

b) SM reported that Nottingham will host the conference in 2009.

c) SM agreed that in order to ensure that Conference Secretaries had the most up-to-date information, she would update the conference guidelines to include the following points: that individuals should receive automated responses to paper submissions confirming that their proposals had arrived; a set of standard publisher charges; the necessity for abstracts to be put online (BAAS funding available for this) and the introduction of a conference float (provided by BAAS) for conference expenses incurred prior to the receipt of conference fees .

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (IR reporting)

a) Following the successful re-launch of the journal last year, IR reported that the Subcommittee has had funding approved by the US Embassy for the next edition. It will be now distributed to all BAAS members along with ASIB as well as the existing cohort who are not BAAS members.

b) IS noted that members were contacted through the mailbase regarding the next project: a new database of materials separate from existing newspapers’ database. Responses are being fed back to Kevin Halliwell, the Special Projects Officer and results will be known14 June. A second call will go out on the mailbase shortly, and IR and the Subcommittee will move forward after that point.

c) IR reported that the Subcommittee had two new members: Donald Tait, the Librarian at Glasgow University, and CM.

d) Congratulations were offered to everyone involved in the bid to get funding, and on the new projects.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

a) JV reported that the EAAS Board met at Nicosia, Cyprus at various points throughout the biennial conference from 6-10 April 2006. There were 20 board members present with apologies from Yuri Stulov, Minsk, Belarus who could not make it to Cyprus due to the troubles in Belarus.

b) JV noted that the EAAS Treasurer’s Report recorded BAAS membership of 567 in 2005 down to 403 in 2006. The accounts for 2005, a non-conference year, showed 20,000 euros in the bank. Total membership dues equalled 25,409 euros. The Amsterdam Trust Fund generates 6-8,000 euros per year off investments of 210,000 euros.

c) EJAS , the new online journal was now available on the EAAS website. An editorial board committee of 7 individuals is now in place and they will shortly elect a chief editor; the Committee thanked Dick Ellis for writing an article for the new journal on behalf of BAAS.

d) JV noted that the ASE Newsletter is now fully electronic “with very little complaint.” The newsletter is under remit of the Vice President.

e) JV noted that the EAAS website is now fully overhauled, and that the BAAS website was particularly commended by the EAAS board.

f) JV reported that EAAS received an application for membership from Bulgaria (BASA), which has around 50 members. This led to a discussion about the size of board; JV agreed to come up with talking points to discuss ways of smaller associations working together, along the Nordic Association pattern.

g) The next meeting of the Board will take place in 2007 at Wittenberg, from 12-15 April. The 2008 EAAS Conference will be in Oslo (the first time it has taken place in a Nordic country); the dates have been moved to 9-12 May to take into account Scandinavian weather patterns. The theme of the conference will shortly be finalized but is likely to be: “e pluribus unum OR e pluribus plura.” The following year is a board meeting only and this will occur in Zurich while the 2010 EAAS Conference will be hosted by the Clinton Centre at University College Dublin.

h) JV reported that the Prague conference proceedings, America in the Course of Human Events, are now out. The EAAS is currently looking for a new publisher. From the Cyprus conference, 2 papers from each workshop will be included, to help with the coherency of the proceedings. One thing to note from the last conference is the rise in AV requirements, which may be difficult for some countries to deal with.

i) JV reported that the Nicosia conference was a success, with over 220 delegates. EAAS experimented with the placement of the AGM during the conference by putting it on the first day, shortly after registration, in order to encourage attendance; this was successful. There was some concern among women members of the EAAS about how few workshops were chaired by women and the complete lack of women as parallel lecturers or plenary speakers. As a result, a woman’s caucus is in the process of forming.

j) JV noted that there were only 5 applications for postgraduate travel grants, which was disappointing, and she has volunteered to set up a postgraduate network in EAAS, since not all associations have postgraduate representatives.

k) JV noted that elections took place for the Vice-President and Secretary General. Martin Heusser, from Switzerland, was elected Vice President and JV was elected Secretary General. This means that it is possible for BAAS to nominate someone else to represent BAAS on the EAAS Board. The Committee discussed this at length and decided to wait until JV’s term expired in 2007 in order not to rush an election. Congratulations were offered to JV on her election.

12. Any Other Business

a) The Committee discussed the recent proposals to replace peer review with a metrics based system.

b) Official thanks were extended to outgoing committee members: KC, CE, TW, MP and IS. [IS was subsequently re-elected to the Committee at the AGM.]

c) CE reported that she would be holding a meeting/ workshop with postgraduate students over lunch during the conference to draw their attention to the journal, the BAAS postgraduate conference, prizes, etc.

d) CE reported that SN had asked her to sell raffle tickets to support the bursary fund for the Andrew Hook Centre at the conference and asked for support in this endeavour.

e) GT reported that BAAS normally gets a 10% reduction in accountant’s fee for the annual audit, but this is no longer happening.

f) SM reported that abstracts online for the conference didn’t materialize this year, but she will work with GL to ensure that they do appear for the Leicester conference; BAAS has agreed to fund this project as part of its commitment to the annual conference.

g) JD raised the ongoing issue of a decline in undergraduate recruitment, and a spirited debate followed in which a number of proposals were put forward, including ensuring a “careers in American Studies” brochure is produced; a “What is it?” guide to American Studies is made available for school teachers and A Level students, etc. The Development Subcommittee will need to take a lead in this. In addition, it would be helpful if BAAS could contact the Head of Subject list and check on local recruitment figures/perceptions to see if more can be done by the Executive.

13. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held at MMU on Friday 30 June 2006.

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

Appendix: BAAS awards 2006

Ambassador’s Awards

School Essay

Jessica Edwards (Loreto College, Manchester) “Assessing Poverty in Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society”

Undergraduate Essay

Edward Flett (University of the West of England, Bristol) “Transparency in The New York Trilogy: Paul Auster and the Inescapable Paradox”

Honourable Mention to:

Gary Cape (University of Central Lancashire) “Henry James and the Quest for the American Aesthetic: Cultural Tourism and Identity Crises in the Transatlantic Narrative”


Andrew Lyness (University of East Anglia) “Homelessness in America: The Pathology of Poverty”

Postgraduate Essay

Michael Collins (University of Nottingham) “‘Sloughing off the Old Skin’: Ideology, Folklore and the Invention of Tradition in the Tales of Washington Irving”

Benjamin Franklin Fellowship

Dr. Martin Pethers (Independent Scholar) “Revolutionary Politics and the American Theatre, 1750-1800”

BAAS Postgraduate Short-Term Travel Awards

Kiki Benzon (University College London)

Alex Miles (Salford University)

Nicholas Monk (University of Warwick)

Donna Peberdy (University of Nottingham)

Elizabeth Talbot (University of Glasgow)

David Torstensson (University of Oxford)

BAAS Named Postgraduate Short-Term Travel Awards

Malcolm Bradbury Award

Oliver Belas (Royal Holloway, University of London), “The genre fiction of African-American authors, in particular Rudolph Fisher and Chester Himes”

John D. Lees Award

Vicki Gordon (Oxford Brookes University), “Unilateral Executive Power and the Shaping of National Security from Truman to G.W. Bush”

Peter Parish Award

Ben Schiller (University of Edinburgh), “African-American slave letters as covert transcripts of resistance”

Marcus Cunliffe Award

Josephine Metcalf (University of Manchester), “Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs”

Ruth and Keith Cox Award

Mark Taylor (University of Hull), “The My Khe 4 Massacre during the Vietnam War”

BAAS Founders’ Awards

David Anderson (University of Dundee), “Southern Christmas Celebrations during the Civil War”

Howard Cunnell (Kingston University, Surrey), “Jack Kerouac”

Elizabeth Jacobs (Rothermere American Institute), “Women and Race Relations: From Civil Rights to Multiculturalism”

Catherine Morley (Oxford Brookes University), “A Comparative Study of Willa Cather and John Dos Passos”

Mark Newman (University of Edinburgh), “The Catholic Church in the South during Civil Rights”

BAAS Postgraduate Essay Prize

Clare Russell (University of Nottingham) ” Natural Disasters in America: The Northridge Earthquake (1994), Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the Relationships between Human Societies and the ‘Natural Environment'”

BAAS Teaching Assistantships

Emily Iggulden (Glasgow University), BAAS Teaching Assistantship in American History at the University of New Hampshire

James Weddup (University of Warwick), BAAS Teaching Assistantship in American Literature at the University of Virginia

BAAS Monticello Teachers’ Fellowships

Kathryn Cooper (Loreto College, Manchester ), Barringer Fellowship

John Siblon (City and Islington Sixth College), Monticello-Stratford Hall Seminar for Teachers

The Arthur Miller Centre Prize (from the University of East Anglia)

Rebecca Griffin, “Courtship Contests and the Meaning of Conflict in the Folklore of Slaves,” The Journal of Southern History

BAAS Book Prize

Richard Follett (University of Sussex), The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves In Louisiana’s Cane World, 1820-1860