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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 247


Meeting 247

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: June 30, 2006

Minutes of the 247th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Manchester on June 30, 2006.

1. Present S Newman (Chair), C Smith (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), G Thompson (Treasurer), J Davies, W Kaufman, H Lowe, J Metcalf, C Morley, I Ralston, T Saxon, I Scott, J Virden.

R Crockatt, M Halliwell, J Kleinberg, S MacLachlan

In Attendance
S Castillo, G Lewis

2. Minutes of the Previous Meetings.

These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.

3. Matters Arising and Review of Action List

In the absence of SM, we could not report on the compilation of a Conference Briefing Sheet, detailing things such as standard charges for publishers and publication of a “conference timeline” on the web (ref 5a of the Minutes of 246), or on the Conference Guidelines (ref 9d of the Minutes of 246), so these items will remain on the action list.

GT confirmed that he had liaised with the US Embassy regarding the Benjamin Franklin fellowship; the Embassy wanted clarification of expenditure. The cheque should be on its way soon.

IS confirmed that the Conference application form is now available on the website.

4. Chair’s Business

a) The Chair noted the following appointment: Prof. John Dumbrell will be moving to Durham in January. Congratulations are extended to him.

b) The Chair attended the following events on behalf of BAAS: on 14th June, he attended an AHRC consultation meeting for learned societies and subject associations in London, which included a workshop on postgraduate funding. (The Chair had originally signed up for an AHRC meeting on postgraduate funding to be held the following day, but the AHRC cancelled this registration because of over-subscription.) SN circulated information on the funding workshop, which involved a series of small group discussions. It appears that the AHRC is aware of potential academic disquiet about the current process, and so used this meeting—and will use others—to consult with relevant individuals and institutions in order to listen to what academics have to say. There will be other opportunities to provide suggestions and feedback. SN reported that there are currently 6,000 postgraduate applicants, and 1,500 awards are made (half for MAs, half for PhDs). The success rate has dropped from 40% in 2000 to 26% in 2005. In 2005 146 HEIs applied: 3 got 28% of awards; 20 got 65% of awards; 50 got 1-3 awards; 33 got no awards. Broadly speaking, these figures reflect the spread of applications, and this is something that as a Committee, BAAS needs to think about in formulating any responses to suggested reforms. SN noted that BAAS needs to be ready to respond quickly to the consultation process regarding funding; there was a suggestion that the ESRC model might be adopted (ie, block allocation of awards).

c) SN reported that the AHRC will shortly be announcing a major three-year international initiative, focusing on three areas in the world: China, South Asia, and the USA. The USA will be first, and the AHRC will collaborate with a number of US institutions (including the National Science Foundation) in offering jointly-funded, peer reviewed awards for collaborative projects. The AHRC is particularly interested in providing release time for people seeking to work on collaborative projects. Special networks and workshops grants will also be available, with double the usual funding (£30k and £60k respectively): there will be no interdisciplinary requirement for these, nor will 50% of the participants need to be British. It will be peer reviewed (but not on both sides of the Atlantic) and will include the private sector, because the National Endowment of the Arts has less funding than the AHRC. The AHRC is also particularly interested in funding digitization projects under this American initiative, which they see as spurring further research (already happening between the British Library and the Library of Congress). Applications for digitization projects with broad foci (history, film, etc.) will be welcome. While these schemes are intended for scholars in all areas of the arts and humanities, they represent a unique opportunity for the American Studies community. The Chair has invited Professor Tony McEnery, Director of Research at the AHRC, to attend the 2007 BAAS conference, to meet the subject community, and to discuss the American initiative. This could benefit the American Studies community enormously. The formal announcement on this is likely to come in November, with the first round of applications coming shortly after the announcement. There are no set guidelines as of yet, except that the projects must be collaborative.

d) The Chair also attended an event celebrating the first anniversary of the new AHRC, also in London on 14th June.

e) The Chair wrote to all outgoing members of the Executive Committee, thanking them for their work. He also sent letters to George Conyne, and to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kent, thanking them for hosting the 2006 BAAS conference.

f)   SN announced that the Eccles Centre no longer plans to publish its Eccles Guide to American Studies in the UK, though it may keep it on the web; this decision was greeted with some dismay. IR noted that the guide is available on the web via the American Studies Resource Centre. Subsequent to the meeting, it was confirmed that the Eccles Centre and the ASRC will work in tandem to keep this important resource available. The Eccles Centre will promote the study of AS in the UK and include a page of links to programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including Comparative American Studies and Canadian Studies, and will direct interested parties to the ASRC website for further information.

g) The Chair noted the following correspondence received. He received an email message from Kirsty Baxter, an American Studies graduate currently studying for a PGCE, whose research project concerns the possible introduction of an American Studies A-Level. The Chair wrote to Ms. Baxter expressing interest in her project, and accepting her offer to share a copy of her final project. This will be distributed to the whole committee for discussion at the autumn meeting.

h) The Chair noted that Ali Fisher has completed most of the interviews of past chairs that BAAS commissioned. Thus he has spoken to Bob Burchell, Richard King and Judie Newman, and will shortly be interviewing Philip Davies. AF will provide a template for future use. The Committee thanked him for his endeavours on our behalf. The interviews will be lodged in the archive along with the earlier interviews.

i)   SN updated the Committee on plans for RAE 2008, which will go ahead. However, at the AHRC meeting on 14 June, and in other forums such as the THES, it has become clear that this will be the last such exercise, and that it will be replaced by a different system. The Department for Education and Skills has published a consultation document “Reform of higher education research assessment and funding,” available at, and SN asked all Committee members to review the document and feed comments back to him so that BAAS can respond by the deadline of 13 October 2006. The report notes that the there will be a shift to some form of metrics, though the degree to which this will affect the arts and humanities and the social sciences is unclear. However, it is very clear that the government will not accept a system for the arts and humanities that is far more labour intensive and thus expensive than the one for the sciences. The peer review version is very expensive; hence the move to metrics, and it is clear that the academic community must respond with clear proposals for the best ways forward, as failure to engage will not be an option. A long discussion ensued about the journals listing project, the difficulties for area studies, and the fact that citations in humanities may take considerable time to appear. CS notes that consultation is important and does have effects; some of the comments made by the American Studies community in relation to the RAE proposals can be traced in the final documentation. Concerns were expressed over the shadow metrics system, particularly in relation to how RAE panels might be under pressure to conform to these new guidelines/requests. It was agreed that SN would ensure that a message about the consultation document would go out on the mailbase as a single item email and to the head of department list. CM noted that she had attended the Academy’s discussion on this earlier in the week and would disseminate her notes to the Committee after the meeting. CS noted that we need to be clear on responses to the shadow system as well as the new one.

j)   The Chair circulated a memo on an AHRC consultation on their new Strategic Resource Enhancement funding programme. They invite short proposals for resources that should be prioritized for enhancement by 4th August. All committee members were asked to make a response.

k) In May the Chair met with Professor Richard Dunn, co Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society, and discussed the low application rates for several British Academy fellowships of particular interest to the American Studies community. SN noted that these may not be as well advertised as they might be. These reciprocal awards would allow successful applicants to spend time in a variety of libraries in the US, including the Huntington Library (San Marino, CA), the Newberry library (Chicago), and one for visits to libraries in the Philadelphia area. Further information can be found at and Committee members may wish to ensure that this information is further disseminated.

l)   SN reported that he had been in contact with Marc Chénetier and his colleagues on the EAAS Board, who are concerned about what they perceive as the lack of attention paid by academics in the USA to work produced in Europe by Americanists. They have invited all European associations to submit a list of up to fifty “of the most significant books… published in English by their members on American subjects over the last 25 years.” In addition they welcome submissions to the new European Journal of American Studies, the inaugural issue of which will explore “Reading/Misreading America.” JV added that this issue was discussed in her handover meeting for new EAAS officers in Paris, and that it was primarily aimed at ensuring that the work of non-English speaking people writing in English was given due attention.

m)     The Chair has worked with Professor James Dunkerley of the Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA) to reinstitute several of the named lectures, including the Caroline Robbins Lecture (previously hosted by the IUSS), which will now be co-sponsored by the ISA and the British Group of Early American Historians (BGEAH) who focus on 18th century history.

n) The Chair has been in consultation with Martin Padget and Will Kaufman regarding the production of a brochure on American Studies alumni and their career paths. WK noted that MP had collected the responses to surveys of AS graduates; WK is now leading the project on writing a recruitment brochure for the Area Studies box as a means of recruiting school children into AS. WK is now to liaise with HL on this; IR is also involved in the production of the brochure. The brochure will be produced in same format as the one in the Language Box by John Canning (Southampton); the subject centre will produce it. It will also be available electronically. JC has sent helpful list of topics/areas that need to be written about.

5. Secretary’s Business

a) The Secretary noted that most of the items she now receives come electronically and are thus distributed to the Committee as she receives them (eg, The Charity Commission Newsletter). She also noted that with the help of JD, she had circulated an email to the Committee about the Academy of Learned Societies and nominations to various committees involved. This is now in hand.

b) HM had previously circulated the minutes of the AGM; after minor amendments, these were approved and will now go on the website and in the next issue of ASIB.

c) HM reported that she had updated the Standing Orders (previously circulated) and asked the Committee to approve them. After minor amendments, GT proposed their acceptance, and JV seconded the motion; there was unanimous agreement. This now means that a new subcommittee, Awards, has been established.

d) HM reported on other actions taken as Secretary, which included the following: liaising with new members of the Committee as well as new co-opts to ensure that they had full information; updating our contact information and committee membership information; helping direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources, including the postgraduate representatives responsible for the November conference; distributing calls for papers, conferences, new employment opportunities, etc., through the listserv; forwarding queries about mailing lists to the Treasurer; updating our records with national surveys/records esp. in relation to the STAs and other awards; writing BAAS’s response to the AHRC questionnaire on Modern History (thanks were extended to Committee members who had assisted with this).

e) HM noted that she had, in response to the call for information that had gone out on the mailbase, updated the BAAS Externals list and distributed it to interested parties. She also updated information on it where she was aware of individuals with changed circumstances, though it is clear that unless individuals update it themselves, some entries may be out of date. Nevertheless, it is becoming a much more substantial document. Committee members were reminded that they should consider adding their own details if appropriate. Thanks were extended to CE for her work on the mailbase.

f)   HM noted that in response to yet more queries about the newspaper database, she had liaised with GT, who had helpfully added even more notices about the fact that BAAS does not hold these newspapers.

g) HM reported that she had forwarded queries about JAS (advertising and submission of manuscripts) to the appropriate individuals. It was agreed that the website should provide more information about JAS so that individuals are aware of the relationship between JAS and BAAS. Details of the appropriate individuals to contact should also be added. SC and GT will liaise about this.

h) HM reported that along with CS, she had been presented to Her Majesty the Queen at the official opening of the Princess Margaret Memorial Garden at the Rothermere in May 2006. Also in attendance were the US Ambassador, Committee members JV and CM, and several prominent BAAS members such as Michael Heale and Philip Davies.

i)   HM reported that she had been informed of the serious illness of some BAAS members and had been asked if BAAS offered an organizational response. Past practice is that we note deaths, but for a variety of reasons, including privacy, BAAS has not sought to publicly disseminate information on members’ illnesses. It was agreed that this was an appropriate policy.

j)   HM also noted that she had been approached about establishing a “Lifetime Achievement” award; the Committee debated the pros and cons of such an award. It was agreed that since this was a complex issue, it needed to be referred to the Awards Committee for further discussion at the autumn meeting.

k) A discussion followed on funding for named awards; it was agreed that information on how the named awards came into existence should be part of the next ASIB. SN is to liaise with PD about this. SN is also to liaise with Peter Thompson, who had done some early work on bequests, so that BAAS could formulate a statement about bequests.

6. Treasurer’s Business

a) The Treasurer reported that current membership figures for fully paid up members stand at 407 members, including 138 postgraduates. When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 492 (161 postgraduates). The highest possible membership figures (taking into account the above and those who have yet to return for 2006) are 592 (including 211 postgraduates).

b) Balances on 30 June are as follows: Current account, £1,406.49; Conference, £8,269.96; Lib. Res., £2.76; Education and Development, £4,953.90; STA, £17,876.48; Deposit, £17,536.26; making a total of £50,045.85. In addition, the RBS Jersey account has £14,876.57, and US dollar account has $3,629.99.

c) GT reported that the mileage allowance has gone up to 40p/mile to bring it into line with other associations and government practice.

d) GT informed the Committee about aspects of the new Charities Bill going through Parliament; it will affect BAAS because it will affect all educational associations. Because of the new accountancy regulations, the accountant’s fee will rise by 10%. In addition, we will now need to submit a trustees’ report which proves that we are providing public benefit in addition to the Chair’s report to the AGM that we currently submit; thus we will be more accountable for how we distribute our funds. GT has downloaded the new proforma about this from the website.

e) GT reported that it is likely that the Kent conference accounts will be closed by the end of the month. Early figures suggest that there will be a small shortfall of a few hundred pounds.

f)   GT noted that he had paid money into the Leicester conference account as per our discussions at the last meeting. This money, £2500, which came from the Manchester conference, has paid for the deposit on the Athena venue amongst other early costs.

g) GT reported that the PayPal system is now set up, for the benefit of international subscribers. As confirmed at the last meeting, a small charge for this service will be passed on to those who seek to pay this way. When the renewals notice goes out in 2007, GT will note the availability if this option; it is already noted on the web.

h) GT reported that work on GiftAid is still on going, but he hopes to be able to make progress on it over the summer and report back to the next meeting. The problems include keeping track of who pays what, and how much, etc. CS asked whether it was worth considering starting claiming from now, and not to make an earlier claim. GT responded that the amount we could receive is actually quite substantial, so it is worth the effort. It is likely that he will make a claim for last year first, and then work backwards. SN suggested that we could pay a postgraduate to help with this since it is worth doing. This was agreed.

7. Development Subcommittee (IS reporting)

a) IS reported that from the next meeting, he would chair the Awards Subcommittee, and Richard Crockatt would take over the leadership of the Development Subcommittee. IS reported on continuing discussions with Philip Davies and the Eccles Centre regarding the proposed fellowships. Further paperwork needs to be done before the fellowships get final approval from the British Library, so it is likely that this will be an agenda item at the autumn meeting. IS reported that he has been able to find an administrative assistant to help coordinate this award, Michelle Smith, a graduate of Manchester University. She would also be able to coordinate some of the other awards work if the Embassy funding bid is successful, since that includes support for administration. It is anticipated that the Eccles Centre will offer £1000 for administrative support.

b) IS noted that he will liaise further with RC on the Embassy application for 2006-07 and funds we hope to receive; it is likely that the outcome of the bids will be known by the next meeting. The Subcommittee considered such issues as advertising, marketing, and online applications.

c) IS reported on provisional dates for next year’s awards: Book Prize, 1 December; STA and Founders, 15 December; Ambassador’s Awards and the Monticello Teachers’ Fellowship, 26 January; postgraduate essay prize, 16 Feb.

d) IS reported that the Subcommittee had considered four grant applications, and they made recommendations as to the amounts to be awarded which they asked the Committee to approve: for the BAAS postgraduate conference in Nottingham to subsidize travel, £300; for the British Group of Early American Historians (BGEAH) conference in the autumn to support postgraduate attendance and travel, submitted by Peter Thompson, £200; for the annual schools’ conference held at Liverpool, submitted by IR, £200, and for the annual Congress to Campus UK tour, submitted by P Davies, £200. The Committee approved these applications.

e) IS noted that as Development Subcommittee Chair, he sat on Area Studies board for the past few years; RC as new chair will now take up this position.

f)   IS reported on postgraduate business, focusing on the new EAAS initiative, organized by JV, to set up a network of contacts with other European associations. JM is taking this forward. It was also agreed that JM would encourage European postgraduates to attend the November postgraduate conference in Nottingham.

g) IS also noted that the subcommittee discussed the PGCE project on A Levels already noted under Chair’s business.

8. Publications Subcommittee (CS reporting)

a) CS reported that KM was unable to attend or supply a BRRAM report, but he will be in a position to do so for the autumn meeting.

b) In relation to the EUP BAAS series, CS noted that two much needed books have been contracted: T Saxon is writing a book on theatre and Kasia Boddy is writing a book on the short story.

c) CS reported that the main business of the subcommittee was in agreeing nominations for the JAS editorial board to put forward to the full committee, and thanking retiring members. The process of selecting editorial board members for the current 8 vacancies was a rigorous one which included the editor, the associate editor (currently the editor elect), and the subcommittee, all of whom reviewed the CVs of potential members. Board members are considered in relation to the need to include academics from different continents, the range of expertise in American Studies and specific subjects and areas of research interest. The Subcommittee proposed that the following current members be asked to serve another term: Prof. Janet Beer, Prof. Eileen Boris, Prof. John Dumbrell, and Prof. Walter W. Hölbling. It was also proposed that Prof. Sacvan Bercovitch remain on the board. These nominations were approved. Thanks were extended to board members who have completed their terms of office, including Christopher Clark, Theo D’haen, and Professor Mick Gidley. We wish Prof. Gidley well on his retirement from Leeds.

d) The following new members of the board were proposed: Prof Ian Bell (Keele), Prof. Sabine Broeck (Bremen), Dr. Marina Moskowitz (Glasgow). These individuals offer a wide range of experience, and have the expertise to comment helpfully on the newest areas of American Studies as well as more traditional aspects. These individuals maintain the high prestige of the JAS board, but also lay seeds for the next generation. A long discussion about these candidates followed, after which the Committee approved these new members. The Secretary will now write to the CUP syndics with our nominations.

e) CS noted that Rachel Bowlby, Judie Newman, and Alan Trachtenberg would be coming to the end of their terms of office at the end of December. In considering replacements, the Committee was asked to email CS with potential nominations in the areas of music, popular culture, visual and contemporary art, and television studies and were reminded that the board included a wide range of eminent scholars; it was noted that it was not a prerequisite that nominations already be professors. Members were also reminded of the protocol of nominations, and that they should not approach anyone directly themselves. It was hoped that some CVs would be available for discussion at the January meeting.

f)   CS noted that Linda Kerber had been invited to give the JAS/CUP lecture at Leicester: She is the former chair of the ASA and the current chair of the American Historical Association. She will hold the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professorship of American History at Oxford next year and be a fellow of Queen’s College.

g) CS noted that the next ASIB deadline is 13 August. In this issue, there will be an advertisement for BRRAM as per our new contract. It was noted that the ASIB includes a number of flyers, and will be distributed with Resources for American Studies. Currently CM only had one student to help her with the mailing and asked if this could be increased to two, both paid £50 for their assistance. This was agreed.

h) CS reminded the Committee that an advertisement had gone out for the editorship of US Studies Online, to replace Elizabeth Rosen whose term of office is coming to an end. Thanks were extended to ER and we wished her well in her new appointment in Philadelphia. It was agreed that in the future, the post would be of a two-year duration. ER had suggested that instead of a rolling deadline, that two firm deadlines were offered per year: one for the postgraduate conference, and another. It was agreed that this was a good idea. It was also agreed that more should be done to reach out to European postgraduates; JM will liaise with the current and new editor about this.

i)   CS reported that the website continues to attract attention, and that postgraduates had reported it to be particularly useful, especially the links to journals.

9. Conference Subcommittee (JV reporting)

a) In SM’s absence, JV and GT co-chaired the subcommittee. JV reported that the CFP for Leicester has gone out and will go out in various formats. So far, there are 31 proposals from 9 countries, which is very positive, given that the deadline isn’t until the end of October. A final call will go out at the end of September. The conference poster is in preparation and will be produced as soon as the three plenaries are absolutely confirmed.

b) JV reported that the Leicester programme committee is in process of being formed, with the assistance of postgraduates; GL is hoping to set up one day for secondary teachers and invite local teachers for free; the only cost involved for us would be the teachers’ lunch. This was agreed. There are plans to put the abstracts online before the conference; this is likely to help recruitment. Leicester has brand new accommodation going up with all rooms en suite; the accommodation is very close to the places where sessions will be held, and the publishers’ stalls will be in a marquee next to the dining hall. The Saturday banquet will be in Athena, an old art deco cinema; the plan is to have a plenary and then the meal there. The Friday night entertainment will be provided by Will Kaufman. There will also be a disco. A late license for the bar has been arranged.

c) JV raised the issue of the timing of the AGM. It was agreed that this year, the AGM would be held on the Friday rather than the Saturday; it was thought that this might aid attendance; this also means that there is no rush from the AGM to the banquet as has happened in previous years. There will be an early call for nominations for positions on the Committee, and an announcement will be placed in the autumn ASIB, since the Chair is one of the positions that will fall vacant.

d) It was agreed that, on the condition that there were sufficient proposals, papers would also be presented on Sunday. It was noted that there will always be problems with “conference drift” which mean that individuals sometimes leave early, but the experience of the Kent conference shows that unless there are papers on Sunday, delegates will leave even earlier on Saturday. This is another reason to hold the banquet on the Saturday evening. JV made the point that Committee members in particular should show leadership by staying until the end of the conference.

e) JV reported that the conference prices are still estimated at £275 for full BAAS members and £235 for postgraduate members. All rooms are en suite.

f)   JV reported that the conference organizers are linking into various historical events for the conference, including the 50th anniversary of Sputnik.

g) It was agreed that chairs of panel sessions should be organized prior to the conference opening wherever possible, that chairs should be fully informed about their roles, and that members of the Committee should be called upon to assist.

h) The 2008 conference will be held at Edinburgh, and the Conference Secretary, Robert Mason, attended the morning meeting. JV reported that this conference is likely to be an expensive one because accommodation is expensive in Edinburgh, with any inexpensive accommodation unlikely to be suitable. There are plans to try to book the Scottish Parliament as a venue. Committee members asked if there was any connection with the STAR project in Edinburgh, and SM will be asked to contact RM about this issue. There were also questions raised about the protocol of inviting consular staff as well as the Ambassador to this conference; SM and SN are to contact Sue Wedlake for advice.

i)   The 2009 conference will be held at Nottingham. The conference secretary has yet to be confirmed.

j)   As noted under the Treasurer’s report, the accounts will be finalized soon from Canterbury.

10. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (IR reporting)

a) IR reported that the last meeting was 14 June to finalize issues and to consider further developments. As already noted, Resources for American Studies will be sent out to all BAAS members with the ASIB and an additional 250 others who are on a separate BLARS mailing list will receive a copy.

b) IR noted that confirmation had been received that the subcommittee will be receiving funding from the US Embassy for the journal and also from two publishers, which should cover the additional costs. Thanks were extended to all members of the subcommittee and to Matthew Shaw for the work as editor on the journal.

c) IR reported that the next major project for the subcommittee was deciding on the next database to construct. Two calls for suggestions have gone out on the mailbase, but the subcommittee has agreed to put a notice in the next ASIB about the project and ask individuals to contact Kevin Halliwell, special projects officer, with their ideas. It is crucial that the project is seen as relevant to members and so it was felt that the more consultation that could be done, the better.

d) IR also noted that the subcommittee had made the first draft revisions to the Standing Orders for their subcommittee, which was passed on to the Secretary for incorporation into the overall Standing Orders. IR thanked all members of the subcommittee for their positive and constructive comments.

11. EAAS (JV reporting)

a) JV reported that she had attended a handover meeting in Paris for new officers, and that this had been a good meeting.

b) JV noted that the postgraduate list is being gathered and email contacts are being made; JM has been involved with this.

c) JV reported that the final version of call for papers for EAAS conference in Oslo is now out and will be distributed in a variety of ways, including the mailbase and the ASIB.

d) JV noted that there is a continuous call for papers for EJAS, the new online journal.

e) JV reported that two BAAS postgraduates had been successful in their applications for travel grants: Emma Barber, who is working on the effects of the Civil War on the medical profession, was awarded 1300 euros; Tara Stubbs, who is working on Marianne Moore and Irish heritage, was awarded 1400 euros. Congratulations were extended to them.

f)   JV asked Committee members to send her any information that they have on past EAAS representatives so that we have a full list for the archive. Mick Gidley has already responded fully. Once the list is complete, JV will send it to the Secretary.

12. Any Other Business

a) HM to circulate new updated list of contact details. There was no other business.

13. Date of next meeting

16 September 2006, King’s College London.

Dr Heidi Macpherson, Secretary
Phone (office): (01772) 893039 or 893020
Fax: (01772) 892924