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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 256


Meeting 256

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: September 26, 2008

Minutes of the 256th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Leicester on September 26, 2008.

1. Present

H Macpherson (Chair), C Morley (Secretary) T Saxon (Treasurer), I Bell, M
Collins, P Davies, R Ellis, M Halliwell, W Kaufman, S MacLachlan, R Mason, I Scott and M Whalan.

Apologies: P Blackburn, S Castillo, A Lawson, and G Lewis.

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.
Duties to be discussed and commented on under the relevant sections below.

4. Chair’s Business
(a) Announcements
HM noted, with regret, the death of Charlotte Erickson, a former BAAS Secretary and Chair who remained closely connected with BAAS throughout her lifetime. HM noted that when she was Secretary, Professor Erickson often phoned her up with queries about the minutes, and always enjoyed finding out what issues were being addressed by the Executive. HM sent the family a letter of condolence and arranged for an obituary to be written for ASIB.

HM noted that Jonathan Munby has confirmed that Lancaster is closing its American Studies provision. HM will write to the VC at Lancaster to note BAAS’s disappointment with the closure.

Paul Grange at Nottingham will host an AHRC funded two-day workshop on Ephemeral Media (Beyond Text).

Sharon Monteith will complete an AHRC funded project on Civil Rights and the Liberal Imagination.

(b) Correspondence
On behalf of BAAS, HM sent a letter of welcome and congratulations to Nigel Bowles on taking over the Rothermere American Institute directorship. HM is hoping to meet with Dr Bowles in the autumn to discuss potential links between BAAS and the RAI.

HM sent a letter of congratulations to Bella Adams on taking over from Ian Ralston as Director at the ASRC.

HM wrote to the VCs of UEA and Nottingham as well as heads of department about the upcoming conferences and asking for their support. HM received a supportive letter from Richard Crockatt regarding support for Thomas Ruys-Smith.

HM received the summer issue of the Fulbright Newsletter (previously circulated electronically by the Secretary).

(c) Media
HM corresponded with BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, Radio 3 and other media outlets about the elections, John McCain, a miniseries on American History, and Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival of Ideas, passing on the names of BAAS members for panels and discussions, including, frequently, Philip Davies, who on behalf of BAAS and the Eccles Centre has given freely of his time on these matters.

HM was interviewed by William Lee Adams (Time Magazine) for an article about the health of American Studies. This is likely to come out next month and will be copied to BAAS.

(d) Invitations
On behalf of BAAS, HM attended the 4th of July Barbeque at Winfield House on 3 July.

HM was invited to meet new Embassy officials at Winfield House on 6 October but had to send apologies.

(e) Consultations and Activities
HM noted that there has been a lull in activities with A-HUG (Arts and Humanities User Group formerly the RAPID RESPONSE GROUP), but further conversations were launched last week. Jude Davies remains our contact. However, on behalf of BAAS, and in consultation with the other officers, HM declined to have BAAS’s name attached to the three letters proposed (one to AHRC, one to the THE, and one to HEFCE as it was generally agreed that the tone was somewhat intemperate). HM suggested that the letter to the AHRC could be supported if it were shorter—it focused on the ERIH, but it ran to some 4 pages single spaced. The letters to the THE and HEFCE focused on universities being run by managers and not academics, and did not, it was felt, advance BAAS’s cause.

ERIH (European Reference Index for the Humanities): HM corresponded with the Journal of American History regarding the ERIH. There are some groups who are writing to the AHRC to say that they do not want their journals to be part of the list. But as SN noted at the time, the list will go ahead and we need to be involved as experts. There are problems with the data sets (for instance, HM was contacted as the head of the Journal of American History). However, the Exec agreed that it was best to express our concern in cooperation with the ERIH rather than in opposition. MH questioned policy – noting the anomaly of modernism/modernity. HM noted that there does not seem to be a policy. PD noted that he had raised the issue of ERIH at EAAS, where it was met with bemusement. Very few EAAS members were aware of the ERIH or systems like it, adding that they did not understand its relevance. HM suggested that we need to keep a watching brief and regularly look out for updates.

HM has shared some correspondence with BUNAC (British Universities North America Club) regarding UG work opportunities. BUNAC (a not-for-profit organisation) is looking to raise awareness of flexible work and travel opportunities within the USA, as well as the BEST Travel Awards which offer financial assistance to undergraduates looking to take part in a student exchange programme in the US; this year 55% of those who received an award were enrolled on an AS course. BEST (BUNAC Educational Scholarship Trust) Scholarships are awarded annually which enable up to eight recipients to study in the US or Canada. The individual amounts vary but a typical award is in the region of approximately US$5,000-$10,000. BEST Travel Awards provide US$1,000 of travel cost support to each of 20 recipients undertaking a year of study abroad at a US College as part of an undergraduate degree. In 2007, BUNAC received 70 applications from undergraduates seeking financial assistance for their year of study exchange in America. 12 applications came from students on an American Studies course, of which 3 were granted a Travel Award. This year, over 100 applications have been received, of which 21 are from American Studies students enrolled on a course at a number of different institutions including University of Warwick, University of Sussex, University of Nottingham and University of Manchester. HM noted that we have set up a link on the BAAS website to the BUNAC programme, but asked should we do more to advertise these links? WK raised the issue of attaching our name to BUNAC and sponsoring work placements. HM felt it was problematic. PD suggested that we can really only publicise to UG teachers. TS suggested that they could subscribe to BAAS with free institutional membership and added that we should invite them to the conference in an effort to reach out to UGs. HM agreed that they should be invited to the next conference. PD suggested that we hold a panel or two on UG teaching/international American students.

HM reported on the June Heads of American Studies lunch at the previous meeting, but noted that subsequently there has been a lot of positive feedback generated from the Heads as well as a willingness to share best practice, including information on study abroad options. Paul Giles also shared his views about the future of American Studies in his position as outgoing Director of the RAI.

HM noted that the RAE results will be out by next meeting. She observed that it is already clear is that comparisons between universities will be more difficult to make than in previous years. Therefore it will be interesting to see how information is used by media. There will be a profile for institutions: esteem, research, etc., which will present a complicated results picture on 18 December.

(f) Miscellaneous
HM passed to the Secretary a query from Burnley College regarding promotional materials for BAAS. She answered various queries from people looking for funding and forwarded calls for papers to the webster and mailbase coordinator.

5. Secretary’s Business
(a) CM noted that, as usual, her main role revolved around information flow. She regularly passed information on to Alison Kelly, Clare Elliot and Graham Thompson for ASIB, the mailbase and website respectively. Notably this summer she has had much information from Haydn Parks at BUNAC asking BAAS to extend its affiliation and ties (for a full summary of BUNAC’s activities and competitions see Chair’s report). She has also disseminated much information regarding the extended Fulbright Awards and circulated the Fulbright newsletter. She helped direct people with research queries to the appropriate sources; she has dealt with many requests for information on American Studies MA programmes; and have even had requests from an American Studies graduate in search of employment and careers advice. CM has also dealt with numerous enquiries from BBC Radio and TV and Sky TV regarding programmes and news features on the Vice Presidential candidates (with PD stepping in for the BBC feature on Joe Biden); queries from BBC Radio 4 on David Reynolds’s programme on the presidency (with SC stepping into the discussion recently); and she directed William Lee Adams of Time to the appropriate sources for a piece on American Studies.

(b) CM was pleased to help a former BAAS PG David Carlaw place an essay on in the TLS in early September. The article is on the writer H.L. Humes

(c) CM wrote to CUP with an update of the new committee members for inclusion on the Editorial Board. She also attended the JAS Editorial Board meeting on 19 September (more details in Publications Business).

(d) CM noted that she had updated the BAAS leaflet with new committee details and has sent it out to various bodies and schools, including Burnley College. She is happy to forward copies to all committee members for dissemination.

(e) CM noted that she has recently updated BAAS’s contact addresses and the details of BAAS awards on ASLIB, which is an online directory of charities, and she also updated details on the Directory of Information Sources in the UK.

(f) CM has been invited to a reception on October 16 at Winfield House to mark the centenary of Alistair Cooke’s birth. She will attend on behalf of BAAS.

(g) CM noted that she has written to Farrar, Straus and Giroux about obtaining an endorsement for American Studies from Tom Wolfe. She has yet to have a reply.

6. Treasurer’s Business
(a) The Treasurer circulated a report to the committee noting that the bank accounts (as at 25/06/08) were as follows: General Deposit, £13,390.06; Short Term Awards, account closed; Current, £2,348.90 Education and Development, £5,354.92; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £22,063.83. The amount in the RBS Jersey is still to be clarified and the US Dollar Account has $8853.73.

(b) TS drew attention to the fact that the Short Term Awards account has been closed and noted that the conference account will be used again for conference expenses. In the past, the conference surplus has gone into the General Account rather than into the Conference Account. The Conference Account will be used in the future so there is a clear sense of the balance being carried over from year to year.

(c) TS reported that fully paid up members for 2008 currently stand at 545 including 195 postgraduates. This compares favourably to the position last year, which was 481 members (with 172 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 644 (245 postgraduate) compared to 550 (with 192 postgraduates) in September 2007. TS noted that there had been ten more new members since June but added that new members tended to join at the beginning of the new calendar year.

(d) TS discussed PAYPAL, which continues to be problematic. In short, PAYPAL will not work with the BAAS Deposit Account as it has previously been used under Graham Thompson’s name. TS has allocated the Current Account to PAYPAL and is awaiting a code to begin operating. TS reiterated that it has been very, very difficult to contact PAYPAL and is looking into alternatives. As soon as the code arrives she will be able to draw out funds. In the meantime, TS suggested that we highlight the benefits of using the more straightforward Standing Order membership option.

(e) TS also noted that the Overseas Accounts paperwork is almost finished. The paperwork is in hand with the officers. TS raised the resolution that we should continue to use our RBS Jersey account. This was passed unanimously in favour by the Exec.

(f) TS has thinned out the Treasurer’s paperwork and would like to send materials to the BAAS Archive. RE will confirm details of the archivist but asked that materials will be thinned down. TS will thin as much as possible but needs to keep information relating to the Charities Commission. RE suggested that much of the material in the BAAS Archive may not be of interest to future scholars.

(g) DE raised the issue of mileage allowance, which is currently set at .40p/mile. He suggested that this could be tapered for big journeys to bring the cost down. HM proposed bringing the rate down to .25p/mile after 150 miles. This was unanimously agreed by the Exec.

(h) TS noted that she has asked the accountants to re-quote for the BAAS annual accounts job which at £1800 seems a little high. She will report on this at the next meeting.

7. Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)
(a) WK noted that the Embassy has agreed to award BAAS £12,880 for conference and awards costs.

(b) WK noted that the name of Conference Support Award has been changed to Conference Organisation Support Award, specifically to ‘support the organisation and running of conferences, colloquia and/or conference-related activity’. The Development Subcom suggested that BAAS award funds to Kathryn Gray to pay for a visiting speaker’s costs at the South West American Studies Forum (£300). WK also received an award bid from Alan Rice and Fionnghuala Sweeney to fund a keynote speaker for the Liberating Sojourn 2 conference (£300 bid). Both applications were supported by the Exec. WK to inform the applicants.

(c) INTUTE (Oxford based project) has asked BAAS to develop a website and are offering £900 to be paid directly to 4-6 people who might be able to develop and run the project. WK will write to Dr Bella Adams at the ASRC and ask her to help identify suitable candidates for this project.

(d) WK also raised the issue of the BAAS Honorary Fellowship Award (retirees). IS and IB have worked out the wording for this award which indicates that BAAS Honorary Fellows are expected to have made an ‘outstanding contribution to the American Studies community and research’. Applications (CV and a two-page supporting document) are to come from colleagues (no self-nominations) with an explanation for nomination by 31 December. Winners will be awarded a lifetime membership of BAAS and the results will be announced in Nottingham in April. A debate arose regarding the number of applications, and it was decided that there would be two/three awards per year (depending on the number of nominations) with up to six awards in the launch year to increase publicity. Nominations would go through the Awards Subcom and the Exec would look at a shortlist in January with a round-robin email in advance of the January meeting. WK and IS to coordinate the nominations and email discussions. TS noted that the free membership would entail the cost of JAS. The Exec agreed that Honarary Fellows would receive the lifetime retired membership (which does not include the JAS subscription).

8. Postgraduate Business (MC reporting)
(a) MC reported that he had contacted the PG Conference organising committee at Exeter for conference reports which will be included in the next edition of ASIB and the EAAS newsletter.

(b) MC sent out a call for applicants to hold the BAAS PG conference in 2009 and has received interest from Tom Wright and Rebecca Weiss at Wolfson College, Cambridge.

(c) MC was asked to contact the EAAS Secretary General Jenel Virden regarding a list of EAAS PG representatives. As no such list exists he is putting one together.

(d) MC discussed PG communication and interaction which might possibly include Podcasts or regional meetings. The Exec agreed that a more viable way forward is for PGs to have more of a presence in ASIB. In future, a list of completed PhDs is to be published in ASIB (part of Members’ News), MC will write a PG Business report for inclusion, and other ways of increasing PG presence in ASIB are under consideration. WK raised the possibility of using Facebook but BAAS will not officially endorse this.

(e) MC noted that advertising for the Exeter BAAS PG conference had been disseminated.

9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)
(a) BRRAM (KM sent a written report).
Papers tabled by Ken Morgan in advance of the meeting.

‘The American Correspondence of Arthur C. Murray with Franklin D. Roosevelt’ has now been released on eight microfilm reels. Dr Tony McCulloch’s introduction has been completed.

‘The Manuscripts of Samuel Martin…,’ with an introduction by Dr Natalie Zacek, is ready for release. There have been complications with this title, stemming from the quality of the microfilms produced by the British Library. This release will therefore be accompanied by this statement: “while the text of a number of the images on this microfilm publication are illegible, they have been reviewed by the British Library’s Imaging Services Studio and adjudged of the best quality they were capable of producing.” This title will accordingly be published at a lower price.

KM has written a short article on the BRRAM series for inclusion in the next edition of American Studies in Britain.

The librarian at Rhodes House has now agreed to off-site filming of their USPG Canadian Papers. RV will endeavour to find an appropriate editor for this title, but, failing that, we will release the papers as they stand. The papers will appear in three parts, hopefully beginning in the spring of 2009: a) New Brunswick and Newfoundland; b) Quebec and Toronto; and c) General files. (N.B. There is an existing BRRAM title that covers the Nova Scotia material in these papers.)

RV and MAP are still preparing an online resource drawn from existing BRRAM titles on transatlantic slavery and the slave trade. Further details to follow.

KM has contacted Ms Jill Furlong at the University of London Archives, in order to arrange a visit to discuss possible BRRAM titles from their collections.

KM has written to Lord Howard to enquire whether his family will grant permission to prepare a BRRAM title on the papers of Sir Esmé Howard at the Cumbria Record Office. This Anglo-American diplomatic material includes Howard’s period as British Ambassador in Washington DC in the 1920s.

(b) Edinburgh University Press (EUP)
Celeste-Marie Bernier’s African American Visual Arts has appeared, and has been co-published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Kasia Boddy’s The American Short Story and Theresa Saxon’s North American Theatre are in preparation.

Other authors are preparing proposals in a number of areas, including a history of crime and punishment in the US, the US/Mexican border in American history and culture, and American popular music. The editors are consulting with other possible authors and published a request for proposals for new titles appeared in issue 96 of American Studies in Britain.

Nicola Ramsey from EUP supplied sales figures of published titles in this series. These are available on request.

(c) Journal of American Studies
MH noted that at the JAS Editorial Board meeting there had been discussions about raising the number of JAS issues from three to four issues per year. The BAAS Exec agreed it would be happy to move to 4 issues a year in 2010, although the Subcommittee would want to explore the costing impact of this on BAAS subscriptions. MH to discuss with Martine Walsh, SC and SL. MW to be invited to the January meeting of the Publications Subcom.

At the suggestion of the JAS Editorial Board and CUP, the terms of office of the Editor and Associate Editor were reconsidered. MW at CUP is concerned about the cost involved in a three-year editorial tenureship. The Exec ratified the 4-year term for Editor and Associate Editor, stressing that the terms of both editorships should be kept in sync.

The Exec welcomed the news of the digital back catalogue of JAS being made available at the end of 2008 and the online developments as outlined by the Associate Editor at the JAS Editorial Board Meeting.

The suggestion of a second Associate Editor was discussed at length. Again, this was a matter which had been raised at the JAS Editorial Board meeting. The Exec decided it would like to consider the idea of a second Associate Editor quite carefully and not rush into a decision on this. If a second Associate Editor was brought in it was felt this should not been until the end of 2010: i.e. at the end of the current terms of office. Questions were raised about the status of the second Associate Editors, the division of labour between Associate Editors, and the terms of office.

Editorial Board decisions:
(i) The Exec was very happy to confirm the new Editorial Board appointments of Richard Crockatt (UEA) and Jane Dailey (Chicago) from 1 January 2009, plus the second terms of Janet Beer and Shelley Fisher Fishkin.

(ii) The Publications Subcommittee drew up a shortlist of 5 names for the additional Editorial Board member in Women’s History.

MH to initiate an email vote between relevant members to be taken to the next Exec meeting in January 2009.

It was felt that JAS should be represented whenever possible at BAAS meetings, especially as the Publications Subcommittee only meets 3 times a year. To this end, it was proposed that the Associate Editor is made an ex officio member of the subcom and should deputise for the Editor when needed. CM to amend the Standing Orders accordingly and write officially to SL, welcoming him to the committee. MH to contact Martine Walsh to see if she can attend the Publications subcom meeting in January.

MH to raise the possibility of extending the JAS Editorial Board with MW.

(d) American Studies in Britain (ASIB)
Email report sent in advance by Alison Kelly.

The publication of issue 99 of ASIB had been delayed by two and a half weeks by delays in production of RAS. This matter was resolved soon after the subcom had met.

AK noted in her report that joint mailing of ASIB and RAS is desirable both financially and in terms of institutional identity, but not so vital as to warrant significant postponement of either publication. The Publications Subcom agreed that in future ASIB and RAS should only be mailed jointly when production of both is on schedule. This was ratified by the Exec.

AK suggested that the copy deadline for both publications be set at 28 August 2009 with a view to production in the first half of September and distribution on 14 or 21 September 2009. AK to discuss schedules with Matthew Shaw before publication of the spring 09 ASIB so as to be able to announce the copy deadline and anticipated publication date of the autumn issue.

AK reported that the lighter paper in ASIB 99 has had the desired effect of making the newsletter lie flatter, but noted that folding and trimming were uneven. This will be double checked in the spring 09 issue

(e) US Studies Online
There was a shortlist of three applicants for the New Editor of US Studies Online.

In a very tight competition, it was decided that Felicity Donohoe (Glasgow) would be the new Editor, for a 2-year term in the first instance.

MH will contact Felicity Donohoe to notify her of the decision and to discuss the BAAS Postgraduate Conference in Exeter. MH will also contact the other shortlisted candidates.

(f) BAAS Website
All is working smoothly – nothing new to report.

10. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
(a) SM reported on Nottingham progress. Proposals are coming in already from all over the world. Publicity has been posted out (CMB has been very accommodating with negotiations on the poster). Changes have been made to the booking form. The full conference fee has gone up to £300. Everything is in place and a programme committee is operating. It is hoped that a draft programme will be ready by mid November, following a programme meeting on 22 October. Other associations have been invited and RE reiterated that it would be worth pressing these groups to submit panel proposals. CMB is working on Abstracts Online and pursuing links with publishers.

(b) SM noted a £4000 balance from the Edinburgh conference. Edinburgh accounts are now being closed.

(c) SM wondered again about the question of an honorarium for the conference organiser. TS to look into the history of this and will report back on this in January.

(d) HM noted that she has written to HoDs at Nottingham and UEA regarding the duties of the conference organiser.

(e) All is in place for UEA conference 8-11 April but SM noted that BAAS needs to keep an eye on the accommodation, which is currently a combination of campus-based and town centre hotels (with a 24-hour bus link). TRS will endeavour to have the poster (with cfp) ready for the Nottingham conference. He may also be in a position to announce some of the plenary speakers.

(f) In terms of future venues and dates, the following are now confirmed: UCLAN 2011 (14-17 April); Manchester 2012 (12-15 April); Exeter 2013 (18-21 April); Birmingham 2014 (confirmed and conference secretary is Sara Wood).

(g) SM raised the issue of possibly placing funding limits on plenary speakers, for instance placing a cap of £750 for the JAS speaker. SM also questioned whether JAS might be asked to cover the JAS speaker’s expenses. HM to write to MW and ask JAS to review their level of support.

(h) SM also discussed the issue of PG subsidies for the conference. Currently BAAS has £5000 to subsidise BAAS PGs. However, given the 195 PGs in the Association, this amount is clearly not enough. SM wondered whether it was worth asking the Embassy for a little more money towards conference support. This is to be discussed further by the Development Subcom. WK to lead on this.

(i) SM noted raised the issue of future EAAS Conference dates (Dublin dates are confirmed for 26-29 March 2010), asking if we can be informed as soon as possible to avoid potential clashes with the BAAS Annual Conference. PD will raise this matter at the next EAAS meeting.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)
(a) IS briefly discussed the Honorary Fellows. See Development Subcom report, point (d).

(b) IS noted that poster for the various BAAS and Ambassador’s awards are ready to go out.

(c) TAship info has been passed on to the Secretary. This includes some good testimonials for website. CM to coordinate for publication on the website.

(d) IS will write to various members of the Exec to chair/convene judging panels for the awards.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (DE reporting)
(a) DE announced that the BLARs journal, Resources for American Studies, had successfully applied to the Embassy for funds for the next edition of the journal, which will be a special issue on Cinema.

(b) DE noted that BLARs will offer a panel at the Nottingham conference.

(c) DE also announced that the BLARs committee was now fuilly constituted, including Theresa Saxon as the BAAS representative. He suggested that Dr Bella Adams of the ASRC be invited to join BLARs. This was agreed by the Exec.

13. EAAS (PD reporting)
(a) PD reported that he wrote a piece for the EAAS newsletter, with assistance from various others, documenting changes to the BAAS committee, advertising the BAAS conference, PG conference, and also advertising forthcoming Eccles Centre and ISA events. He has circulated information about EAAS to via the BAAS mailbase (including information regarding ASPeers) and through the APG.

(b) PD has represented EAAS and BAAS through interviews on the elections for News 24, Sky, BBC Wales and gave a talk at Edinburgh Festival.

(c) PD noted that the membership would receive information about the EAAS conference in good time via the mailbase.

14. Any Other Business
(a) PD noted various Eccles events including a talk in memory of Alistair Cooke by Martin Kettle, and Steven Sacker; a discussion of black writers in Paris; an elections event; Congress to Campus; and the APG colloquium.

(b) DE noted that the Jack Kerouac On the Road scroll would be at Birmingham from December through to January. Admission is free and DE would be happy to lead groups around.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the 17 January at MMU.
Subcommittees will meet at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley
Office Phone: (0116) 223 1068