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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 253


Meeting 253

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: January 11, 2008

Minutes of the 253rd meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Nottingham on January 11, 2008.

1. Present

H Macpherson (Chair), C Morley (Secretary) G Thompson (Treasurer), R Crockatt, P
Davies, M Halliwell, W Kaufman, G Lewis, T Saxon, I Scott, J Virden.

I Bell, P Blackburn, S Castillo, J Davies, R Ellis, S MacLachlan, J Metcalf.

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

After minor corrections, these were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.

3. Matters Arising

Action List Review

4. Chair’s Business

(a) Promotions/Appointments/Awards
Martin Halliwell has been invited to join the AHRC Postgraduate Panel 3 (English Language and Literature) for a full 3-year term, from 2007 to 2010. Professor Halliwell has also been appointed Head of School of English at Leicester from Autumn 2008.
Neil Wynn was made Professor of American Studies at the University of Gloucester.
At the University of Aberystwyth Professor Tim Woods has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Arts, from Sept 2007.
In April, Tony Parker (Dundee) was invited to a special reception for the Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in recognition of his ‘International contribution to the life and culture of the people of Scotland.’
James Dunkerley wrote to HM to note that the HEFCE review of the School of Advanced Study, to which ISA belongs, has recommended continued funding on a 10% uplift through to 2012. He also mentioned in his correspondence that the position of ISA Director is still out for advertisement.

(b) Invitations/Events
HM attended Professor Susan Castillo’s Inaugural lecture at King’s College London on 27 November 2007.
HM attended the UKCASA AGM in London on 4 December. Minutes circulated.
HM met with Penny Egan, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission, on 19 December. This was a meeting which was originally scheduled to occur in July. Their meeting in London focused on how BAAS and the Fulbright Commission might work together more closely. Fulbright have agreed to display the BAAS brochure and HM agreed that BAAS will advertise their awards proactively on the website and through the mailbase. In addition, BAAS and Fulbright are going to establish further talks via the Awards Subcommittee about future collaborations on prizes.
HM declined the invitation to Christmas drinks on 10 December from the Minister of the Embassy and Mrs Richard LeBaron.
HM attended a meeting in Edinburgh for the AHRC regarding new funding arrangements and represented BAAS’s views.

(c) Consultation
On behalf of BAAS, HM replied to a variety of consultation exercises.
Knowledge transfer. HM has put BAAS’s views forward firmly.
GT drafted a letter to the AHRC which HM sent out as Chair of BAAS to the AHRC noting our disappointment that the new postgraduate funding system still fails to recognize American Studies as a subject, despite recognizing other Area Studies. Thanks are extended to GT for his efforts on this. There has been no reply as yet. HM will circulate the letter to the committee. MH will attend a block grant meeting in London on 21 January and will raise the issue there.
ERIH (European Reference Index for the Humanities): The Literature list was supposed to be in place by the end of October, but has still not been published and there is no indication on the website as to when this might be happening. HM will keep this under review. Simon Newman has reported that the editors of the Journal of American History have responded directly to the ESF on the new online forms to object to their category B rating
Joseph Rowntree report on Ethical Guidance: HM indicated that BAAS as an organization does not stipulate ethical guidance as it expects its members to abide by the guidance offered by their individual institutions.
HM responded on behalf of BAAS to a consultation from the British Library on the usefulness and quality of research outputs published in India and China, in order to inform its future collecting from these parts of the world.
HM is filing out an online survey on BAAS’s behalf regarding the economic impact of our research for a British Academy/LSE project; HM also ensured that the open access public response survey was disseminated via the mailbase. HM asked the committee for feedback sooner rather than later.
HM will shortly reply to a British Academy consultation on the ERIH and Metrics-Based research assessment. All members of the Exec are invited to contribute guidance and advice. IS suggested that the question of methodology needed to be raised. PD noted that metrics was inevitable and said that UKCASA’s approach (largely the initiative of Dick Ellis) was to examine the research framework proposal and suggest ways of using the metrics system. HM acknowledged PD’s point – noted that if metrics is to happen then BAAS needs to be driving it rather than responding to it. IS reiterated the need to see how the system (which seems to be based on a STEM subject model) would work in relation to monographs, co-edited volumes and journal articles. HM noted that there seemed to be no concrete proposals in terms of how this would work for the Arts and Humanities. HM recommended that the Exec read the REF documents and send responses to her.
Dick Ellis is the BAAS representative on a UKCASA committee to respond to the REF (Research Excellence Framework). See Again, members of the committee are invited to contribute guidance and advice. Deadline for responses is 14 February.
HM noted that recently the QAA Subject Benchmarks underwent minimal revisions (ended in November).

(d) Miscellaneous

HM was able to direct various media people and academics to appropriate sources for a variety of subjects, including the history of the hula hoop and more commonly, the US elections.
HM noted that Professor James Dunkerley would like to propose another meeting of HoDs of AS. HM will liaise with Professor Dunkerley to arrange a meeting. JV and MH suggested that May might be a useful point in the academic calendar for this meeting.

5. Secretary’s Business

(a) CM noted that, as usual, her main role revolved around information flow. She helped direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources; directed potential PhD candidates to appropriate members of the subject community; updated the BAAS Externals List; fielded enquires for bibliographic assistance from many overseas academics; directed queries regarding awards to Ian Scott; and is about to update the Charities Commission information with details of the committee members.
(b) CM liaised with Michelle Hodges of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board regarding the possibility of holding future BAAS conferences or events in Northern Ireland. CM directed Ms Hodges to the University of Ulster and Queens in Belfast as the best starting point in her efforts to bring academic events to Northern Ireland.
(c) CM wrote to the CUP syndics regarding the recommendation to renominate Professor David Seed to the JAS Editorial Board.
(d) CM also wrote to Martine Walsh regarding the possibility of locating the required volumes 1-27 of JAS which are necessary for full digitization.
(e) CM liaised at length with William Solesbury of the AcSS regarding a Knowledge Transfer project. She filled out various forms and questionnaires on behalf of BAAS and passed the issue on to HM. See Chair’s Business.
(f) CM was invited to take part, on behalf of BAAS, in a Manifesto Club event on 22 November 2007. The debate topic was whether the US has lived up to its incipient democratic promise. Unfortunately, she had to decline due to prior teaching commitments.
(g) CM was invited to an address by the Reverend Jesse Jackson at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, on 14 November 2007. Unfortunately, she had to decline due to prior teaching commitments.
(h) CM reported that she had sent BAAS pamphlets to the American Politics Group and to Penny Egan at the Fulbright Commission.
(i) CM also updated the Grants Register, listing all BAAS Awards.
(j) CM has also been in contact with Dr Roderic Vassie regarding the collation of the BRRAM pamphlets for filing in the BAAS Archive.
(k) CM also noted that she had been in contact with Alison Kelly and Clare Elliott regarding the advertising of the upcoming BAAS elections. Full details of the positions up for election will be sent to Alison and Clare after this meeting. A call for candidates and the necessary forms will go out in the next ASIB and in an email shot. Colleagues are asked to remind the membership of the necessity of attending the AGM to vote. Elections cannot take place unless the AGM is quorate. CM also reminded the committee that the AGM would be held on the first full day of the conference, Friday 28 March 2008, at 4.00pm.

6. Treasurer’s Business

(a) The Treasurer circulated a report to the committee noting that the bank accounts (as at 28/12/07) were as follows: General Deposit, £24,928.22; Short Term Awards, £11,421.58; Current, £1763.60; Library and Resources, £2.76; Education and Development, £5,031.11; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £44,117.23. In addition the RBS Jersey has £14,973.10 and the US Dollar Account has $5,761.25.
(b) GT reported that fully paid up members for 2007 currently stand at 413 including 135 postgraduates. This compares favourably to the position last year on this date, which was 351 members. When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 479 (with 154 postgraduate). Again, this compares favourably with the January 2007 total of 423.
(c) GT noted that all members have membership numbers now. This was instituted after the Leicester conference, to prevent people claiming the BAAS discount when they don’t have a fully paid up membership.
(d) GT will make a Gift Aid claim again in the near future.
(e) GT also raised the issue of royalties on the BAAS pamphlet series, unsure of where the royalties should go. PD suggested that royalties should be passed on to the author as there is no contractual agreement on this. The committee agreed with this.
(f) PD noted his thanks to GT for making a real difference to the Treasury of BAAS. HM seconded this, especially regarding GT’s efforts with Gift Aid.

7. Development Subcommittee (RC reporting)

(a) RC noted that we’ve gained funds from the US Embassy: £2830 for awards; £5000 to facilitate the attendance of PGs at the annual conference; and £2050 for conference expenses. This amounts to a total of £9980. The Embassy did not fund the requested Short Term Travel Awards of £3000 on the basis that is it not Embassy policy to fund individual student travel requests.
(b) RC reported on his correspondence with Mr Low (see Minutes 251, ref 7i). He has been in contact with Mr Low but received no response. He will write to Mr Low again.
(c) RC has written a text for the website under the title ‘Why American Studies?’ This was approved at the Development Subcom subject to minor revisions. RC will revise and circulate to full committee for final approval.
(d) On the subject of the American Studies CD Rom, we have a promised launch date for the Edinburgh conference with the prospect of using it for 2009 admissions. HM circulated a message to American Studies departments asking how many would be useful.
(e) RC reported on a request for funds to Development Subcom. This application came from an individual requesting funds to attend the conference. RC will write to candidate to say that BAAS cannot fund this but that EAAS may be able to offer financial assistance. RC will also alter the rubric on the online form to prevent other misunderstandings of this nature.
(f) PB sent RC an email with a number of queries regarding his role on the Exec as Teachers’ Representative. This was discussed and has been clarified.
(g) RC noted that he will not stand for election to the committee again when his post ends at the Edinburgh 2008 conference.

8. Postgraduate Business (RC reporting on behalf of JM)
(a) All is in order for the Exeter 2008 Postgraduate conference in November.
(b) 103 delegates attended the Manchester conference with very good reports all round. BAAS would like to note thanks to Jennie Chapman and Jo Metcalf for excellent work in preparing the Manchester 2007 Postgraduate conference.

9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)

(a) BRRAM (KM sent a written report which was circulated to the committee)
The guide has been printed for “Records relating to the Liverpool Slave Trade in the Liverpool Record Office.” A copy has been deposited with the BAAS archive.
The introductory guide has been completed for “The American Correspondence of Arthur C. Murray with Franklin D. Roosevelt.” This has already been filmed on eight microfilm reels. This title is now ready for release.
The negative microfilms and the introductory guide for “The Canadian Papers of the 4th Earl of Minto” are promised by the end of January 2008.
A publishing agreement has recently been received from the British Library “The manuscripts of Samuel Martin, a sugar planter in 18th-century Antigua.” Dr Zacek has submitted a draft introduction, and is currently incorporating revisions suggested by the General Editor. Dr John Martin (De Montfort University) and Oxford University Press have agreed to a reprint of his “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography” entry on Samuel Martin. This will appear in the guide. The filming for this title has not yet begun.
Microform Academic Publishers are still awaiting the agreement of the Bodleian Library to the off-site filming of further USPG papers, principally in relation to Canada and the West Indies, now held at Rhodes House Library, Oxford.
No response has been made by the Jamaican institutions, despite a follow-up message, regarding the microfilming of materials in their care. Instead, we propose to pursue the detailed list of items relating to Jamaica (chiefly at the British Library) that have been filmed and deposited in the Special Collections at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica (see report of September 2007).
All the information from the General Editor with regard to the BRRAM series (see report of September 2007) has been passed on to MAP’s agent for North America, but the response has not been encouraging.
Material relating to slavery in the Goulburn Papers at the Surrey History Centre, Woking, has been filmed. There will be 8 reels altogether. The General Editor expects to complete the introductory guide in January 2008.
KM and RV will not be pursuing a projected title on the Lascelles’ West India properties (see September 2006 Minutes) because the material has already been earmarked for selective online publication as part of a conservation project conducted by the University of York’s Borthwick Institute for Archives.
KM reported that MAP will not be filming the additional Davenport Papers at the Merseyside Maritime Museum because they have been filmed recently by another company.
MH to recommend to KM the composition of a long overview piece listing contents of BRRAM to be published in ASIB.

(b) Edinburgh University Press (EUP)
Rebecca Tillet’s book Contemporary Native American Literature has been published in the BAAS series.
Celeste-Marie Bernier’s book on African American Visual Arts has been edited and is now in press, scheduled for September 2008 publication.

(c) Journal of American Studies
MH reported that Paul Giles (University of Oxford) has been approached formally by the JAS Editor to fill the vacant position on the Editorial Board. He has accepted and submitted his cv. This was ratified by the committee.

(d) American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
AK is in the process of compiling Issue 98, with an initial copy deadline of 11 January (extendable to 15 January if necessary). A lot of copy is already in or promised. AK extended her thanks to CM, GT and others who have been forwarding material sent to them.
Bob Pomfret at Oxford Brookes University is happy to continue formatting the newsletter and expects to supply the PDF by 25 January. AK has yet to receive confirmation that Sally Bourton in the Brookes Print Room is happy to extend her arrangement with ASIB, but CM didn’t foresee any problems with this.
Following the demise of the PostPack, the new mailing company for ASIB will be Able Types, based in Oxford. They have quoted a competitive price for stuffing and addressing envelopes as well as mailing, so AK will probably ask them to undertake these combined roles. (If necessary, should Brookes be unable to print for an external client, Able Types can also arrange printing.)
At the September meeting the Publications Subcommittee discussed the possibility of introducing a limited term for the editorship of ASIB. AK suggested that a two- or three- year term (four or six issues) is the fairest way of sharing the editorial opportunity. The Subcom thought that it was not necessary to formalize this. HM suggested that if we did have a fixed term that the minimum should be three years. The committee agreed that there should not a fixed term for the editorship of ASIB but that the incumbent would normally take on a minimum of a three-year period.

(e) US Studies Online
MH noted that Issue 11 was published in November, and included 5 papers.
Elizabeth Boyle also wrote to mention that five delegates from the Manchester 2008 BAAS Postgraduate Conference have been invited to resubmit their papers for issue 12.

(f) BAAS Website
As of yet there have been not been any serious expressions of interest in taking over the running of the website. GT has been in discussion with DE, as Chairs of BLARs, regarding what kind of a website BLARs would like to see. GT mentioned that they like the current model but would like to see some additions (for instance, wikis).
One suggestion was to send this out to an outside firm for redesigning it in the first instance and then finding someone to maintain it. GT’s feeling is that this would be prohibitively expensive.
The committee discussed the idea of a finding a university server but this was deemed difficult in terms of maintaining control over the website.
HM suggested revisiting the idea that this is an exceptional role meriting a small honorarium. TS suggested BAAS paying for the training of an Exec member to maintain the website. GT thought that the Exec members might be too busy for this kind of training and thought that someone from the outside might be better placed to take on the role. IS suggested trying to find someone at the conference at the AGM. HM thought this was a good idea. CM suggested that BLARs need to be the ones driving this initiative. CM will place the issue of the BAAS Website as an item on the agenda at the AGM. GL to find out about web design costs. TS to find out about training costs. DE to appeal to BLARs for advice and a possible volunteer to take over the running of the website.

10. Conference Subcommittee (GL reporting on behalf of SM)

Business mainly concerned the Edinburgh Conference:
(a) The Conference Subcom is very pleased with the progress RM has made with the 2008 Conference and congratulate him on his development of the conference programme.
(b) GL reported that Susan Douglas is unable to fulfil her plenary slot. A search is already underway for a suitable replacement.
(c) RM noted that approximately 80 people have registered thus far so an e-mail reminder will go out soon.
(d) RM requests offers for chairing from committee members.
(e) Dignitaries have been invited. Gary Younge (Guardian) will be tried again.
(f) The contract for the Nottingham Conference (16-19 April 2009) has been signed. GT and CMB have had a satisfactory tour of the accommodation.
(g) UEA 2010 is confirmed. RC reported that Thomas Ruys Smith is the designated organiser there. SM to liaise with Mr Ruys Smith over a site visit as soon as is practicable.
(i) UCLAN is still a possibility for the 2011 conference.
(j) Finally, GT reported that two conference accounts have closed: GL sent back £3105.90 to GT
from Leicester; GT sent £183 to Kent to cover the final shortfall.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)

(a) IS reported that HM met with Penny Egan regarding a new relationship between BAAS and Fulbright over a new award. Following on from this, IS is to meet with Ms Egan on 22 January and discuss financial implications and the nature of the BAAS-Fulbright relationship.
(b) IS reported that two excellent candidates have been offered TA-ships: Tessa Croker and Maria Thomas are the recipients.
(c) IS discussed that he was inundated with STA applications – exceeding year on year – of a high quality. The Ambassadors Awards, Eccles Awards, Schools Awards, and BAAS PG Essay prize have all yielded many applications. The Book Prize has been spectacularly successful for 2008. HM observed that this reflects the health of the state of research in American Studies, amongst senior academics as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students. HM is to look into making a press release indicating the quality, number and value of the awards BAAS will give out at the conference.
(d) IS encouraged the committee to ask candidates to apply for awards that are still open.
(e) IS to seek further information on past TA-ship candidates in terms of their current status and the impact their TA-ships have had on their lives and careers.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (RC reporting on behalf of DE)

(a) BLARs has not met since that last BAAS Exec but there will be a meeting prior to Edinburgh.

13. EAAS

(a) PD reported that the application forms for the EAAS travel grants have gone out on the website and will go to AK and CE for further dissemination.
(b) The latest edition of the EAAS journal is now online and the Editor is seeking submissions for 3 issues in 2008.
(c) EAAS have requested BAAS membership numbers. GT to supply.
(d) JV is to travel to Oslo in February to check the conference accommodation and she will report back to the committee on that trip.
(e) Registration form for the EAAS conference is online.
(f) JV also noted that Jo Metcalf was a recent recipient of EAAS Travel Grant and suggested that we encourage our postgraduate students to apply for these EAAS grants.

14. Any Other Business

(a) MH raised the issue of possibly meeting three rather than four times a year, possibly dropping the June meeting. JV and PD voiced objections to this, citing previous attempts which resulted in an overload of work for the committee in September. HM noted that the June meeting was important for welcoming new committee members and introducing them to the workings and structure of the committee. All agreed that it was best to keep the current routine of four meetings per annum.
(b) PD reported that he was interviewed with GMTV on the morning of the Iowa caucuses. He is due to give an interview to Al Jazeera television next week.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of Edinburgh on Thursday 27 March 2008. Subcommittees will not meet.

Dr. Catherine Morley
Office Phone: (01865) 484977