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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 261


Meeting 261

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: 23 April 2010

Minutes of the 261st Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Central Lancashire on 23 January 2010 at 1.30pm.

1. Present: H Macpherson, M Halliwell (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary) T Saxon (Treasurer), C Bates, I Bell, P Davies, D Ellis, J Fagg, W Kaufman, R Mason, S MacLachlan and I Morgan.

Apologies: S Castillo, M Collins, G Lewis, M Whalan.

2.  Minutes of the Previous Meeting

After some minor amendments, 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.

Action List duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.

4.  Chair’s Business (HM reporting)

HM made the following announcements:

(a) Announcements

  • Steve Burman in the American Studies department at Sussex has just been awarded a chair.
  • Simon Newman has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, which offers research and travel funds, and leave from September 2010 to September 2012.
  • Professor Sir David Watson has just been awarded the THE Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a lecturer in US politics and history at what was Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) and a founder member of the American Politics Group.
  • John Ashworth (Nottingham) has been awarded the Southern Historical Association’s James A. Rawley Book Award for the second volume of Slavery, Capitalism and Politics in the Antebellum Republic entitled The Coming of the Civil War, 1850-1861. This award was established to recognize a book on secession or the sectional crisis and it carries a $1,000 stipend.
  • Stephanie Lewthwaite (Nottingham) has been awarded a Bill and Rita Clements Research Fellowship for the Study of Southwestern America from the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Stephanie will take up the funded one-semester fellowship in Spring 2010 to complete a research project on Hispano Art in New Mexico, 1930-1960.
  • David Brauner (Reading) and George Lewis (Leicester) have been asked to serve as external evaluators for a new American Studies programme that is being developed at the University of Ulster (Magee campus).
  • Will Kaufman will play at Glastonbury.

(b) Correspondence

  • The Academy of Social Sciences bulletin (January) was previously circulated by email.
  • HM has liaised with Michael Macy, Cultural Attaché to India regarding a series of conferences which the Embassy are holding throughout India to get a sense of the current state of American studies and where to go from there. Currently, it is clear that while the area hasn’t received much support to date, there is real interest in developing American studies in India. HM was invited to a meeting to plan an all-India American Studies Conference in February in Delhi, but given that she is soon to relinquish her role in BAAS, she passed the Vice Chair’s details onto Michael Macy. MH will provide continuity on the BAAS Executive. MH added that the date may move to 29-30 March and he may be able to attend on BAAS’s behalf.
  • HM also noted that Lord Mandelson’s letter to HEFCE indicating cuts across the board to higher education had been widely distributed.

(c) Invitations

  • HM attended the Manchester meeting for Area Studies and the REF, which she co-organized with Paul Cammack. Seventeen delegates attended, representing American Studies, Canadian Studies, Development Studies, Korean Studies, European Studies, French Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Latin American Studies. American Studies was well represented with 7 delegates (almost half the turnout) and there was a good discussion about the consultation document. HM agreed to act as a reference point for further information for American Studies.
  • Iwan Morgan attended the UKCASA meeting on our behalf, which related to the REF.
  • HM was invited to Tim Woods’ inaugural lecture on 4th Nov but was unable to attend.

(d) Consultations and Activities

  • HM submitted BAAS’s response to the REF consultation documentation on the 10th of December. She thanked the following for their contributions: Pete Messent, Judie Newman, John Fagg, Martin Halliwell, George Lewis, Ian Bell, Susan Hodgett, Mark Whalan, Iwan Morgan, Philip Davies, Robert Mason, and the following bodies: CCUE, History UK, Academy of Social Sciences, UKCASA. All helped to contribute to the consultation document.
  • HM noted that significant progress had been made on the Media contacts database, with thanks going to Mark Whalan. She added that this is an excellent way for us to demonstrate impact in preparation for the REF.
  • On behalf of BAAS, HM made a submission to the Academy of Social Sciences’ project, “Making the case for the social sciences”, which will be published on 10 February. She noted the importance of ENDURING AMERICA ( “The Best Little Website on the World in the World” amongst other projects.

(e) MISC

  • HM distributed various calls for papers and miscellaneous information to the website, and helped junior scholars find out more information on American Studies topics, including queries from the US.
  • HM noted that she had been in correspondence with Clare Elliott regarding the management of the BAAS mailbase, which has been problematic due to the fact that she is no longer a student. Clare has found a new person to take over management of the mailbase. Graeme Thompson, a University of Glasgow PG will take over from Clare before the BAAS conference in April.

5.  Secretary’s Business

  • 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 the website respectively. She helped direct people with research and awards queries to the appropriate sources; she has updated various Awards databases (such as Petersons and The Grants Register) with details of all our awards. CM has also been in touch with overseas postgraduates seeking advice and guidance on PhD opportunities with UK institutions.
  • CM noted that she has been liaising with Lauren Welch at the Fulbright Commission with a view to strengthening links between BAAS and Fulbright. Fulbright will have a stand in the Publishers’ Area at the UEA conference.
  • CM noted that she is awaiting the newly designed BAAS leaflet. She will circulate it electronically before printing for committee approval. The design has been slow to allow the incorporation of the new web design and new logo.
  • CM noted that Clear and Creative are working on the website right now and the new website should be ready by the end of March. She called for volunteers for training, Exec members willing to take responsibility for maintaining the website. She also noted that C&C have offered to host the website for a fee of £100/year (excl. of VAT). The committee unanimously agreed that it was wise to have the web host with the web design company in case of any problems.
  • CM noted that she had placed a second advertisement calling for AS experts to talk to Schools in the latest ASIB (the first call got zero replies). A second call for the Expertise List has also gone in the latest issue of ASIB.
  • CM reported that she had worked closely with IB in preparing timelines for the various Awards to ensure that they would run smoothly in the future.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

  • The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 22/01/10) were as follows: General Deposit, £38,505.38; Short Term Awards, £1,882.22; Current, £1,556.54; making a total of £41,944.14. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 (to be resolved and closed shortly) and the US Dollar Account has $10,944.15.
  • TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 210 including 74 postgraduates. This does not compare favourably to the position last year, which was 378 members (with 146 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 414 (131 postgraduate), and with those who have not yet renewed from 2010 (i.e. those who pay by cheque) are included the numbers rise to 559 (214 postgraduate). In September 2009 the membership stood at 492 (177 postgraduates).
  • TS attributed this dip in the membership numbers with a problem with renewals and the new membership rates. She noted that many members seem unclear about the difference between a Direct Debit and a Standing Order. Unlike Direct Debits, Standing Orders need to be changed by the account holder. TS may write to the membership regarding the change in membership fees and the need to update their Standing Orders. She hopes this will allow us to recoup the £7 increase in fees (which many of the current Standing Orders missed this year). She noted the necessity of preventing this happening again next year.
  • TS noted that she had solicited some quotations on the BAAS accounts. Our current accountants, R. Sutton, charge us £1,800 (plus VAT). Another firm, Nairne Son & Green Chartered Accountants, quoted £1,100 (but will charge us for extra work). HM noted that over the past few years the cost of preparing the accounts has risen year on year and it might be worth changing firms to save £700. The committee agreed and Nairne Son & Green Chartered Accountants will take over management of the BAAS accounts.

7.  Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)

  • WK’s first item of business concerned contacting Schools with information about our Awards and to stimulate interest in AS. PD noted that the Eccles Centre pay for their mail-shot to Schools (£800). WK suggested that this might be a worthwhile investment for BAAS. DE suggested this might be used as a one-off in order to capture interest, but ultimately what is required is a joined-up strategy, offering a viable package to attract and induce students to consider American Studies. WK suggested that the way ahead might be to have a working party to discuss this matter. He and CB will convene a meeting of this party at UEA and begin by thinking about ways of highlighting Schools on the new BAAS website. WK thanked CB for all his work thus far on Schools.
  • WK noted that he has resigned from LLAS. John Fagg has been proposed and accepted as a replacement.
  • WK noted that he had received a list of Marshall Aid scholars from Dianne Flynn at the Marshall Commission. He will make get in touch with some of the contacts on the list to enquire as to their willingness to speak to Schools.
  • WK noted he had received funding support applications for a number of events and conferences: Eccles Congress to Campus programme; New Clear Forms: American Poetry and Cold War Culture (University of Glasgow); Before and After 9/11: American Literature and Culture (University of Leicester); William James conference (Rothermere American Institute and University of Leicester); Contemporary Literature in Context (University of Manchester); American Ideas in Context Postgraduate Conference (University of Nottingham); and the SASA annual conference. WK proposed that we support all of these events (in some cases, applicants were to be asked to supply further, detailed information before support could be confirmed). The committee agreed with these recommendations.
  • WK returned to the issue regarding the establishment of priorities or caps on the amount of money awarded in this conference support scheme. The committee agreed that the prioritisation of PG attendance should be a factor. DE suggested the development of strict criteria which might make the decision-making process easier. WK agreed to liaise with TS to conduct an audit on the amount of funds awarded at the end of the academic year. TS reminded the committee of the need to prove to the Charities Commission that we provide a public benefit. PD observed that quite often the conference support bids were aimed at general costs rather than the PG subsidies. He agreed with DE on the need to introduce tougher criteria (this will also help us turn some applications down). WK and HM both made suggestions regarding the addition of a line regarding preference toward the support of PG subsidies. WK to liaise with the Development Subcom to establish criteria.
  • WK also raised the possibility of increasing our bid to the US Embassy for BAAS Annual Conference support, so that we could offer more subsidies for PG attendance and promote Schools outreach at the conference. In the past, BAAS has covered any surplus (in terms of PG subsidies) not covered by the Embassy. HM suggested that more money from the Embassy could be matched by BAAS (each year £1000 is set aside for PG subsidies). If we request a further £1000, then we ought to offer a matching £1000. WK to write to the Embassy regarding this matter.

8.  Postgraduate Business (MC reporting)

  • MC offered congratulations to Helen Mitchell at Northumbria University on a successful BAAS PG conference last November. The event was not as well attended as in previous years (specifically Manchester 2007) but this may reflect the location of the event in the Northeast. However, the organisation, catering and conference programme were excellent, the standard of papers superb and their topics diverse. In particular, the plenary by Professor Sara M. Evans of the University of Minnesota on the history of women Presidential candidates was very well received and stimulated an excellent debate.
  • MC noted that he had put out a call for the next BAAS PG conference holder via the mailbase before Christmas MC has also placed a notice calling for a conference organiser in the February edition of ASIB. The deadline for applications is 31 March. HM and PD raised the matter of a full-time member of staff taking on the role of mentor to the PG Conference organiser. It was agreed that this would be an excellent way forward. Once a venue has been established for the coming year, the new BAAS Chair would write to the respective Head of Department encouraging the provision of a mentor figure for the PG organiser.

9.  Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)

BRRAM (Ken Morgan sent a full and detailed report)

  • Microform Academic Publishers (via RV) have advertised in ASIB a special one-year access to all their British Online Archives (BOA) collections, including existing BRRAM titles gathered under the heading British records on the Atlantic world, 1700-1900. There is a charge of between £500-£1,000 to UK universities depending on their JISC band for 12-month access via IP address range. Examples of digital images available in the BOA collections are freely available on
  • Another batch of manuscripts of USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) material from Rhodes House Library, Oxford has been delivered to MAP in Wakefield. These are mainly letters received from the USA, Canada and the Caribbean for the period 1851-1928. They will form the basis of a new BRRAM title, and will complement existing microfilmed selections of USPG material in the series. It will prove difficult to find a special editor with sufficient expertise to write an introduction for the new USPG, so it will probably be released without an introduction but with the usual detailed list of contents.
  • Further to interventions by RV and KM, the Digital Licensing manager at the British Library has now proposed a satisfactory resolution to the poor quality of the microfilming undertaken for ‘The Manuscripts of Samuel Martin’ (see KM’s reports for May and September 2009). The BL will now provide digital versions of the illegible images, and will then copy the images to microfilm. RV will inform Dr Natalie Zacek  – the author of the introduction – about this arrangement.
  • Ms Gill Furlong (University of London Archives) has now confirmed that material in their collection (which is very strong on Latin American material) can be used for the BRRAM series. KM and RV will follow this up.

Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

Nothing to report since the last meeting

Journal of American Studies

  • Following the autumn call for nominations for four new members of Editorial Board to start in 2010, the following members have been elected to the board: Brian Ward (Manchester), Wai Chee Dimock (Yale), Giles Scott Smith (Middelburg, Holland) and Susan Currell (Sussex). MH will check with Martine Walsh and let us know when the next vacancies are.
  • MH noted that the Publications Subcom had discussed the applications for the new JAS editorial team. MH noted that he had also spoken to Martine Walsh for her view. The Publications Subcom recommended Scott Lucas (Editor), Celeste-Marie Bernier (Associate Editor – Reviews) and Bevan Sewell (Associate Editor – Media). The committee were happy to support these recommendations. MH will write to all the candidates. The new editors will be announced at the UEA conference. SC will come to end of her term as Editor at the end of 2010.

American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

MH noted that there were two very good applications for new editor of ASIB. Both applications were discussed by the Publications Subcom with the recommendation that we offer the post to Kaleem Ashraf at Sheffield (subject to finishing his PhD). The Committee endorsed this recommendation. The new editor will be announced at the conference. AK will work into the autumn edition cycle if necessary. The committee offered thanks to AK for her judicious and professional editorship of ASIB.

US Studies Online

Nothing to report since the last meeting.

10.  Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

  • SM noted that all is in place and looking good for UEA. A reminder regarding registration will be sent out via the mailbase. She noted that TRS requires people to chair panels and asked the committee to email him as soon as possible. The conference will host three receptions: a UEA reception on Friday; a UCLAN reception on the Thursday; and a reception sponsored by the 2nd Airborne Division Memorial Trust (consisting of canapés and a discussion of their work). SM noted the issue of setting aside places at the banquet for Awards winners. The committee settled on a figure of 15 for award winners and dignitaries.
  • CM will contact the committee and liaise with TRS regarding accommodation on the evening prior to the conference.
  • SM noted that progress is looking good for UCLAN 2011. Hotel accommodation will be situated at the Legacy Hotel and at the Holiday Inn. All the buildings are booked and the meals will be in Harrington. At the moment the costings are being finalised. A poster has been produced and will be included in the UEA conference packs. Discussions regarding plenary speakers are about to commence.
  • SM noted that she had recently meet with IS at Manchester and confirmed that preliminary bookings were in place for 2012.

11.  Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

  • IB reported that he had received one nomination for the BAAS Honorary Fellowship. Professor Michael Heale was unanimously endorsed by the committee for this year’s Award.
  • IB reported that he had received 9 applications for BAAS Book Prize (down due to the RAE timetable); 22 applications for the BAAS STAs; and 7 applications for the BAAS Founders’ Award.
  • IB noted that he and the Secretary had set up timeline schedules for the various awards. He thanked the Secretary for her support.
  • IB reported that the Graduate Teaching Assistantships in New Hampshire and Virginia are proving to be problematic. IB wrote to both institutions on 22 November 2009 regarding the TAships for the coming year but as of yet has had no reply from Virginia. The response he has had from New Hampshire indicated that these were no longer ‘automatic’. A long email correspondence seemed to indicate that the scheme is no longer affordable for New Hampshire. Without a guarantee of the place, IB noted that it was impossible to go ahead with the Award. The Awards subcom suggested that it might be possible to go forward if BAAS were able fund the Teaching Assistantship or meet halfway with the partners. Neither of these options seemed viable. HM noted that these Teaching Assistantships were guaranteed in the past and, this may constitute a renege of the original agreement. DE will look in the BAAS Archives for the original agreement. TS will also make some enquiries as she needs to pay stipends to current students. HM and IB to liaise with Simon Newman regarding the Teaching Assistantships. IB will continue to try to establish contact with Virginia and liaise with New Hampshire.
  • IB mentioned the possibility of cutting out our use of posters in advertising the Awards. At approximately £500 it seems expensive. The committee agreed that IB should look into reducing the cost of producing the posters but disagreed that they should be abandoned as part of our advertising strategy as they reach Schools and UGs who may not be on the BAAS mailbase.

12.  Libraries and Resources Committee (DE reporting)

  • DE noted that BLARs is putting on a panel on intellectual property at UEA. This will be followed next year by a panel on social networking at UCLAN.
  • DE informed that committee that INTUTE has effectively come to an end but will go on in skeletal form.
  • Resources in American Studies has moved back to a November printing for inclusion with the spring ASIB.
  • DE noted that Anna Girvan has joined from Embassy Resource Office and Theresa Saxon will remain on the BLARs team as the BAAS representative.
  • The next meeting of BLARs is on 12 February 2010.

13. EAAS (PD)

  • PD noted that the programme for the Dublin EAAS 2010 conference is still not on website but the conference is going ahead as planned. He noted the small numbers of Britons presenting at the conference.
  • TS suggested that more Britons might be encouraged to attend EAAS if there was some revision of the rules regarding participation every other year. DE suggested reminding the membership about EAAS and the stipend available.

14. Any Other Business

John Fagg attended the ACSS conference on Impact on 14 January 2010. He noted the following points (detailed report circulated).
JF noted that it might be worth drafting a ‘Making the Case for American Studies’ document in the way that the ESRC is doing for the Social Sciences.

  • Influence on public policy was a major issue for the Social Sciences;
  • Many academics had raised the same concerns as BAAS regarding the difficulty of clarity, etc;
  • There was some discussion regarding the users of research, i.e. how people will build on research in the future;
  • There was also an emphasis on short term usage, i.e. how journalists might use academic research (many colleagues discussed this as potentially problematic);
  • There was also discussion of ‘rapid response’, how to respond when something one works on becomes a news issue and how to build on this;

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of East Anglia on 8 April 2010 at 10.30am.

Subcommittee meetings will not meet.

Dr. Catherine Morley


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