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

British Association for American Studies


AGM 2009


AGM 2009


Minutes of the BAAS AGM, held at University of Nottingham on Friday 17 April  at 3:15pm.


TreasurerTheresa Saxon(to 2012)
CommitteeJohn Fagg(to 2012)
Martin Halliwell(to 2012)*
Iwan Morgan(to 2012)

*Not eligible for re-election to this position.

The Treasurer circulated copies of the Trustees’ Report and the draft audited accounts, which she asked the AGM to approve. She informed the AGM that the Trustees’ Report now contains a paragraph outlining firm concepts of how BAAS activities provide public benefit. This is a new aspect of the report which has recently been introduced by the Charities Commission. TS noted that as yet there is no template for phrasing our Public Benefit but we should have clearer guidelines next year. She added that in this first year she has stressed the provision of resources on the BAAS website and conference subsidies to PGs.

In terms of the accounts, TS drew the membership’s attention to the increase in the cost of journals and publications this year. The figure is double that of last year, which is linked to the Discover American Studies Project. TS also noted that subscriptions are down on last year, which means that our income from subscriptions has dropped £3000 this year (see p. 10, point 4, of BAAS Accounts 2008). She noted that there have been a few cancelled Standing Orders. BAAS will need to monitor this issue as it may be a continuing trend; undoubtedly, the current financial crisis has had an impact. Overall she noted a healthy deficit of £14,000 in 2008. This is a positive position (as we should not make a surplus) and certainly no cause for concern.

The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 15 April 2009) were as follows: General Deposit, £17,214.69; Short Term Awards, £1701.44; Current, £21,349.73; Conference, £969.96; making a total of £41,235.82. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 and the US Dollar Account has $9,460.90.

Judie Newman (Nottingham) proposed that the accounts be approved; Carol Smith (Winchester) seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

TS reported on progress made on Gift Aid, which has been an ongoing issue over the last few years. Since 2000, membership subscriptions and donations have been eligible for Gift Aid, and BAAS can claim back 22/78th for those who have signed legitimate Gift Aid declarations. TS has recently put in a claim to the Inland Revenue for approximately £1600. However, there are currently only 120 Gift Aid mandates on file (which accounts for just quarter of the membership). TS urged the membership to collect, complete and return the circulated Gift Aid forms.

TS also reported on membership figures; there are currently 462 fully paid up members (160 of which are Postgraduates), which compares to 523 (including 190 Postgraduates) at this time last year. When those who have not updated their Standing Orders are included, this number rises to 525 in total (with 179 Postgraduates).

On behalf of the Executive Committee TS proposed an increase in the BAAS subscription, to be introduced in 2010. She noted that BAAS and JAS have been linked since 2005 (with an optional subscription to the journal tied to membership). CUP have proposed to increase the number of volumes from three to four issues per year. Inevitably, this will incur an additional cost of £5.00 per annum. As BAAS has not increased membership fees since 2002, the Executive Committee have proposed an increase of £2.00 per annum on full membership and £1.00 per annum on Postgraduate and Retired membership costs. This rise is necessary to build the community, to build on the work of the association, and to invest in the updating and maintenance of the BAAS website. Thus, with the new JAS rate and the BAAS membership increase, the overall proposed subscription increases are as follows:
•Individual membership with JAS: rise from £41 to £48
•PG membership with JAS: rise from £28 to £34
•PG membership without JAS: rise from £13 to £14
•Retired membership with JAS: rise from £28 to £34
•Retired membership without JAS: rise from £13 to £14.

Phil Davies (Eccles Centre) proposed that the increase be approved, with effect from January 2010; Carol Smith seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

The Chair offered a comprehensive verbal report in which she discussed BAAS’s commitment to supporting American Studies programmes and members who are in Departments of History, Politics, Film and Media, Humanities, Social Sciences and English as well as single subject American Studies Departments or Schools.

The Chair noted that one of her duties was to write to Vice Chancellors about American Studies programme closures and offer BAAS’s support, sometimes with success, though often decisions are made and communicated to staff before BAAS is able to offer its voice. She noted with regret that Plymouth and Lancaster have both confirmed the closing of their American Studies provision this year. However, other programmes continue to thrive and twenty-five programmes are listed in the 2009 Good University Guide League Table for American Studies, which is a higher number than in some previous years. The Chair also announced that Sussex has retained is status as an American Studies department, which is good news and welcome in the current climate. She also noted a 22% rise in American Studies applications nationally – which could in part be attributed to the Discover American Studies CD ROM. In addition, the University of Leicester has seen a marked increase in applications to its American Studies courses, as announced in the Times Higher and Manchester announced buoyant application numbers for its undergraduate programme as well.

The Chair informed the membership that BAAS arranged and sponsored a Heads of American Studies lunch at the ISA, London, in June 2008, to discuss recruitment, links with schools and colleges, and research post-RAE. A follow up meeting is scheduled for June 2009. Professor Paul Cammack (MMU), chair of the RAE subpanel and member of the REF Advisory Group, has been invited to discuss the new proposals regarding the REF.

The Chair discussed the 2008 RAE exercise, noting that eight institutions were submitted to the RAE Unit of Assessment 47, American Studies and Anglophone Area Studies. Although the number of staff submitted to the Unit fell from 114 in 2001 to 92 in 2008, there was also, according to the subject overview report, ‘significant evidence of staff renewal, with just over half of Category A staff submitted in RAE 2008 appointed to their institutions since 2001.’ There was also a significant increase in the number of postgraduate students. There was a healthy number of cross-referrals to the panel, though BAAS’s concerted effort to persuade institutions to cross-refer work that was submitted to other panels to Unit 47—a campaign led by Carol Smith as the former Vice Chair—was not as successful as had been hoped. The Chair conjectured that Heads of Research may have misunderstood the cross-referral mechanism, which allowed for expert advice to be offered as a source of information, to subpanels, which were free to use the advice as they wished. The Chair noted that the RAE2008 UOA 47 subject overview report states ‘that the quality of research activity assessed exceeds that of 2001. …In 2008, three of the eight institutions submitted had 50 per cent or more of their activity recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour…, and in all over 80 per cent of research (comprising research outputs, environment and esteem), weighted according to the number of staff in each submission, achieved international and world-leading quality levels of 2*, 3* and 4*.’ She acknowledged that while this is an achievement to be proud of, BAAS has consistently noted in media interviews, to colleagues, and to Vice Chancellors, that American Studies’ research is found in a variety of other units of assessment as well, and American Studies research has a far wider base than represented in the RAE results. She requested that the membership inform BAAS where their research was submitted.

Congratulations were extended to the following BAAS members in relation to awards, grant success, promotion and honours:

•Jacqueline Fear-Segal (UEA) won the American Studies Network book prize for her book White Man’s Club (2007); Rebecca Ferguson (University of Wales, Lampeter) gained a Recognition Award from the Toni Morrison Society in America for her book Rewriting Black Identities: Transition and Exchange in the Novels of Toni Morrison (2007); Gareth Davies (St. Anne’s, Oxford) was awarded the Richard Neustadt Prize of the American Politics Group of the Political Studies Association for his book See Government Grow (2007) on Federal education policy;
•Paul Grainge (Nottingham) made a successful bid to host and organise an AHRC research workshop on its ‘Beyond Text’ scheme; Sharon Montieth (Nottingham) was successful in her application to the AHRC Research Leave Scheme to complete her book on Civil Rights in the Melodramatic Imagination;
•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; Jude Davies has been made Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Winchester;
•Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor at De Montfort University and Director of the Eccles Centre, has been elected as a Rothermere American Institute Fellow, in recognition of his ‘exceptional contribution to the intellectual life of the RAI’ and his ‘distinction in academic, professional or public life’; Professor Davies has also become co-editor of the Academy of Social Sciences journal 21st Century Society;
•Douglas Tallack has been appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Law at the University of Leicester; and Richard Carwardine is to become the next Warden of Corpus Christi;
•An American Studies PhD Student at Sheffield, Kaleem Ashraf, has had his poetry read by Julia Wright (writer, activist and daughter of Richard Wright) at the National Unveiling of the Richard Wright Stamp at the Chicago Post Office in April, as part of the centennial celebrations of Wright’s life and work;
•Professor Matthew Jones (Nottingham) has been appointed by the Prime Minister as a Cabinet Office official historian, and commissioned to write the history of the Chevaline programme;
•And, finally, the Institute for the Study of the Americas formally launched its new United States Presidency Centre (USPC) on October 24, 2008. The centre is being set up to promote and facilitate research and scholarship on the US presidency, from both a contemporary perspective and in terms of its historical and cultural significance.

The Chair informed the membership that BAAS had lost some long standing supporters of American Studies in Britain this year, including Vivien Hart, former Professor of American Studies at Sussex, and Charlotte Erickson, a former BAAS Secretary and Chair who remained closely connected with BAAS throughout her lifetime.

In terms of BAAS awards, the Chair noted that this year BAAS will award 29 prizes worth approximately £70,000. This figure does not include the support and funding offered to conference organizers. The Chair went on to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the US Embassy and also of individual BAAS members who regularly contribute to BAAS Short Term Travel Award funds or who donate anonymously in other ways. For the first time this year, BAAS will announce a new award of BAAS Fellow in recognition of services to BAAS and the American Studies Community.

The Chair noted that the officers and members of the Executive Committee continue to work extremely hard to enhance and protect American Studies in the UK, spending an ever-increasing amount of time attending meetings, responding to consultation documents, and ensuring that the voice of American Studies is heard as funding bodies and universities make their decisions. Over the past year, BAAS Committee members have undertaken the following work on behalf of BAAS. They have:

•responded to a US patents consultation run by the British Library;
•remained engaged with the European Reference Index for the Humanities project;
•worked tirelessly to ensure that the Journal of American Studies achieved an A rating on the recently published journal rankings list;
•written several letters to the AHRC regarding not only their Block Grant Proposal Scheme, but also their creation of four new prioritization panels;
•made a commitment to being involved—as appropriate—with a new body called the Arts and Humanities Users’ Group—a pressure group set up to respond to the AHRC, HEFCE, and other bodies about research initiatives;
•engaged with the media, both in print form and through other media outlets;
•issued a press release about our awards winners;
•attended inaugural lectures and social events in order to represent the American Studies subject community;
•and initiated plans to raise the profile of the Association—and American Studies—over the next year.

The Chair concluded by acknowledging the hard work of all the members of the Executive Committee. She thanked the BAAS Officers Martin Halliwell (Vice Chair), Theresa Saxon (Treasurer), Catherine Morley (Secretary), and Ian Bell, Paul Blackburn, Susan Castillo, Dick Ellis, Michael Collins, Will Kaufman, Andrew Lawson, George Lewis, Sarah MacLachan, Robert Mason, Ian Scott, and Mark Whalan. Final thanks were extended to Celeste-Marie Bernier and her colleagues at Nottingham, for organizing such an excellent conference.


Sarah MacLachlan began her report by acknowledging what a huge success the Nottingham conference had been so far, and offered public congratulations to Celeste-Marie Bernier and her team of Postgraduates for the hard work they had put in before and during the conference. SM noted that this year she had visited the 2010 conference site at UEA with Thomas Ruys-Smith, the 2010 Conference Organizer. The conference will be based at the University of East Anglia (8-11 April 1010) and preparations are already well underway. She noted that the call for papers was available in conference packs and members were asked to consider submitting proposals early to allow for planning.

The 2011 conference will be held at the University of Central Lancashire, organised by Theresa Saxon, SM reported that the University of Manchester was confirmed for the 2012 conference, with the University of Exeter hosting the conference in 2013, and the University of Birmingham taking on the conference in 2014. Finally, SM invited suggestions for future conferences.


Martin Halliwell began his verbal report by reminding the AGM that minutes of all meetings are published on the website, so that individuals may keep updated about current activities. He then reported on some of the highlights of the year in relation to the Publications Subcommittee. In relation to BRRAM (British Records Relating To America In Microform), Ken Morgan (Brunel) continues to be active in developing the catalogue. A new BRRAM microform, ‘The American Correspondence of Arthur C. Murray with Franklin D. Roosevelt’, was released in late 2008; ‘The Manuscripts of Samuel Martin, a sugar planer in C18th Antigua’ is ready for release; and the William Davenport Papers (relating to a Liverpool slave merchant) have been added to the online resources on the slave trade. Ken Morgan is looking to expand the number of large American research libraries that have a standing order to take all the BRRAM titles, and would welcome any suggestions of new papers for the collection.

In relation to the BAAS EUP series, the Series Editors, Simon Newman (Glasgow) and Carol Smith and EUP Commissioning Editor, Nicola Ramsey, have been busy in 2008 exploring possible new subjects and authors for the BAAS series. A new addition to the series is Celeste-Marie Bernier’s African American Visual Arts, co-published with University of North Carolina Press. Books on The American Short Story since 1950 and North American Theatre are due out in 2009-10.

MH noted that the Editor of JAS, Susan Castillo, Associate Editor, Scott Lucas, and CUP representative Martine Walsh have been working very hard in 2009, streamlining and improving the JAS editorial processes. In 2008-09 Janet Beer (Oxford Brookes) and Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford) had their terms of office on the JAS Editorial Board extended for another three years. MH welcomed the following as new Board members: Richard Crockatt (UEA), Jane Dailey (Chicago) and Marjorie Spruill (South Carolina). At a meeting on 13 March in London, CUP, JAS and BAAS representatives discussed the proposal to move from three to four issues per year from 2010. The extra issue would cost an additional £5, making the rate £20 for BAAS members to receive JAS. The page length of future issues will be 240 pp. MH also noted that CUP are keen to develop First View for JAS which will mean that fully-citable articles will appear online before they appear in print form. It was also proposed to add the Associate Editor of JAS to the BAAS Executive as a co-opted member. Carol Smith proposed the motion be approved; Judie Newman seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

In relation to other publications, the latest issue of ASIB was produced earlier in the spring, with the deadline for the autumn issue being 31 July. MH noted that the typesetting for ASIB remains at Oxford Brookes University and, on behalf of BAAS, thanked Alison Kelly (RAI) for her work as Editor.

Felicity Donohoe (University of Glasgow) took over from Elizabeth Boyle (Sheffield) as Editor of US Studies Online in autumn 2008. Issue 13 was published in November 2008 and Issue 14 will include a number of papers first aired at the 2008 Exeter BAAS PG Conference. MH noted that flyers for US Studies Online were included in conference packs and the Editor is keen for the journal to be publicized to all American Studies graduate students.

MH thanked colleagues on the Publications subcommittee for the work they have did in 2008-09.


Will Kaufman began his report with by noting a series of positive developments, including the introduction of the BAAS Honorary Fellowship Award (developed in conjunction with the Ian Scott and Ian Bell on the Awards subcommittee) and the marked increase in the number of applications for conference support. He noted the Development subcommittee’s concerns about the liaison between schools and the American Studies community, and added that he hoped to meet with teachers, establish contacts, listen to grievances and receive teachers’ suggestions about BAAS-schools liaison. He stressed the value of initiatives such as the BAAS Schools Essay Prize, but added the need to do more, on both sides of the school-HE equation. The Development subcommittee has discussed, for instance, the possibility of recruiting a second Schools Liaison member from the teaching sector, either to accompany or alternate with the current Schools Liaison representative – perhaps from a southern region to complement the existing northern representation. BAAS welcomed the news that Dr Bella Adams (LJMU) has taken over the directorship of the American Studies Resource Centre, which continues to host the important 6th Form Conference. WK also offered congratulations to Dr Adams’s predecessor, Ian Ralston, who was recently offered a State Department Tribute for his services to American Studies.

WK noted that HE recruitment was a constant issue of discussion for the Development subcommittee, adding that in the coming year BAAS hopes to have some concrete statistics regarding the impact of the Discover American Studies CD-Rom project fronted by Dr Sara Wood and Professor Dick Ellis in collaboration with the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies – and generously funded by the US Embassy. One of the forthcoming tasks of the Development subcommittee will be to gather national feedback about the use of this recruitment package. The membership were asked to contact WK with details of recruitment and their use of the CD.

In terms of US Embassy grants, WK offered thanks to the US Embassy, who kindly agreed to provide the requested funds for this year’s BAAS conference, the STAs and the Ambassador’s Awards. He noted that the Embassy had kindly provided a sum of £12,880, which broke down exactly into the requested amounts for each bid. Particular thanks were extended to Sarah-Jane Mayhew and Sue Wedlake.

WK noted an increase in the number of BAAS Conference Funding requests. Since the last AGM BAAS has been able to offer funding worth approximately £4,980 for conference organisation. The recipients were as follows: Trevor Burnard (Warwick) and Tim Lockley (Warwick) were awarded £300 for a conference on Early American and Atlantic History; Philip Davies (Eccles Centre) was awarded £300 for the 2008 Congress to Campus 6th Form conference; Michael Collins (Nottingham) and Mark Storey (Nottingham) were awarded £300 for a Nineteenth Century Literature Postgraduate conference; Lewis Ward (Exeter) was awarded £300 for the 2008 BAAS Postgraduate Conference; Kathryn Gray (Plymouth) was awarded £300 for the South West American Studies Forum; Alan Rice (UCLAN) and Fionnghuala Sweeney (Liverpool) were awarded £300 for the Liberating Sojourn 2; Karen Heath (Oxford) was awarded £300 for the Nixon Era Conference; Matthew Ward (Dundee) was awarded £300 for the 10th annual SASA conference; Iwan Morgan (ISA) was awarded £300 for the Seeking a New Majority conference; Ruth Hawthorn (Glasgow) was awarded £300 for the New Clear Forms conference; Richard Martin (London) was awarded £300 for a David Lynch conference; Helen Mitchell (Northumbria) was awarded £300 for the 2009 Annual BAAS Postgraduate Conference; Dick Ellis (Birmingham) was awarded £300 for the Engaging the New American Studies conference; Phil Davies (Eccles Centre) awarded £300 for the 2009 Eccles Congress to Campus conference; Bella Adams (LJMU) was awarded £200 for ASRC Schools Conference; and applications for support funding have also been received for a Toni Morrison symposium (£280 requested) and the forthcoming HOTCUS conference (£300 requested).

WK extended thanks to Michael Collins for his ongoing work as Postgraduate Representative. He commended the organisers of the very successful BAAS Postgraduate Conference at Exeter in 2008; and noted that the forthcoming Postgraduate Conference will be held at Northumbria University on 14 November 2009.

WK concluded his report by thanking those who had replied to his email call for information regarding high-profile American Studies graduates, especially Pete Messent, Chris Gair, Phil Davies and Richard Crockatt. With their assistance BAAS has had responses from Richard Lister of the BBC, the novelist Jill Dawson, and the crime-writer John Harvey. WK reported that he had also had a response from the Personal Assistant to the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, which noted that ‘[Mr Salmond’s] dissertation on the 1860 election gave him a great admiration for Abraham Lincoln that has continued to influence him throughout his career in politics’.

All the members of the Development subcommittee were thanked for their contributions during the year.

Ian Scott began his report by thanking the anonymous judges who contributed to the successful business of the Awards subcommittee. He noted that the success of the Awards had meant that this work had grown exponentially in the past few years and the Executive Committee will continue to encourage members to volunteer their services in the adjudication of BAAS Awards. He noted that BAAS will award 29 prizes in 2009 worth a total of nearly £70,000.

IS also reported that the Teaching Assistantship at Wyoming had been very successful again and that this would continue through another cycle for a further two years at least. He also noted that the Eccles Fellowship Award was still open and he encouraged colleagues to apply for the various EU and domestic awards. IS mentioned the inauguration of the new BAAS Honorary Fellowship Award, and asked the membership to consider proposing individuals for the Fellowship. Finally, IS thanked the US Embassy for their support, as well as the individual members of BAAS who donate funds to support the Short Term Travel Awards.

Libraries and Resources:

Dick Ellis reported that the subcommittee had dealt with three main items over the past year. The first was the Discover American Studies CD, which was kindly funded by the US Embassy and purchased by BAAS. He reported that already American Studies applications have risen by 22%. DE noted that the CD was still available and interested individuals should email him for copies. The second major item of business for the subcommittee was the BLARs journal, which continues through the financial support of the US Embassy and the work of Matthew Shaw. The next issue will appear in August 2009. Those with suggestions for articles should email the Editor, Dr Matthew Shaw at the British Library. He also noted that BLARs had run a very successful session, entitled Dirty Filthy Copyright, at the conference on Thursday 16 April. Next year’s Dirty Sexy Copyright 2 is already in the planning stages. DE reported that the final item of major business was the development of an American Studies resources website (to be developed with INTUTE). This online tutorial provision will help teach students how to evaluate and criticise materials on the web. He added that he will contact the membership shortly, requesting assistance with the second phase of the programme.

Thanks were extended to all members of the subcommittee, especially Jane Kelly (Secretary), Phil Davies and colleagues at the British Library.


Phil Davies reported that his main business concerned the EAAS biannual conference in Dublin. He noted that the 24 workshops and lectures had recently been finalised, but there would be opportunities to propose papers for the workshops. This would be advertised in the newsletter on Details would also be circulated via the BAAS e-list. He reminded the AGM that the extended deadline for the EAAS Rob Kroes Book prize would close at the end of July and urged the membership to send along their manuscripts. He also reminded the membership of EJAS as a valuable publishing outlet. He concluded by noting that EAAS 2012 would be held in Turkey.


Jenel Virden (Hull) asked why all institutions with raised application figures were not reported in the Chair’s Report. The Chair replied that she had reported the figures of all those institutions which had responded to her call for information.

The AGM concluded at 4.30pm.