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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 254


Meeting 254

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: March 27, 2008

Minutes of the 254th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Edinburgh on March 27, 2008.

1. Present

H Macpherson (Chair), C Morley (Secretary) G Thompson (Treasurer), I Bell, P Blackburn, S Castillo, R Crockatt, J Davies, P Davies, R Ellis, M Halliwell, W Kaufman, G Lewis, S MacLachlan, J Metcalf, T Saxon, I Scott, and J Virden.

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
The Secretary asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties.

HM asked the committee to consider when would be a good time for an American Studies Heads meeting (and issue which had been raised by Professor James Dunkerley). HM added that she thought the end of May might be too soon for many people. RC suggested the second week in September. HM to circulate a potential date via the AS Heads e-list and see who may be able to come. HM added that James Dunkerley has made it clear that he sees ISA’s role as simply to provide a venue for the meeting, with BAAS taking the lead on providing the substance of the meeting and topics for discussion.

RC said that his article for the website, ‘Why American Studies?’, is now online. RC added that despite numerous attempts to make contact with Mr Low, he has not had a reply.

4. Chair’s Business

(a) Announcements

George Lewis has been named the new Director of the Centre for American Studies (Leicester) starting in January 2009.

Will Kaufman was awarded a prestigious Woody Guthrie Research Fellowship, which will allow him to spend time in the Guthrie Archives in New York this summer.

Jay Prosser has been promoted to Reader in Humanities at Leeds.

Birmingham University has been successful in its bid to exhibit the 1951 scroll version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, a 127 foot long continuous roll of teletype paper on which Kerouac typed out On the Road in three weeks in 1951. There will be a launch event in December.

(b) Invitations

HM will, on behalf of BAAS, be attending the Douglas W. Bryant Lecture at the Eccles Centre in on 7 April. The lecture, by Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, is entitled, ‘Constitutions: Does America’s work? Does Europe need one? And what about us?’

HM noted that she has had to decline invitations to various exhibitions and events.

(c) Consultations

HM noted that on behalf of BAAS, she and the officers replied to a variety of consultation exercises.

As announced in the January meeting, 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 AS as a subject, despite recognizing other Area Studies. This was circulated to the full exec on 14/1/08. A reply was received from Dr. Sue Carver (Associate Director, Postgraduate, AHRC) on 29 January (circulated). This letter indicates that the purpose of the subject categorisations was to make it more manageable, and that the only exceptions were those areas that the AHRC felt were endangered or emerging, which focused on languages: ‘Hence, within the AHRC’s definition, American Studies does not fall under this remit, since it is not a language per se.’ It ended with a general, rather bland statement, that American Studies could be supported under a ‘range of subjects appropriate to the area of expertise’—in other words, History or English. This is a disappointing but not unexpected response. GT noted that Nottingham received a similar response. MH noted that European Studies is a separate category and failed to see why AS was not treated comparably.

HM received a summary document, “AHRC’s Decision Making Structures—Peer Review” as a consequence of attending an open meeting in Edinburgh in October (circulated). The paper summarises the discussions that have been had about the current panel structures, and whether all applications need the same number of peer reviewers.

ERIH (European Reference Index for the Humanities): As noted in the January meeting, the Literature list was supposed to be in place by the end of October, but has still not been published (as of 28/03/07) and there is still no indication on the website as to when this might be happening. HM will keep this under review. Publishers were specifically invited to comment in February 2008 on these lists. Further discussion on the ERIH and the AHRC in Chair’s Business, point (c) 7.

In January, HM completed the online survey on BAAS’s behalf regarding the economic impact of our research for a British Academy/LSE project.

As noted in January, Dick Ellis was the BAAS representative on a UKCASA committee which officially responded to the REF (Research Excellence Framework). Individuals also replied through their universities. HM and the committee offered thanks to DE for his hard work on this.

US patents consultation: HM has been asked to consider BAAS’s response to the British Library’s plans to dispose of the paper copies only of US utility patents 1859-1999. HM did not see any problems with this but wished to draw it to the attention of the Exec (letter circulated). DE felt that this should be brought to the BLARs committee to consider. They will discuss via email and report back to HM.

(d) Miscellaneous

HM responded positively to a request for permission to quote from a BAAS publication, a book review on Flannery O’Connor.

HM circulated a call for participation in the US Congress in the Classroom 2008 programme to Paul Blackburn for further dissemination.

HM thanked outgoing members of the Executive: Jo Metcalf, Graham Thompson, Richard Crockatt, and Jude Davies. She also thanked Catherine Morley who is up for re-election and Will Kaufman who has noted his desire to stand again. HM thanked the entire committee for helping to make her first year as Chair run smoothly.

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; fielded enquires for bibliographic assistance from many overseas academics; directed very many queries regarding the conference to Robert Mason; advertised the conference and the elections in particular via the usual avenues and after the Elections at the AGM will update the Charities Commission information with details of the committee members. CM wrote to the CUP syndics regarding the recommendation to nominate Professor Paul Giles to the JAS Editorial Board.

(b) CM liaised with TIME magazine regarding an article on American Studies in Britain and referred the journalist to various BAAS members for his research.

(c) CM also liaised with the Silver River TV production regarding the nomination of History experts for an upcoming documentary on the year 1968.

(d) CM updated BAAS’s details with the Peterson’s Survey, listing all BAAS Awards.

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, £36,280.00; Short Term Awards, £11,934.91; Current, £2,445.27; Education and Development, £5,070.98; 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 $7,244.39

(b) GT reported that fully paid up members for 2008 currently stand at 523 including 190 postgraduates. This compares favourably to the position last year on 19/04/07, which was 435 members (with 107 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 586 (209 postgraduate) compared to 505 (with 163 postgraduate) in April 2007.

(c) GT noted that from next year we will need to include a statement with the accounts noting what exactly is the public benefit of BAAS. There cannot have any restrictions on public benefit in terms of ‘geography’ (this needs to be clarified in terms of national/international perimeters).

(d) GT noted GT noted an Accounting Deficit of £21503 in the accounts this year compared to a
surplus of £4515 in 2006. This is largely due to the fact that we paid out £17,000 in Eccles Centre Awards during 2007, although the money for these awards was received in 2006 and therefore inflated the 2006 accounts. This situation will not occur in 2008, since the Eccles Centre funding will both be received and awarded during the current accounting period. The deficit is also partly due to the fact that all travel awards were increased to £750 from £500 in 2007.

(e) GT also noted that expenses for the committee was down this year (See p. 11 of circulated Treasurer’s Accounts report for full details).

(f) Gift Aid recouped £3225.54. This is down on last year – but this is due to the fact that the back-dating of the previous claim included substantial donations from one individual. This brings us up to date now and we’ve recouped all we can at this stage. In future the claim can be submitted at the end of the tax year. HM noted thanks to GT for his work on progressing the Gift Aim claim, particularly as he is the first BAAS Treasurer to have been able to do so.

7. Development Subcommittee (RC reporting)

(a) RC reported that he had completed the text of ‘Why American Studies?’, which is now online.

(b) RC has also revised the rubric on application for conference funding. This revised form is now online.

(c) RC also liaised with Professor Alan Dobson, Chair of the Transatlantic Studies Association (TSA), regarding his desire to establish closer links with BAAS.

(d) RC noted that in future the Chair of the Development Subcom will have to submit full reports for US Embassy grant applications. These reports will need to be supplemented with details of how Embassy money has been spent on awards and conferences (IS to provide such information).

(e) RC noted that he following requests were received and provisionally approved for funding for conferences:

Simon Newman for the annual Scottish American Studies Association Conference in February 2008 to facilitate the attendance of postgraduates: £300.

Michael Kindellan for a conference at Sussex University on ‘Problems of Major Form: 19th and 20th Century Long Poems’ to facilitate attendance of postgraduates: £300.

The committee formally approved these bids.

(f) RC reported that conference preparations for the Exeter BAAS Postgraduate conference were ongoing.

(g) RC also noted that BAAS, with the assistance of Paul Blackburn, is continually building its work in school liaison activities.

(h) RC also suggested that BAAS needs to highlight a list of prominent American Studies graduates and feature them on the website as a way of showing where American Studies degrees lead. JV noted that most of the groundwork on this has been done this before. WK added that he has done some work on this. GT reiterated that this should be pursued and added to the website. DE noted that while such a list is not on the American Studies CD, there is extensive reference to careers on the CD. WK to send information on this to GT for the website.

(i) RC offered thanks to all who have helped during his tenure on the committee and especially during his time as Development Subcom Chair.

(j) WK raised the issue of work-placement in the US and wondered if there was some way of funding someone (BAAS presence involved with someone working in the US – BAAS as involved in a practical/vocational way). RC noted that this happens in year abroad programmes anyway and such an idea would be problematic outside the confines of an established programme/link with an institution. HM and CM remarked that this might be difficult to manage.

(k) PB raised the issue of a Schools section on the website. This was agreed to be a good idea and will be taken further.

8. Postgraduate Business (JM reporting)

(a) JM reported that all is in order for the Exeter 2008 Postgraduate conference in November.

(b) JM suggested that the Postgraduate representative’s name should be highlighted on the Postgraduate Section of the website, so that postgraduate members would know whom to contact.

(c) JM noted that the 2007 Postgraduate conference had been very successful. Part of this success of was due to the fact that she (as one of the conference organisers) had received funding from the Embassy to bring four high-school students to the conference. She suggested that this might be continued, with the Embassy bid taken on by the organiser of the Postgrad conference (and overseen by the Development Subcom).

9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)


MH has written to KM with a request to write a piece on the BRRAM holdings for 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 reminded that committee that four Editorial Board members are due to finish their terms in 2008: Professor J Beer, Professor J Dumbrell, Professor A Fairclough and Professor S Fisher-Fishkin. These positions will need to be renewed or replaced in comparable subject areas.

SC noted that JAS regularly receives submissions in Women’s History, and this might be worth bearing in mind in terms of potential candidates.

SC noted that Sharon Monteith will guest edit the Aug 2009 special edition on Hurricane Katrina.

SC also noted that submissions are now all done electronically, which means that people get replies within approximately 2 months. SC thanked all committee members who read for the journal throughout the year.

Finally, SC added that Scott Lucas has begun the process of publishing additional book reviews online, in order to ensure that the widest number of reviews get placed. She raised issue of possibly doing this with articles in the future.

(d) American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

AK worried that there may have been a delay in members’ receipt of ASIB. There were no complaints noted.

AK asked the Exec to consider moving to a lighter weight of paper. There were no objections.

(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 therefore GT will continue in the role as Webster. GT has been in discussion with DE, as Chair of BLARs, regarding the kind of a website BLARs would like to see. DE mentioned that they like the current model but would like to see some additions (for instance, wikis). Talks will continue between GT and BLARs.

GL asked Leicester experts about the cost of updating – and they felt that the idea of a glossy new skin was complicated.

On the issue of training, TS spoke to a few firms who suggested we contact Learn Direct to train someone to work website (the basic one-day course, Introduction to DreamWeaver, costs £195). Training for other courses is also available from Learn Direct. TS questioned whether this was worth the investment and whether BAAS would be able to find someone willing to do it.

HM and the entire committee thanked GT for his work on the website and all are delighted with his decision to continue with it.

Thanks were also extended to Clare Elliott for her management of the BAAS mailbase.

10. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

(a) The Conference Subcom was very pleased with the progress RM has made with the 2008 Conference and congratulated him on his development of the conference programme.

(b) SM noted that there was nothing new to report on Nottingham; however all preliminary arrangements are in place.

(c) For UEA 2010 Tom Ruys Smith is in place as conference organiser. Venues have been booked and good conference support is in place. There are 60 quality rooms on campus. Other accommodation will be in hotels. Hotel price can be kept within a reasonable budget. TRS will be invited to the next meeting.

(d) SM added that the conference subcom will recommend to Nottingham and UEA the continuation of the online booking system which worked so well for Edinburgh.

(e) SM raised a concern with the issue of conference numbers: once the conference hits 200 it can be difficult to accommodate. This is an ongoing issue and one which the Conference Subcom will need to bear in mind.

(f) 2011 has now been confirmed for UCLAN. We need to start thinking about venues for the 2012 conference.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)

(a) IS reported that he had followed up on HM’s meeting with Penny Egan on 22 January to discuss the financial implications and the nature of a possible BAAS-Fulbright relationship. Fulbright wishes to work with BAAS in promoting their awards. IS noted that Ms Egan did mention the idea of a Fulbright Fellow who would be involved with BAAS, the Eccles Centre, and the American Politics Group. This fellow would act as a kind of roving ambassador. Ms Egan also felt that Fulbright might have a presence on the BAAS website. Discussions on all of these matters continue.

(b) IS apologised that he had no info on past TA recipients just yet but would try to get some by the June meeting.

(c) IS noted that the awards have been very successful in certain areas but there are issues associated with the expanse of the awards, especially in terms of workload for the Exec. IS said there had been many quality submissions this year and thanked all the panellists. The issue remains about how the awards publicity is distributed to the secondary education sector. In the last year, IS has set up database with schools information. This has been reasonably successful in terms of outreach; for instance the Barringer Fellowship and Monticello Fellowship both go to institutions without previous association with BAAS. However, IS noted that there are many, many schools that do not reply to the information at all. He observed a disproportionate amount of work on this in comparison to other awards which get a much bigger response. JV noted that the STAs have been around for longer and have a more established profile. IS felt that this is certainly the case but we need to make sure that the schools’ prizes are as established as the STAs. PB felt that students and schools may be unsure of what is involved with the essay prize and what is required. IS to work with PB on this in the future.

(d) IS offered thanks to his assistant at Manchester, Michelle, for her immense work on the awards.

(e) IS noted that this year BAAS would give out 32 awards worth approximately £41,000.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (DE reporting)

(a) BLARs subcom welcomed the institutional membership, which has recently been established.

(b) BLARs journal will carry on and the subcom will approach the US Embassy for funding (DE noted that the Eccles Centre may help if necessary).

(c) BLARs are currently involved in a debate regarding directions for resources, with an emphasis on electronic resources.

(d) DE also noted that BLARs need a BAAS representative from the Exec committee (someone other than the Chair). Secretary to solicit/approach members.

(e) BLARs will do a session at the Nottingham 2009 conference on E-editions.

(f) DE distributed the American Studies CDs and asked the Exec to distribute these to their students, careers advisers, etc.

(g) DE noted that the CDs are stored at Birmingham and will be posted from there. There will be a small charge for this and transport costs will be passed on to BAAS.

13. EAAS

(a) PD reported that since he has been a Rep there has not been a meeting so first contact will be in Oslo.

(b)The EAAS conference is upcoming and all notices and information have been passed on to Clare Elliott for distribution.

(c) PD recommends registration for the EAAS e-list which is an excellent source of information from the European scene.

(d) JV reported that she has also sent out conference information. She added that this year there would be three receptions and a dinner cruise at the conference and she encouraged all attendees to go along.

(e) JV also announced that TS has been elected to the EJAS Editorial Board.

(f) JD asked PD to bring ERIH to EAAS’s attention.

14. Any Other Business

HM mentioned that there would be a national conference of University Professors on 16 July which would discuss metrics.

GT proposed that as part of serving on the BAAS Exec that BAAS members would not apply for BAAS prizes. A short discussion ensued, after which it was agreed that the proposal would need to be a substantive agenda item at the next Awards subcom, to ensure that it received adequate attention. For example, PD felt that this would be detrimental to the Eccles awards, and issues to do with co-optees would need to be addressed. IS to head this discussion up with the Awards subcom.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at Manchester University on 27 June 2008.
Subcommittees will meet at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley
Office Phone: (01865) 484977