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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 257


Meeting 257

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: January 17, 2009

Minutes of the 257th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Manchester Metropolitan University on January 17, 2009.

1. Present

M Halliwell (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary) T Saxon (Treasurer), I Bell, M
Collins, P Davies, R Ellis, W Kaufman, A Lawson, G Lewis, S MacLachlan, R Mason, I Scott.

Apologies: H Macpherson, P Blackburn, S Castillo, and M Whalan.

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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.
TS mentioned that her dealings with RBS were ongoing. All other duties to be discussed and commented on under the relevant sections below.

4. Chair’s Business

MH reporting on behalf of HM.
(a) Announcements
Will Kaufman has been made Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Central Lancashire. Craig Phelan has been offered a Chair in History at Kingston University.

Douglas Tallack has been appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Law at the University of Leicester from 1 February 2009.

Rebecca Ferguson (University of Wales, Lampeter) gained a Recognition Award from the Toni Morrison Society in America her book Rewriting Black Identities: Transition and Exchange in the Novels of Toni Morrison (2007). The award was conferred at the Biennial Conference of the society last June.

Gareth Davies (St. Annes, Oxford) was awarded the Richard Neustadt Prize of the American Politics Group of the Political Studies Association for his book See Government Grow (2007).

Philip Davies has become co-editor of the Academy of Social Sciences journal 21st Century Society.

Martin Halliwell (University of Leicester) has been appointed to the AHRC Panel D (Languages and Literature) for 2009.

The Institute for the Study of the Americas formally launched its new United States Presidency Centre (USPC) on October 24, 2008. The Centre was set up to promote and facilitate research and scholarship on the US presidency, not only from a contemporary institutional and policy perspective but also in terms of its historical and cultural significance.

(b) Correspondence

HM wrote to the Vice-Chancellor at Lancaster expressing BAAS’s disappointment at the closure of American Studies and received a reply from the Dean of Faculty, Tony McEnery (circulated).

HM wrote to Martine Walsh (CUP) regarding their financial support package for the JAS lecturer. In Ms Walsh’s reply, she noted that it is necessary to set a budget limit for this. In 2008 it was £775 and in 2009 it will be £800. BAAS will need to discuss and agree a strategy for dealing with the potential shortfall that will leave in the conference budget and we will need to plan for this in the future. The Exec discussed this matter, noting that is was difficult to anticipate a visiting lecturer’s airfare (much depended on who would book the flights; also, flights booked from UK coming from US can be expensive). It was agreed that the shortfall would have to be covered in the conference budget. TS suggested that costs are run by Treasurer and the Conference Chair well in advance. SM noted that £300 would have to be taken into account to cover the cost of the JAS lecturer’s conference fee, as well as any incidental costs. SM asked if it might be possible to take on the booking of travel ourselves. This would have to be handled by the Conference Organiser and the Chair of the Conference Subcom. MH asked RM to look into budget to check how much over the CUP speaker cost and report back to the Conference Subcom in June. SM suggested that we return to CUP to check procedure with over-run. HM to discuss with Martine Walsh at a meeting arranged by MH for March.

HM wrote to the AHRC regarding the new panel structures and received a reply from Shearer West (previously circulated via email). It was on the basis of this correspondence that HM spoke at the UKCASA meeting about area studies in relation to the AHRC on 8 January. Other area studies associations expressed similar concerns and thanked BAAS for being proactive in writing to the AHRC. HM noted to Professor West that BAAS welcomed the commitment from the AHRC to seek American Studies experts for panels, though added that we were disappointed that in the reply to us, the overall nature of area studies was not recognized.

HM received the Autumn Fulbright Newsletter (previously circulated via email). HM also circulated the Winter Fulbright Newsletter.

HM wrote to Felicity Donohoe congratulating her on her appointment as editor of US Studies Online.

HM has had email correspondence with Dr Nigel Bowles (RAI) who noted that he would be very glad to offer the RAI as a helpful partner to colleagues in UK universities who wish to put on workshops or conferences over the next three or four years. There will be a lot of RAI events throughout 2009 and 2010 and Dr Bowles is keen for BAAS members to be involved actively. HM and Dr Bowles are hoping to meet in the spring. MH suggested that it would be worth pursuing discussions with Dr Bowles. PD noted that Dr Bowles is very open and has held the APG conference there. GL has also had discussions with him and says that he is very open to forging links with BAAS.

HM corresponded with Michael Macy regarding links between BAAS and India—Michael used to be based at the London US Embassy but is now in New Delhi. WK noted that he was very enthusiastic about pursuing links with India, which has the largest AS association in the world. In general, the committee agreed that this was worth pursuing. WK to liaise with HM on to proceed with this.

(c) Invitations

HM was invited to the RAI for a lunch on Tuesday 28 October with Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist on The Washington Post, but had to decline.

HM was invited to the Fulbright’s 60th anniversary lecture on 20 January but had to decline.

HM attended the Election Night Party at the Embassy as well as a Breakfast meeting at the US Ambassador’s house the next morning at 8am. She noted that many dignitaries were at the event, including Sir David Frost.

(d) Consultations and Activities

HM was interviewed by William Lee Adams (Time Magazine) regarding American Studies. The article appeared in October: see,9171,1850554,00.html

HM sent out a message to American Studies heads about American Studies alumni on behalf of the Development subcommittee. WK will report further in his report.

HM met briefly with Dr Maxine Molyneux, Director of the ISA, in London on 8 January at the UKCASA meeting. Dr Molyneux noted that her current priority is to respond to restructuring issues within the ISA but added that she is keen to meet up in the spring to look at how BAAS and the ISA can link further. Dr Molyneaux noted to HM that she hoped to attend the BAAS conference but may need to wait until the 2010 conference.

(e) RAE
HM noted that eight institutions were submitted to sub-panel 47: Birmingham, UEA, King’s College London, University of Liverpool, London Metropolitan University, Nottingham, Sussex and Swansea. The unit covered American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies. There were a total of 87 Category A staff submitted. The largest percentage of 4* work was 30% for Sussex, though all submissions had World Leading activity. The Staff-adjusted Mean is as follows:

4* 20
3* 24
2* 36
1* 14
U 6

This is roughly in line with other units to which American Studies colleagues might have been submitted (English, History, Politics, CCM, for example) though there are slightly more unclassified results in unit 47 than in these other sub-panel results.

HM observed that BAAS needs to be proactive in noting the excellence of American Studies research and also in ensuring that people know that much more of what could be considered American Studies research was submitted to panels other than sub-panel 47 and that our research and teaching base remains strong.

MH noted that there is no way of tracing which research outputs were cross-referred to unit 47 from other sub-panels.

(f) Miscellaneous

HM noted that she has responded to requests for information and experts, especially in relation to American politics (for example, BBC 5Live). She has replied to requests for information about the US newspapers database as well as the upcoming conference. She also responded to an undergraduate student survey regarding US elections and the “Obama effect”.

HM received a copy of the Political Studies Association Awards booklet from Philip Davies as a model for what we might do on awards. She noted that we need to have a press release ready and available to go to the THE as well as other networks for our awards to try to generate publicity. IS to handle THE BAAS Awards Press Release.

HM initiated a discussion about the subcoms, noting that a few years ago we instituted a new subcom for Awards to recognize the additional work related to it. HM suggested that we revert to 3 main subcoms in the summer (which would necessitate a change to our standing orders, which we could approve in April). These subcoms would be: Development (including awards), Publications, and Conference, with a designated lead for Awards within Development (not the chair). What this would do is ensure that the important work of awards is done, but that there are also enough people without specific roles on the subcoms in order to ensure that they run effectively and smoothly. WK noted that Awards only came out of Development recently and it seems a little early to change back. WK also noted that Awards often joined Development and added that there had been a lot of correspondence between WK and IS. IS suggested that organising the Awards would be a major task for an ordinary member of the Development subcom. He added that there is a reasonably flexible arrangement now. TS suggested having a Chair and a VC of the Development subcom, with each responsible for areas. IB noted that the Awards Chair needed his/her freedom and the Awards subcom needs to keep its autonomy at times. MH suggested that WK has a further discussion about this with HM. The Committee agreed that the division of the subcoms currently works well as it is. The situation will be monitored and revisited in the future.

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.

(b) Most notably this autumn she has had much correspondence with Haydn Parks at BUNAC asking BAAS to extend its affiliation and ties (for a full summary of BUNAC’s activities and competitions see Minutes 256). Ms Parks has asked for help in disseminating information. CM has passed materials on through the usual channels. Ms Parks has asked CM to facilitate a meeting between her and Heads of Departments. CM felt that this was unfeasible for many reasons. The Committee agreed. CM noted that Ms Parks has also asked to be put in touch with teachers of American Studies. CM suggested that we invite Ms Parks to address the Teachers’ meeting at the conference. This was agreed with the committee. CM to write to Ms Parks.

(c) CM helped direct people with research queries to the appropriate sources; she has dealt with many requests for information on American Studies MA programmes; and, again, has had a few requests from American Studies graduates in search of employment and careers advice.

(d) CM has also dealt with various requests for speakers: dealing with the THINK Festival in Kingston and the Bath Speaker’s Association, amongst others. She has assisted the National Inventory Research Project in their enquiries.

(e) CM noted that she has recently updated BAAS’s contact addresses and the details of BAAS awards on the Peterson’s Listings, which is an online directory of charities, and she also updated details with the Grants Register. She declined an invitation to join the NVCO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) on the grounds that BAAS’s annual income was too high to qualify for free membership.

(f) CM noted that she has received the Academy of Social Sciences Electronic bulletin (previously circulated electronically). She also received the latest Charities Commission newsletter (circulated).

(g) CM also advised the committee that she had received a royalties cheque for £211.03. This came from Edinburgh University Press and is revenue from the BAAS Paperbacks Series.

(h) CM has also updated the BAAS Standing Orders so that the JAS Assistant Editor can become an ex-officio member of the committee. However, this entails a change to the constitution which needs to be ratified at the AGM in April. CM to add this as an Agenda item.

(i) CM also noted that on 16 December 2008 she attended the Area Studies Advisory Group meeting on behalf of BAAS. Minutes will be circulated in due course. There are upcoming events which might be of interest to the BAAS membership, such as student study days and conferences.

(j)CM also advised the committee that she has coordinated and edited the TA testimonials, which will soon be posted on the website.

6. Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

(a) The Treasurer circulated a report to the committee noting that the bank accounts (as at 15 January 2009) were as follows: General Deposit, £41,459.56; Short Term Awards, £1371.12; Current, £1031.69; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £44,832.33. The amount in the RBS Jersey is still unclear and the US Dollar Account has $9422.43. The RBS paperwork has been sent off and we should know where we stand in a few weeks time.

(b) TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 378 including 146 postgraduates. This does not compares favourably to the position last year, which was 413 members (with 135 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 644 (238 postgraduate) compared to 479 (with 154 postgraduates) in January 2008.

(c) TS also raised the matter of the proposed raise in fees. She noted that CUP intend to raise fees for the BAAS subscription to JAS in 2010. So we have a situation where the proposed rise of £2/£3 would be eaten up by the JAS rise. She asked if we should add on more to the subscription cost at this stage. This would increase revenue as well as cover the JAS subscription rise. TS added that this seemed like a good idea as BAAS members would get something tangible for the rise. She proposed an increase of £5. PD noted that we need to ask JAS to hold the price for a number of years. HM to liaise with Ms Walsh on this matter. The proposed new subscription fees are as follows: Individual £46; Student (with JAS) £32; Student (w/out JAS) £14; retired membership with JAS would rise to £32. The Committee agreed that this seems a viable way forward. TS noted that JAS estimates will need to be fixed so that we can bring definite figures to the AGM. IS noted that it would be worth reminding members at the AGM that the cost of JAS on its own would be quite substantial.

7. Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)

(a) WK began his report by noting that HM had written HoDs regarding American Studies graduates, but BAAS had received replies only from P Messent, C Gair, R Crockatt and P Davies. These sources have yielded some high-profile names (including John Harvey, Razia Iqbal, etc.) and there are promises of more. However, WK is disappointed with the response overall and suggested that we might be simply revisiting old ground. However, he will continue to pursue it.

(b) The Development subcom received three applications for funding. The first request came from Dr Matthew Ward (Dundee) for the 10th Annual SASA Conference; an award of £300 was approved. The second request came from Karen Heath (Oxford) for a postgraduate conference entitled ‘The Nixon Era’; an award for £300 was approved with the explicit caveat that the award goes towards subsidising postgraduate attendance. The final funding request came from Professor Iwan Morgan for an ISA conference entitled ‘Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics’; this request for £300 was approved. WK asked if BAAS’s remit might be a little restrictive with the insistence on funding to be used to subsidise PGs. He asked if we might not be able to offer funding for other issues like speakers fees, etc? IS said that although £300 is not a lot of money, we do need to make it clear that we are a charitable organisation. It was agreed amongst the Committee that that the money needs to continue to go to PG funding. PD added that BAAS’s rules were wide enough to fund speakers who are talking to students. DE suggested broadened the terms of the Conference Award so that it could be used by the conference organisers to support post-doctoral/early career scholars who do not have an institutional affiliation. This was deemed a good idea and a long discussion followed regarding nomenclature. WK will redraft the Conference Award information to include the remit that awarded monies must be used by conference organisers to support PGs and unsalaried participants.

(c) DE has offered for BLARs to coordinate the INTUTE requests for American Studies experts. He will send a message out via the mailbase.

(d) WK discussed Schools Business noting that PB was worried by his inability to attend meetings regularly. WK suggested the possibility of appointing a second Schools Representative. He also suggested setting a Schools’ Representative an agenda and setting tasks. PD suggested that agenda was a good idea. WK will attend the Teachers’ meeting at the conference and discuss these issues with the teachers there. WK to liaise further with PB on this matter.

8. Postgraduate Business (MC reporting)

MC reported that the Exeter PG conference on 15 November 2008 was a tremendous success. He thanked the organisers who did a terrific job. Professor Judie Newman gave the plenary. In total there were 26 papers and about 40 attendees.

Some papers were selected for publication in US Online; Felicity Donohoe is currently coordinating the papers.

With regard to the 2010 PG conference, MC has had 4 enquiries (using the new online application system which he has developed). The successful application came from H Mitchell at Northumbria University. Ms Mitchell will apply to Embassy and to BAAS for support.

As mentioned above, MC has formalised the application procedure for hosting the BAAS PG conference. He has set an annual deadline of January 15 set for applications. This was felt to be an appropriate deadline and the Committee thanked MC for his work on the application form.

MC reported that the PG lunch is confirmed for the Nottingham conference.

MC also added that he is still collecting information for his ASIB PG bulletin (deadline 31 July).

9. Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)

(a) BRRAM (KM sent a written report).

KM has written to Lord Howard to enquire whether he will grant permission for us to prepare a BRRAM title on the papers of his diplomat ancestor Sir Esmé Howard. KM has not yet received a reply.

KM had a meeting with Ms Gill Furlong at the University College London Archives to discuss the possibility of issuing some of their manuscript material in the BRRAM series. She would like to cooperate but needs to have the approval of her manager. KM and Ms Furlong discussed the potential of UCL’s Latin American Archives, covering Anglo-American banking, shipping and industrial material for the 19th and 20th centuries. KM will report further on this at the next meeting.

The BRRAM series relies very much on institutional standing orders from the United States. One of the long-standing university subscribers there has cancelled its standing order, and KM noted that we must hope others do not follow in the present international financial climate.

The William Davenport Papers (relating to a Liverpool slave merchant) have been added to the online resource on slavery and the slave trade (including existing BRRAM titles). This digital collection will be made available as an assemblage of source material, in various permutations, and priced accordingly.

The USPG Papers from Rhodes House Library are currently being filmed, and they will be released by the end of February 2009 in two batches comprising c.30 reels.

(b) Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

Nothing to report.

(c) Journal of American Studies

MH reported that a meeting had been organised for 13 March in London. This meeting is to bring the JAS Editors and Ms Martine Walsh together with the BAAS officers to discuss pressing issues such as the rise in subscription and the time-frame for the proposed move to four issues per annum.

On the related matter of the appointment of a second Assistant Editor, it was felt by the Committee that two Assistant Editors might possibly create more problems than it would solve. Therefore, it might be better to employ a second editorial assistant to the Assistant Editor. MH will bring this matter to the meeting on 13 March.

MH circulated the CV of Professor Marjorie Spruill, who was unanimously ratified by the Committee as a member of the Editorial Board.

(d) American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

AK had attended the morning meeting, where she reported that the publication of the Spring ASIB (Issue 100) would be mid February at the latest.

New deadlines were set for the Autumn with a 31 July copy deadline and a mid September signoff. This was to ensure that smooth and timely coordination with the Editor of Resources in American Studies (which is posted in the Autumn with ASIB).

(e) US Studies Online

Felicity Donohoe, the new Editor, has requested funds to produce a flyer to go in the Nottingham conference packs. The Committee agreed to fund this.

FD is working through the BAAS Exeter PG conference papers in preparations for her first issue.

(f) BAAS Website

MH reported on a subcom discussion about the need to refresh the website. Various other committee members suggested that it might be worth spending some money on a professional overhaul of the website. However, we need to solicit some quotations on this. CM to discuss the matter with GT and report back to the Committee at the next meeting.

10. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

(a) SM reported that all was going well with the Nottingham arrangements. She circulated copies of CMB’s report.

(b) SM noted that there was a cap of £5000 on PG discounts; however, she added that this is flexible depending on the uptake of the retirement subsidy.
SM asked Committee if the fee for the reception for advertising next year’s conference could be raised to £600. This was agreed by the Committee, but GL added that we need to keep an eye on this to ensure that the full amount is spent.

(c) SM raised issue of the honorarium paid to conference organiser. The Committee agreed that this should be in line with the conference fee.
(d) On the subject of future conferences, SM noted that basic arrangements were in place at UEA, UCLAN, Manchester, Exeter and Birmingham. There was also interest expressed by the Rothermere American Institute.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)

(a) IS reported that STA deadlines had closed, as had the BAAS Book Prize and the Wyoming TA-ship. Deadlines were approaching on the Ambassadors’ Awards, the Eccles Awards and the PG Essay Prize. He noted that in certain categories, applications have been excellent. The book prize has clearly galvanised people in all sorts of ways, and had attracted a very strong cohort. The Wyoming recipient is Emma Dodds from the University of Sunderland who will start in September 2009. He added that the plans in place for Awards part of the banquet.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (DE reporting)

(a) DE noted that BLARs is putting on a panel on IP, Copyright and the Web at Nottingham. BLARs have recruited a specialist panel on this, which will take place on first day of the conference after registration has begun and before the conference begins in full.

(b) DE reported that he had not yet established contact with Dr Bella Adams regarding her possible recruitment to BLARs. However, he has arranged to meet Dr Adams in February to discuss this matter and to explore how she might feed into INTUTE.

(c) On the topic of BLARs and INTUTE, DE reported that BLARs will liaise with INTUTE which is offering to host and maintain a website that identifies good American Studies resources and websites.

(d) Finally, DE noted that there had been effective liaisons between Dr Matthew Shaw and Dr Alison Kelly regarding the Autumn postage of RAS and ASIB.

13. EAAS (PD reporting)

(a) PD noted that deadline for EAAS conference workshop proposals was 31 January. PD urged Exec to encourage proposals.

(b) PD noted that at present it was unclear where/when the 2012 conference would be. The dates of 29 March-2 April 2012 have been proposed (which is two weeks ahead of BAAS conference for that year).

14. Any Other Business

(a) IS raised the matter of the funding implications of RAE. He suggested that we have an extended discussion of this at our next meeting. With this in mind it would be very helpful to have papers tabled in advance of 16 April. Any documents from Exec and ex-officio members should be sent to the Secretary by 14 April.

(b) CM raised the issue of possibly plotting meetings well in advance to ensure good turnout. This will be discussed further at the next meeting with the plan to set dates after the AGM at Nottingham.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of Nottingham on 16 April 2009. Subcoms will not meet. The meeting will commence at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley