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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 248


Meeting 248

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: September 16, 2006

Minutes of the 248th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at King’s College London on September 16, 2006.

1. Present

S Newman (Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), G Thompson (Treasurer), R Crockatt, S MacLachlan, J Metcalf, T Saxon, I Scott, J Virden.


C Smith (Vice Chair), J Davies, M Halliwell, W Kaufman, J Kleinberg, H Lowe, C Morley, I Ralston

In Attendance

S Castillo, Robert Mason

2. Minutes of the Previous Meetings

After minor typographical corrections, these were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website. It was noted that John Dumbrell is moving to Durham in January (not September as originally reported).

3. Matters Arising and Review of Action List

IS confirmed that the US Embassy had been written to regarding the grant. GT reported that several updates to the web had been completed, including the updating of award deadlines. In addition, there is now more information about JAS on the web. All other matters arising had been completed or would be discussed further down on the agenda.

4. Chair’s Business

a) The Chair attended the Independence Day party hosted by the US Ambassador at Winfield House on 4 July.

b) SN noted that the AHRC and the ESRC used the summer period for subject-wide consultations. SN noted that he had sent three different messages to American Studies heads of departments and programmes: the first asked them to submit information about application and success rates of students applying for AHRC postgraduate funding, the second urged them to respond to a questionnaire issued by the American Studies Association as part of its international initiative, and the third asked for individual responses on RAE reform. SN reported that he had drafted and submitted the BAAS response to the Department for Education and Skills consultation on reform of the Research Assessment Exercise. SN had previously circulated his response to the Committee via email. He also submitted a response to the ESRC survey on their 3+1 postgraduate funding programme, as it relates to Area Studies; it was not clear how much long term effect this would have for BAAS. SN also responded to the AHRC consultation on its Strategic Plan.

c) SN noted correspondence received, including a message from Mary Scott-Fleming of the Monticello-Stratford Hall Program, applauding BAAS’s choice of both teachers, John Siblon and Kath Cooper, noting that they contributed greatly to the teachers’ seminar. IS is exploring the possibility of contacting the TES about this project to boost the profile of American Studies. SN also received a circular from the QAA announcing that drafts of the revised subject benchmarks for various subjects are now available online, including English, History, and Politics and International Relations. Responses are requested by 31 October. Committee members are encouraged to look at the website and report their views to SN for incorporation into the BAAS response.

d) SN reported that HEFCE have announced a “town meeting” for representatives of subject associations on 25 September 2006 at Warwick. He was registered to attend, but is unable to go, so HM will attend on behalf of BAAS. This is likely to be the last chance for input on what will take the place of the RAE after 2008.

e) SN reported that the most recent list of AHRC Research Leave awards shows a decline in the success rate for American Studies, down to three in the last round. The success rate for postgraduate funding shows some cause for concern, given that thus far, no respondents have reported American Studies students securing funding for PhD studies. American Studies has some success in the postgraduate panel on media studies; those applying through the History or English panels, however, are not having much success. Some concern was raised that interdisiciplinarity, despite being a stated goal of the AHRC, was hard to realize in practice, and some discussion ensued about the feasibility or desirability of an interdisciplinary panel, and/or of asking for ring-fenced awards in American Studies. SN noted, for example, how the peer review college training promotes interdisciplinarity and is very good. The AHRC director of research will be at the conference and members will have a chance to talk to him. RC suggested that SN send a letter to the AHRC to ensure that they are aware of the issues we are raising, explaining what we see is the problem and asking for guidance on what they think we should do. Committee members are asked to email SN with ideas about issues they would like to see addressed.

f) SN noted that Ali Fischer has confirmed that all four of the remaining interviews of past chairs of BAAS have now been completed, and he is transcribing the interviews for the BAAS archives at the University of Birmingham. AF will also write a short piece about them for ASIB. SN is to write to AF to remind him to send the Secretary a list of the questions he had asked.

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. She also noted that the summer period had been a quieter quarter than usual.

b) HM reported that she had written to Joe Mottershead at CUP to confirm our JAS editorial board member nominations. JM has now left CUP to take up a PGCE and has been replaced by Martine Walsh; the Committee expressed their thanks to JM for his hard work.

c) HM reported on other actions taken as Secretary, which included the following: attending the JAS editorial board meeting on Friday the 15th of September along with the Chair and the Treasurer; writing a notice for the ASIB regarding the AGM, noting the change of date and the offices that will fall vacant; helping direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources; distributing calls for papers, conferences, new employment opportunities, etc., through the listserv; updating our records with national surveys/records especially in relation to the STAs and other awards; forwarding queries about JAS (advertising and submission of manuscripts) to the appropriate individuals. It had been agreed at the last meeting that the website should provide more information about JAS so that individuals are made aware of the relationship between JAS and BAAS, and this has begun to happen. HM noted a need to update the list of editorial board members and the instructions for contributors given the change in editors; she also asked the editor-elect to write a note for inclusion on the web regarding how advertisers could get in touch with her. Details of the appropriate individuals to contact should also be added. SC and GT will continue to liaise about this.

d) The Secretary reported that she had corresponded with Philip Davies (Eccles Centre) who noted that the Eccles Centre still has a large role to play in relation to the Guide to American Studies. For example, the Eccles website will still have a section devoted to the guide. Instead of the current text, the webpage will contain direct links to every taught undergraduate and postgraduate course that they know of in the UK. In addition, the Eccles Centre will distribute printed posters to 4000 secondary schools in the UK advertising the opportunity to take American Studies. HM circulated a copy of the poster as well as a copy of the links pages. The Committee agreed that this was a positive way forward, as more students are likely to hear about American Studies as a result of this poster. Colleagues are reminded to check their university’s details and ensure that they are up to date. See

e) HM was interviewed on a BBC Radio Lancashire programme on the 4th of July celebrations.

f) HM asked if the web page could be updated to note specifically that members who change their details should contact the Treasurer. GT agreed to do this.

6. Treasurer’s Business

a) The Treasurer circulated a short written report on membership and balances. This report noted that current membership figures for fully paid up members stand at 420 members, including 140 postgraduates. When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 497 (161 postgraduates). The highest possible membership figures (taking into account the above and those who have yet to return for 2006) are 597 (including 211 postgraduates).

b) Balances on 31 August were as follows: Deposit, £18,020.14; STA, £16,871.48; Current account, £814.80; Lib. Res., £2.76 (pending transfer of £1400 from General Deposit Account); Education and Development, £4,953.90; Conference, £8,019.96; making a total of £48,963.04. In addition, the RBS Jersey account has £14,876.57, and US dollar account has $4,153.24.

c) GT reported that he had submitted the Charity Commission annual monitoring form.

d) GT noted that he had received a £4000 cheque from the US Embassy for the Benjamin Franklin prize, which was then paid to Matthew Pethers. MP will need to keep a full record of expenditure for accounting purposes. GT also noted the receipt of £1400 pounds for the library resources newsletter from the US Embassy.

e) GT reported that he has not had a good response to his mailing asking members to update their standing orders (of the 90 letters sent out, there were only 10 replies). Thus these individuals will not be considered full members and will not receive JAS nor are they eligible to vote at the AGM.

f) GT reported that three people have subscribed through PayPal; it is likely that this figure will increase when renewals are due in January.

g) GT noted that he had become the contact for the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences and he circulated their report.

h) In relation to Gift Aid, GT reported on progress made. Based on records available, from 2001-02 onwards, the forms and signatures for Gift Aid through to 2005-06 suggest that there is £14,334 which is eligible for us to claim Gift Aid on; if this claim is accepted by the Inland Revenue, BAAS would receive about £4000 back. Other money is still to be identified, so the final total may be closer to £5000. GT will work towards finalizing the figures over the next few months and will submit a claim around the time of the next meeting. GT noted the need to ensure that the wording of the declaration form is correct. Thanks were extended to GT for making progress on this, as it was a complicated procedure and had been ongoing for many years.

7. Development Subcommittee (RC reporting)

a) RC reported that this was his first meeting as Chair and that the Subcommittee is still in transition; because of the number of apologies received, Development met in conjunction with the Awards Subcommittee again this meeting. This is likely to be the last time that the Subcommittees meet together.

b) RC reported that Subcommittee had considered a bid for funding for a southwest regional conference/forum to be held in May next year from Dr. Mark Whalan (Exeter). Funding was sought to support the travel of a key note speaker, Prof. Susan Castillo; the Subcommittee recommended funding the £254.50 requested, to support travel at an economy fare, with the balance going towards postgraduate support. This was approved. It was noted that MW will need to write a one-page report after the event for the records; the Committee was interested, for example, in how the southwest would be defined.

c) RC reported on discussions surrounding the promotion of American Studies. The US Embassy has granted the LLAS £19,000 to look at the recruitment of British students to American Studies/Area Studies. Sarah Wood, a Birmingham postgraduate, is putting material together on the basis of a report by John Canning and Dick Ellis, with assistance by WK who has worked with the BAAS graduate survey. This material will take the form of a CD and a leaflet. SN noted that BAAS’s interest is primarily in the recruitment leaflet; it is in our best interest to have a large number of extra copies distributed to all American Studies departments/centres to send to local students and to have available for open days. It has yet to be decided how many BAAS should request and pay for; SN suggested as many as 2000 per programme. More information is needed before these numbers can be finalized. RC is to make contact with S Wood and will report on progress at the January meeting.

d) RC reported that in the last LLAS minutes, there had been a request for closer relations with BAAS; it was agreed that the Chair of the LLAS Advisory board should be invited to the BAAS conference dinner. RC is to liaise with SN and GL about the invitation, which is likely to be extended after the LLAS board meeting in January. SN will send the official letter.

e) RC reported on behalf of the Awards Committee on the Eccles Centre Fellowship: An initial contract has now been signed for this new award, which will be administered by the Awards Subcommittee and will run until 2008 in the first instance. The programme is more extensive than originally envisioned with £15k per year for up to 9 awards: 1 US fellowship, 3 British fellowships and up to 5 postgraduate awards worth £400 each to use the collections at the British Library. There is £1k allocated for administrative assistance. IS will monitor this carefully to be sure that this is at the correct level. SN noted that administration costs are also part of Embassy funding, and it will be important to keep a strict accounting of this. If the administrative costs rise significantly, it may be possible to renegotiate aspects of the contract at a later date. The awards will be judged by the Director of the Eccles Centre; a Canadianist from the British Association for Canadian Studies; and a member of the British Association for American Studies. It was agreed that in the first year, it would be beneficial to ensure that a member of the Executive Committee was on the panel. It was further agreed that this should be someone from the Awards Subcommittee. HM reminded the Committee that the Subcommittee could co-opt additional members to the Subcommittee as per the Standing Orders.

f) RC noted that Matthew Pethers, the winner of the Ben Franklin Prize, is required as part of the award to offer a presentation to the BAAS Conference in April. IS is to liaise with GL about this.

g) RC reported that JM had offered a full report about postgraduate business. She has now received a list of postgraduate representatives in European countries and is liaising with her counterparts there. JM has also requested updated BAAS flyers about awards/membership for the BAAS postgraduate Conference; IS is to construct a flyer about awards, and HM will send an electronic copy of the updated BAAS flyer to JM and/or to Ceri Gorton who is organizing the conference. It was reported that the US Embassy has generously funded the postgraduate conference, offering £1100. Thanks were extended to them.

h) RC reported that HL has liaised with GL about the possibility of a “teachers day” at the annual conference.

8. Publications Subcommittee (HM reporting on CS’s behalf)

a) In CS’s absence, HM chaired the Subcommittee. She reported that KM had offered a very comprehensive report on BRRAM, highlighting current and future projects as well as opportunities taken to promote the series at relevant conferences. The Edward Long Papers and the Bolton Whitman papers had both been released. New projects include “Records relating to Liverpool merchants and the slave trade in the Liverpool Record Office” and a project on the Darien scheme, a 17th-century Scottish colonisation venture in Central America, using resources of the National Library of Scotland. Work continues on a future title on Anglo-American relations, as well as a project on the Lascelles’ West Indian family papers held in Yorkshire. It was regretfully decided not to pursue a BRRAM title on Liverpool emigrant records of the 19th century because the materials were not as extensive as first thought. The new written agreement between BAAS and MAP is working well, and the latest issue of the ASIB had an advertisement for BRRAM on the back page as per the agreement. A new procedure for agreeing editors with the chair of the Publications Subcommittee was agreed. KM noted the difficulty of securing specialist academic editors for these titles because of the pressures of academic research in relation to the RAE; this was likely to be an outgoing issue. The Subcommittee agreed to liaise with KM about potential editors.

b) The EUP series continues to go well; SN circulated a list of updated figures and titles.

c) HM reported on the JAS editorial board meeting on 15/9/06. It was the last board meeting with JK as editor, who offered a full report on the year’s activities but was unable to attend the Publications Subcommittee meeting. Readership of JAS has increased because of the new relationship between JAS and BAAS, and the journal is also growing in stature and reputation. JK attended a Journal Editors’ Committee meeting at the ASA last year and also attended the British Academy meeting on peer review (in relation to journals). A full report on marketing and statistics was offered at the JAS meeting.

d) HM reported that there continue to be vacancies on the JAS editorial board that will need to be filled, particularly in the areas of art and music, sculpture, and architecture, as well as Asian American and African American literature. At the JAS meeting thanks to Jay were minuted and she was presented with flowers. The BAAS Committee also recorded their thanks.

e) HM reported that the latest ASIB was posted out this past week, and went out with the library and resources journal. There were a lot of new members listed, including teacher members and US members. The printers, Goaters, have been taken over, but this hasn’t affected the printing. The next ASIB deadline is 11 January 2007.

f) HM reported that Elizabeth Boyle (Sheffield) has been appointed to the position of US Studies Online Editor for a term of two years. CS will write to welcome her and to thank Liz Rosen for her hard work as editor.

g) The website continues to be an important resource and averages 910 unique visitors every day. Thanks were extended to GT for his work as webster.

9. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

a) SM reported that the Leicester conference plans continue to run smoothly. The plenary lectures are now finalized: Stephen Whitfield will present a lecture, Richard King will present the Eccles Lecture, and Linda Kerber will present the JAS/CUP Lecture. All of the plenary addresses are listed on the poster, which will be sent out with the final cfp shortly, along with the booking form, which is nearly complete. This booking form will also go out on the BAAS website. Abstracts will be put online as soon as is practical after the deadline for the cfp. Costs have remained virtually unchanged, with the cost for full residential BAAS members set at £280. The accommodation has now been built and catering arrangements have been finalized. Leicester is in touch with the National Space Centre and there is likely to be a Sputnik event with a special guest speaker arranged by the NSC. There has been a good selection of papers received so far, and a postgraduate team is in place to help with the organization.

b) SM reported that GL has produced a valuable document indicating which services were and were not VAT exempt Although this may be slightly different for each institution, it was still good practice and could form part of the conference briefing pack. It was agreed that publishers’ fees could not be set in stone from year to year, but that indicative costs should also be part of the briefing pack for new Conference Organizers. The Subcommittee also discussed a draft timetable for conference organization and this will be revised and included in futre conference briefing packs.

c) SM reported that the Edinburgh Conference dates have been finalized as 27-30 March 2008.

d) SM noted that the members of the Subcommittee will visit Edinburgh by the end of January and are likely to stay in the proposed accommodation at Pollock. This is a 25 minute walk from the city centre, and there will be further discussions about this, including the possibility of transport links. The Subcommittee were provided with maps and lists of preliminary charges and breakdowns of costs. Discussions with STAR are ongoing and more developments are likely in the next few weeks.

e) SM reported that the Nottingham conference (2009) was discussed briefly; at the next School meeting at Nottingham, the name of the Conference Secretary will be finalized. Dates are yet to be decided.

f) SM reported that there are discussions ongoing regarding future conferences, from 2010 onwards.

g) SM noted that she will contact Sue Wedlake this week regarding Embassy/Consulate protocols for the Edinburgh conference.

10. Awards (IS reporting)

a) IS reported that Michelle Smith, the new administrative liaison for the Awards Subcommittee, is now on board. She will have a space to work at Manchester University and a PC. IS will liaise with GT about ensuring that MS has a BAAS email address.

b) IS noted that there were 32 awards to be administered this year.

11. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee

a) In IR’s absence, and given that the next Library and Resources Subcommittee meets after this Executive meeting, there was no report to be offered.

12. EAAS (JV reporting)

a) JV reported that she had written a substantial entry in the ASIB on EAAS; she had also written about BAAS for the EAAS newsletter, which is due out shortly. She noted that her main role was acting as a conduit of information between the organizations. The EAAS newsletter will also have the cfp for the Oslo conference and guidelines for organizing a workshop. This will also be advertised on the EAAS website.

b) The Committee noted that in April, the position of the EAAS representative will be up for election, but that in the meantime, JV had become the Secretary General of EAAS. Thus, it was agreed that, from the summer meeting onwards, JV should be invited to come to the BAAS meetings with ex officio status, in addition to the new EAAS representative.

13. Any Other Business

a) The Secretary raised the issue of attendance at BAAS Executive Committee meetings, and a full discussion ensued about appropriate dates and locations. It was noted that it had been particularly difficult to find a suitable autumn date, but it was hoped that this would not be an issue for the winter meeting. The Northwest continues to be the most cost-efficient location for meetings.

14. Date of next meeting

Friday 12 January at MMU starting at 10am

Prof. Heidi Macpherson, Secretary.
Phone (office): (01772) 893039 or 893040
Fax: (01772) 892924