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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 262


Meeting 262

BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: 8 April 2010

Minutes of the 262nd Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of East Anglia on 8 April 2010 at 10.30am.

1. Present: H Macpherson (Chair), M Halliwell (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary), T Saxon (Treasurer), C Bates, I Bell, S Castillo, M Collins, P Davies, D Ellis, J Fagg, G Lewis, S MacLachlan.

Apologies: W Kaufman, R Mason, I Morgan and 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

  • Professor Peter Messent has received the American Studies Network Book Prize for his book Mark Twain and Male Friendship book (the prize is to be split between him and Professor Christopher Bigsby).
  • US Ambassador Louis B Susman visited the University of Birmingham on 25 February and during his visit gave a talk on the achievements of and challenges facing Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
  • The University of Birmingham’s library has agreed to house the Books Across the Sea collection in its Special Collections. The project commenced during the Second World War, in 1940, as a cultural and literary exchange set up to counter the loss of transatlantic published book transmission because of pressure on transatlantic cargo space for more strategic goods. Books Across the Sea was founded by Beatrice Warde to help draw the USA into the war following the fall of France by countering the effects of Nazi propaganda upon expatriate Americans, though, later it also catered for the reading appetites of US servicemen.
  • The University of Northampton has benefited from a substantial donation made by one of their former students, Mr. James Byrom. He has directed that the money be used to support students’ visits to the USA, for the purposes of study, research or internships.
  • HM announced the deaths of long time members of BAAS, Jack Pole and Allan Lloyd Smith.

(b) Correspondence

  • HM received the February and March editions of the Academy of Social Sciences e-bulletin (which previously circulated by email).
  • HM announced that King’s College London has entered into a formal consultation period regarding restructuring and redundancies. As noted in an earlier email circulated to the Exec, John Howard has explicitly connected this result with the efforts of the BAAS executive and other AS colleagues in their support of the Department.

(c) Invitations

  • HM attended an ISA conference on 25 February. Iwan Morgan’s book The Age of Deficits was launched after the event.
  • HM attended the meeting of Associate Fellows of the ISA (US Specialists) on 10 March. She undertook to ensure a free advertisement in ASIB regarding their book series (which has a heavy Latin American focus) for the benefit of members and to continue to work closely with the ISA regarding strategic links and opportunities.

(d) Consultations and Activities

  • As requested at the last Executive meeting, HM nominated John Fagg to the LLAS board and his nomination was accepted. He replaces Will Kaufman on the board.
  • The REF interim consultation results have been published and colleagues are invited to look them over. They seem to indicate that individuals will need to submit four outputs for the REF but have yet to announce the final deadline (likely 2013-2014). The Impact pilot study is ongoing at the moment (assessed in April and May) and results will be available in May.
  • As Chair, HM has been invited to nominate individuals for Queen’s honours. The Association has been notified that nominations will be accepted from BAAS twice a year. HM suggested that colleagues forward any ideas to the Secretary and the new Chair, bearing in mind that nominations must remain anonymous. HM noted that it would be good to suggest someone to raise the profile of American Studies.
  • HM noted that she had conducted a short review of the CD roms, how they were used and what feedback colleagues had. Not all of those individuals and institutions who received CD-roms responded to this request for information. However, 8 replies were received. Hull, Birmingham, Nottingham, UCLAN, Liverpool and Swansea give it out at Open Days and encourage students to pass on to careers advisers. Birmingham additionally gives it out to Schools outreach events and at meetings with careers advisers. The Eccles Centre gave the CD directly to teachers and to pupils who attended the Congress to Campus conferences and History teachers’ seminars and this seems to be an innovative way forward. The ASRC receives requests for the CD (and Get Set for American Studies) via its website. The Director of ASRC noted that she was aware of at least one student who wanted to do AS but was encouraged by her parents to read Law. However, after viewing the CD, she applied for and was accepted onto an AS programme. Colleagues from Hull noted that when they were giving them out, some candidates noted they already had one. Most respondents noted that they liked the project but were unable to assess what students thought, as they had not have any feedback. Representatives from Liverpool specifically thanked BAAS for the important role  the Association played in disseminating the CDs and in paying for colleagues to get them. Swansea indicated a desire for more; UCLAN noted that they still had over a third of their CD allocation yet to distribute. Swansea said their allocation lasted a year and a half, and they would like to receive more. DE noted that there are still about 1250 left and would arrange for more to be sent to Swansea, and he indicated that the possibility of reprinting exists. The Exec would need to make a decision about whether another expenditure round was seen as worthwhile at this point, or whether other initiatives might be given more support. Tom Smith’s schools project initiative (book included in the UEA conference pack) was deemed a possibly good way forward. MH noted that when he was recently in Hyderabad he took some CDs with him and the Indian academics were very interested in this (he suggested that we possibly send some over). TS asked about trying to garner feedback from students; she suggested putting something on the new website.

(e) MISC

  • HM noted that she had been contacted by Martine Walsh about digitising the back issues of the Bulletin, which preceded the Journal of American Studies, in order to make the Archive on Cambridge Journals Online as comprehensive as possible for researchers, This relates to the years 1960-66, issues 1-12/13. They’ve managed to source most issues in the run, though are still searching for issues 1 and 8. In consultation with the officers, HM verbally agreed to extend permission to CUP to digitise those issues. HM is awaiting a formal letter of agreement, which she will forward to her successor.
  • As usual, HM distributed various calls for papers and information to the website, and helped junior scholars find out more information on American Studies topics, including queries from the US. In particular this quarter she was also contacted by a variety of media outlets, including ‘Women’s Hour’, to nominate people to speak. This is an excellent way of ensuring that our members are able to show impact, along with the important impact database that Mark Whalan has begun to compile. The new website is also an opportunity for us to have and collect impact narratives.
  • HM closed her report by extending thanks to everyone at the meeting and to former Exec colleagues for her 10 years on the committee—in particular, she thanked fellow officers, Martin Halliwell, Theresa Saxon, and Catherine Morley for working in partnership, for sharing the burden of consultations and other activities, and for providing advice and moral support during her time year as Chair. AM also thanked SM (for all her hard work for conferences), MC (no longer a PG), outgoing members IB and GL, and finally MH (who resigned his position to stand for Chair).

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.
  • CM noted that she is waiting until after the AGM to pursue 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 most of her time this quarter had been given over to the website. She reported that Clear and Creative are still working on the website and it should be ready to go live shortly after the conference. It is almost complete and will be ready to show the AGM. CM and others will attend a training course on the maintenance of the website and report back to the next meeting.
  • 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. She had also prepared posters and flyers for the Eccles Awards which will be included in the UEA Conference packs (circulated).
  • Martine Walsh had written to inform the committee that the BAAS media contacts list has now been circulated around APG and HOTCUS’s distribution lists, and this has elicited several more responses. The list has also been picked up by the European Journal of American Studies to facilitate the allocation of articles for peer review, and also by Sue Wedlake at the American Embassy. She informed MW that it would prove helpful in directing the many media requests for American studies expertise that the Embassy receives.
  • CM noted that she had dealt with a few email enquiries regarding the BAAS Exec. As yet, however, she noted that she had not received any Nomination Forms. CM asked colleagues to strongly advertise the AGM and the elections during the conference.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

  • The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 06/04/10) were as follows: General Deposit, £26,819.70; Short Term Awards, £1,882.46; Current, £3,903.31; making a total of £32,605.47. The amount in the RBS Jersey is £15,474.61 (to be resolved and closed soon) and the US Dollar Account has $9,448.51.
  • TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 294 including 118 postgraduates. This does not compare favourably to the position last year, which was 462 members (with 160 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the numbers rise to 481 (171 postgraduate), and with those who have not yet renewed from 2010 (i.e. those who pay by cheque) are included the numbers rise to 600 (238 postgraduate). There have 84 updates to the Standing Orders since January. TS noted that prior to the rise in membership fees, in September 2009, the membership stood at 492 (177 postgraduates). PD suggested that we write to people individually to ask them to change their Standing Orders. TS worried that there were problems with confidentiality in terms of hiring someone to do this, but she will pursue it. TS will mention this at the AGM and will follow up with a letter if appropriate. Those who have not fully paid up cannot vote therefore we only need 30 people to be quorate at the BAAS AGM. However, this situation is costing BAAS money and needs to be remedied as soon as possible.
  • TS has registered complaints with RBS regarding the lack of service in terms of resolving the account, but these have had no impact. TS will close the RBS Jersey account and put it in the General Deposit Account.
  • TS noted that the major business she would raise at the AGM concerns the accounts. The main points to note are as follows: we have had deficit again this year but this is not as high as last year; currently, we are not in surplus (this is not problematic but we need to keep an eye on this); the change of our accountant has clarified some issues regarding the conference account including an increase in resources of £13,000 (due to additional money from the Embassy and money back from the Nottingham conference).

7.  Development Subcommittee (HM reporting on behalf of WK)

HM noted that the Development Chair had received an application from Matthew Hill at De Montfort University for a PG conference on US Foreign Policy. The conference would be open to all PG students, offering them opportunities to present work to peers and develop research skills. The plenary talk will be delivered by Sandra Kaiser (US Embassy). Mick Hawkes from International Politics will talk about publishing opportunities. Dr Hill submitted an application requesting £300. The Exec unanimously agreed to support this conference.

8.  Postgraduate Business (MC reporting)

MC reported that next BAAS PG conference will be at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford on 13 November 2010. The conference will be organised by Stephen Ross with Dr Reena Sastri. Donald Pease (Dartmouth) will be the plenary speaker and it will cost £20. The organiser will apply for funds to BAAS.

9.  Publications Subcommittee (MH reporting)


  • MH noted that there was a good discursive piece on BRRAM in the latest edition of ASIB.

Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

  • Kasia Boddy’s book on American Short Story is due out soon.

Journal of American Studies

  • MH noted that there is one upcoming vacancy on the Editorial Board as Dr Sabine Broeck is about to finish her term at the end of 2010. JAS would like a European Americanist to fill this position. Colleagues are asked to send names (anonymously) to the new Publications Subcom Chair.
  • MH noted that he has given a presentation on BAAS and on JAS during his recent trip to Hyderabad, India, under the auspices of the US Embassy in Dehli.
  • MH noted that he would announce the new Editorial team (who will commence their positions on 1 Jan 2011) at the AGM.

American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

  • MH noted that Kaleem Ashraf (the Editor elect) has yet to submit his PhD. He anticipates completing by May. AK is happy to continue and see the issue through to completion. HM suggested setting the handover date after the completion of next issue. This was agreed. MH to contact KA and AK for confirmation of submission and handover dates.

US Studies Online

  • The Spring issue is soon to appear. It will consist of successful papers from the Northumbria PG conference.

10.  Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

  • SM reported that plans for UCLAN seem to be all in place. Plenary speakers have been decided. Future confirmed dates and venues are as follows: UCLAN 2011; Manchester 2012 (preparations have already begun); Exeter 2013; and Birmingham 2014.
  • SM noted that it might be useful to list the names of all previous conferences online as far back as possible. She added that this might be a way of getting institutions to come on board as conference hosts. SM to send the list of previous conference hosts to CM.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

  • IB thanked CM and Louise Cunningham at Keele for their recent assistance with the administration of the Awards.
  • IB noted that he had received positive news from New Hampshire regarding the Barringer Fellowship. Things will be in place for next year. IB has already made contact with Professor Eric Sandeen at Wyoming. IB noted that despite numerous efforts Virginia have not replied at all. He will continue his efforts. SM suggested contacting the person currently on the TAship there as a way of establishing an academic contact. HM noted that she had received a message from Professor Simon Newman with a contact address. She suggested that it might be possible to place someone in the fellowship for the coming year if we were move quickly. IB noted that there were four applications in the running for the TAship and suggested convening a small interview panel. IB will phone Virginia to make arrangements; he will contact the four applicants; and contact CM and JF about convening the interview panel and to arrange a date.
  • IB noted that this year Eccles gave our £25,900, while BAAS made awards amounting to £13,250.
  • Finally, Ian noted that Louise Cunningham would continue to chase the Eccles winners for reports.

12.  Libraries and Resources Committee (DE reporting)

  • DE noted that he is continuing to work on a document regarding American Studies library support in the recession. This document will propose strategies for resource sharing and possible collaborations. He hopes to bring this to the next meeting.
  • DE was pleased to announce that the BLARs journal will go ahead this year.
  • DE noted that BLARs would like to develop links with the new BAAS website (possibly setting up a section on significant acquisitions). He therefore volunteered for training.
  • DE noted that the HEA is faced with 30% cuts. It is unclear how those cuts will be distributed but he felt that it was evident that the subject centres will suffer. He added that Area Studies generally has not made use of LLAS grants, especially teaching grants, and this was significant as it may result in such grants being cut. BLARs will make representations about this 30% reduction (although it is unlikely to achieve anything, it is worthwhile to protest it as these cuts may be the thin edge of the wedge). DE urged the Exec to write a letter about these cuts to the HEA. HM noted that this needed careful handling and it might be necessary to wait until after the election (when a new government may be in place). She suggested that we return to this matter at the next meeting.
  • DE told the Exec that BLARs will present a session on social networking next year at UCLAN. He added that the LLAS had agreed to support that session and one speaker (Anouk Lang) is already in place.
  • The UEA BLARs conference session has been cancelled; one speaker withdrew due to a lack of institutional support. DE suggested making a small contribution to the travel costs of the Libraries panellists who present at the conference. After a lengthy discussion, TS suggested that we monitor this issue for next year and revisit the matter. HM suggested that it might be worthwhile if the Chair of BAAS wrote to the institutions and the libraries of those involved, stressing the importance of these speakers.

13. EAAS (PD reporting)

  • PD reported that the recent EAAS Dublin conference was very good and well attended. The American Studies Network Prize was shared by Professor Christopher Bigsby and Professor Peter Messent. Keynotes included Professor Simon Newman and Professor Susan Castillo. The next meeting of the EAAS committee will be in Rome. The next conference will be in Izmir (Turkey) in 2012 and theme is ‘The Health of the Nation’. The 2014 conference will be held in Romania and the 2013 meeting will be in Moscow.
  • PD noted that despite the various management problems of EAAS, the saga of registering EAAS as a charity is almost complete.
  • PD reported that EAAS has a new Vice President – the Turkish representative Meldan Tanrisal; Hans Jürgen Grabbe and Stephen Matterson remain on the Board. Hans Jürgen Grabbe has redesigned the website. PD noted that the last newsletter did not get published. He added that finances look healthy for the coming year (EAAS made a slight surplus last year), noting the existence of a trust fund which, in time, can be used for subsidies. The EAAS online journal is going very well (41,000 consultations in 2009, three times as many as 2008).
  • PD observed that BAAS is the fourth largest organiser and contributor, just behind Spain. Germany and France are the top two. BAAS constitutes 11% of total membership Europe-wide.
  • HM followed up on an issue raised at a previous meeting regarding the attendance of British scholars at EAAS. She suggested that this might be linked to the rule regarding speakers not being able to present at two consecutive EAAS conferences. PD noted that he had raised the matter but made no headway.

14. Any Other Business

GL noted that he had received a reply from the provost at King’s College London regarding the misinformation which had circulated regarding King’s. He stressed that jobs will be safe and current AS staff will be housed in the AS Research Centre.
CM noted that Iwan Morgan had attended the Area Studies Advisory Group meeting on BAAS’s behalf. The main issues were as follows:

  • The Japanese Studies Association is emulating BAAS in developing a Why Study Japan CD which is close to release.
  • There are very pessimistic soundings concerning funding for the Higher Education Academy and its subject centres which are targeted for a 30 percent funding hit over three years.  No one knows quite how the effect will play out – but there are concerns that some centres will be closed or merged.
  • There is concern that UK non-Scottish students studying in Scottish universities are not getting a fair deal on study abroad programmes because they do not receive Scottish government support, and this may be the subject of an Area Studies Advisory group missive to various agencies.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of Nottingham on Friday 11 June. Subcoms will commence at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley


Office Phone: (0116) 223 1068