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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 264


Meeting 264

British Association for American Studies

 Minutes 264th

Minutes of the 264th Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Leicester on 17 September 2010 at 1.00pm.

1. Present: M Halliwell (Chair), C Morley (Secretary), T Saxon (Treasurer), I Bell, M Collins, P Davies, D Ellis, J Fagg, Z Feghali, S Lucas, T Ruys Smith and M Whalan.

Apologies:  C Bates, S Castillo, R Mason, G Lewis, I Morgan, W Kaufman.

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

4.  Chair’s Business (MH reporting)

(a)   Announcements

  • Professor Geoff Plank has joined the School of American Studies at UEA as Professor of American History.
  • Dr John Fagg will join the University of Birmingham in January 2011.
  • Professor Tim Lynch will move to the University of Melbourne in 2011.
  • Dr Maria Ryan at the University of Nottingham has been awarded an AHRC Early Career Research Grant worth £47,000.
  • Professor Iwan Morgan’s book The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush (Kansas, 2009) was awarded the American Politics Group’s Richard E. Neustadt Book Prize for 2010. This follows Tim Lynch’s award in 2010.

(b)   Invitations

  • MH attended the LLAS Advisory Board meeting on 15 June, and a celebration of 10 years of the subject centre. Following the recent consultation on the future structure of subject centres, MH has written to Craig Mahoney, the new CEO of the HEA (as well as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester) promoting the third of three proposed options: ‘A geographically dispersed structure with 13-15 sites located within (or associated with) HEIs or other HEI related bodies, retaining a central office in York and smaller offices in Scotland and Wales.’ This came out of discussions earlier in the year as something BAAS wanted to promote. Various colleagues noted that their VCs had written to Mr Mahoney regarding the matter.
  • MH had a lunch meeting with a former chair of BAAS in July (PD), and has been in correspondence with another former chair (Professor Judie Newman) about the REF strategy.
  • MH also has a meeting scheduled for 29 September to meet Penny Egan from the Fulbright Commission.
  • MH met with Graham Thompson (the new Head of American Studies at Nottingham, for one year in the first instance) to discuss the implications of the restructuring at Nottingham. Film Studies (c. 8 members of staff) have now formed a separate unit with Cultural and Critical Theory, to leave American Studies (22 staff) as an independent unit. American Studies remains a School for 2010-11, but it will then be absorbed into a broader School of Cultures and Languages where it is likely to be renamed as a Department.

(c)   Correspondence

  • MH has written to the US Embassy in India to apply for funding to sponsor 4 or 5 Indian scholars to contribute a roundtable on international relations (from a broad political, social, cultural and linguistic perspective) at next year’s BAAS conference. The funding would be for air fare, the conference fee and accommodation and would be in the region of $7500.
  • MH has written to the Vice-Chancellor at Sussex University to promote the application of an American Studies Research Centre as a key component of their recent reorganization. MH wrote in July but has had no reply.
  • IM noted that Tim Lynch is to leave the ISA in 2011 but will not be replaced straight away by a US specialist. This leaves IM as the only US Politics specialist at the ISA, reduced from three. This might jeopardise North American Studies at the ISA. IM will write to the Dean and to Maxine Molyneaux to remind them of the importance of a North American focus and the hemispheric model in which it was set up originally. MH noted that ISA is complex as they do not submit to the REF but are subject to 5-year reviews. The ISA’s teaching programme has not attracted vast numbers of PG students, though IM has attracted quite a few PhD students. PD thought it would be difficult for the institute to continue with the ISA title without the US component. He noted that there had been hopes for endowments and donations but this has not really happened. MM would welcome support.
  • MH corresponded with Martine Walsh at CUP about potentially recycling savings from next year’s UK-based JAS lecturer for postgraduate bursaries. In consultation with the other officers, he agreed with MW to take a lower level of support this year and go back to normal next year.
  • MH has written to the organisers of this year’s BAAS Postgraduate Conference, Stephen Ross and Aaron Hanlon, as well as their mentor Reena Sastri at Oxford.
  • All other correspondence over the last 3 months relates to the REF, as outlined below.

(d)   Consultations


  • MH wrote to Heads of American Studies in June to ascertain the likely submission patterns for the REF. It seems highly likely that (unless plans develop over the next two years) that Nottingham could be the only American Studies unit submitting directly to the Area Studies subpanel. All other departments/units are likely to divide submissions between the four ‘parent’ panels: History, English, Politics & International Relations, and Communication, Cultural & Media Studies.
  • In early August MH wrote to Professor Bruce Brown, the Chair of Panel D, copied to Dame Finch the Chair of Panel C (where the Politics subpanel is located) and to the REF Manager Graeme Rosenberg. In the letter MH outlined the community’s likely submission patterns and lobbied for the same number of Americanists as served in RAE 2008, but redistributed across the five subpanels to correspond to submissions. The proposal is for 2 panelists on each of the Area Studies, History, English, Politics and 1 on Cultural & Media Studies (as we had zero last time): 9 Americanists in all (the same number as in RAE 2008, when we had 6 on Area Studies and one on each of English, History and Politics).
  • MH noted that Bruce Brown had responded very positively, but at that stage (early August) was looking to appoint subpanel chairs before looking at the composition of panellists. (MH will follow up this correspondence once we know which subpanel chairs have been appointed). MH also wrote to Linda Anderson, the Chair of CCUE, to apprise her of the need for two Americanists on the English subpanel.
  • On the suggestion of BAAS Exec members MH wrote to three RAE 2008 panellists to encourage them to stand as subpanel chairs: Professor John Dumbrell (Politics), Professor Heidi Macpherson (Area Studies) and Professor Simon Newman (History). John and Simon did not feel able to apply for these positions; Heidi will apply for the Area Studies subpanel chair and MH has written on behalf of BAAS to support the application. The deadline for applications is 17 September.
  • MH has compiled the list of suggested panellist nominations sent from BAAS Exec members and discussed these with BAAS Officers. The Secretary will run over our recommendations in her business, and ask the Exec for their endorsement.

Subject Centres 

  • Business as outlined above under Invitations.

5.  Secretary’s Business

(a)   CM noted that, as usual, her main role revolved around information flow. She regularly passed information on to Kaleem Ashraf, Graeme Thompson and Michael Collins for ASIB, the mailbase and the website respectively. She helped direct people with research and awards queries to the appropriate sources. She had also updated our Awards listings with the Grants Register.

(b)   CM noted that work on the newly designed BAAS leaflet is ongoing.

(c)   CM reported that she had spend quite a lot of time updating archive sections of the website including the addition of recent Minutes, back issues of ASIB, and she had amended some links to AS centres. More work is required to bring these sections fully up to date.

(d)   CM represented BAAS at an ESRC event on the Humanities and Social Science on 16 June 2010.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

(a)   The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 13/09/10) were as follows: General Deposit, £27,467.73; Short Term Awards, £1882.92 (TS will move to close this account as it will be easier to manager the accounts); Current, £6120.39; making a total of £. The RBS Jersey account has been closed and the US Dollar Account has $9450.42.

(b)   TS reported that fully paid up members for 2010 currently stand at 314 (127 postgraduate). This does not compare favourably to the position last year, which was 500 (with 180 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders and those who have not yet renewed for 2010 (i.e. those who pay by cheque) are included, the numbers rise to 593 (235 postgraduate. The figures do not compare well to last September when we had 492 members (177 postgraduate). In June 2010 we had 307 members (124 postgraduate).

(c)   TS confirmed that the accounts are finalised and have been sent to the Charities Commission. The new accountants have decreased our bill.

(d)   TS also noted that BAAS’s gift aid rebateof £1939.95 came in on 14 July.

(e)   TS noted that the Standing Order renewals are still slow but some people have updated.

(f)    TS reported that PayPal is now online and available. There is also a button which will enable people to update their SO and pay the £7 deficit.

(g)   TS confirmed that the Embassy grant for next year has been approved. TS met with Sue Wedlake and the Embassy are expressing a preference for financial matters to be dealt with through the Treasurer (to help set up an audit trail). WK and the Development subcom are supportive of this shift. TS noted that this will increase her workload significantly and she would welcome some kind of support.

7.  Development Subcommittee (MH reporting on behalf on WK)

(a)   WK has revised the conference support form and recommends the usage of this form to all conference support applicants. The new form emphasises PG bursaries as an area BAAS would especially like to support. PD asked if WK would replace ‘PGs’ with the word ‘students’ so as to extend our reach to UGs and Schools. This was agreed as a good idea.

(b)   MH reported that the subcom had received four conference support requests, all of which were approved: 1. APG BAAS colloquium; 2. Congress to Campus; 3. Sarah Graham £220 Studies in Youth; 4. American Genders Conference £300.

(c)   MH reported that CB and JF had drafted a Schools flyer which had been circulated among the subcom for consideration. Various colleagues suggested amendments which will MH will forward to CB. The flyer has since been approved has been used at various events throughout Autumn 2010.

(d)   MH also noted that CB has been working with MC to reorganise the Schools pages. CB has also prepared a paper on Schools outreach which will be revisited in January.

8.  Postgraduate Business (ZF reporting)

(a)   ZF noted that the BAAS PG conference would take place at the Rothermere Institute on 15 November. The organisers had received 48 abstracts and 40 were accepted.

(b)   DE has been in contact with the organisers and will give a talk on publishing opportunities. MC will talk about the Fulbright New York Summer School scheme; and MH, CM and MW will be in attendance. MH noted that Lauren Welch from the Fulbright Commission would also give a short presentation.

(c)   ZF reported that she had looked into conference grants for PGs from the Royal Historical Society and suggested applying for £200 to subsidise History students’ attendance at the BAAS 2011 conference. The Exec agreed that this was an excellent idea and encouraged the application. TS will give BAAS conference posters for the PG conference.

9.  Publications Subcommittee (MW)

MW began his report by welcoming KA to the Development subcom as ASIB Editor. He thanked AK for her hard work.

(a)   BRRAM (KM sent a written report) 

  • The online version of the Bolton Whitman material will be ready for October.
  • The Samuel Martin collection from the British Library has been released, with new quality images.
  • RV will continue discussions with the University of Bangor archivists regarding the Penrith archives.

(b)   Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

  • Kasia Boddy’s book is now out.
  • Theresa Saxon’s book on American Drama is scheduled for release next July (2011).
  • Rachel McLennan’s proposal on American Autobiography has been revised and is with readers.
  • Nick Gerhardt is revising his manuscript proposal for his book on rock ‘n roll.

(c)   Journal of American Studies (JAS)

  • MW reported that the subcom had considered the CVs of various candidates for the JAS Editorial Board. Jacques Pothier (Versailles) emerged the clear favourite. MW asked the committee to endorse the nomination, which they did. CM requested a copy of Professor Pothier’s CV for the BAAS archives. Since the meeting Professor Pothier has accepted the nomination.
  • MW reported that the first phase of the JAS handover has gone well. SC asked MW to mention her thanks to all involved, especially her editorial assistant Christina Matteoti.
  • SL noted he is now shadowing SC but the new associate editors are already handing reviews and the electronic side of things. SL noted that he had asked MW to collate the Exec’s ideas about where BAAS would like to see the journal in terms of identity. He also asked for ideas about how to promote the journal, increase interaction with the readership, etc.
  • SL mentioned that at the upcoming Editorial Board meeting he will propose the idea of a revised screening process, thereby streamlining what is sent out to readers. SL will also propose publishing electronic articles in an effort to build the journal’s electronic identity. He noted that the editorial team are very pleased with the Katrina issue. A future special issue will focus on the anniversary of 9/11. He added that three further special issues have also been proposed. Such special issues, while clearly important, present problems in terms of clearing the backlog of articles awaiting publication. Thus the case for developing an electronic side of the journal is stronger than ever.
  • MH will write to SC to thank her for her work on the journal.
  • MW will write to the Exec to solicit views regarding the direction and identity of the journal.

(d)   American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

  • MW reported that the handover of the editorship has now taken place.
  • KA brought a sample copy of the forthcoming Autumn issue which contains more colour and pictures than previous editions. He has moved production to a small company near him (Run Print Run) and has saved £200. However this saving comes about because he has personally handled the typesetting. MW asked if there a case for splitting this typesetting work from the printer in order to make a saving. TS suggested that it would be difficult to find someone with the necessary skills. The Exec agreed that it was best to let the printer handle the typesetting.
  • MW also asked if the back cover of ASIB could be used for advertising, thereby producing a revenue stream to offset the costs of producing the newsletter. SL noted that many educational publications contained this kind of advertising and suggested that it would be possible to use the space for this purpose. MH suggested doing some market research on this, writing to presses and finding out interest. TS asked about the costs incurred by such advertising as typesetting would have to be changed. KA will investigate and report back to the committee via MW.

(e)   US Studies Online

  • MC will act as Editor for the Conference and the December issues. He will attend the BAAS PG conference in November with a view to selecting papers.
  • MW noted that the editors of 49th Parallel have contacted the BAAS PG conference organisers with regards to publishing some papers from the conference. MW suggested that US Studies Online reserve first choice. CM wondered if this was problematic as an author can choose where they might prefer for their article to come out. MW and MC will contact the BAAS PG organisers to discuss the matter further.
  • The Call for new Editor has gone to ASIB and will go out via the mailbase. The deadline for applications is 1 January 2011.

(f)    Website (MC reporting) 

  • MC thanked CM for regularly updating the website while he was abroad.
  • MC noted that he had made no progress on digitising the archive yet. However, all material is archived at the back end of the website.
  • MC will add a link to BRRAM.

10.  Conference Subcommittee (TRS reporting on behalf of GL)

(a)   The UEA accounts have been closed and paperwork will go to TS, who will forward an honorarium to the conference organiser.

(b)   All is in place for UCLAN 2011. There has been some flux in venues for panels due to bureaucratic issues. Some accommodation issues are yet to be resolved as one of the hotels is still in construction. However once completed it will have a good capacity and is in a good location.

(c)   Publicity for the conference is rolling along and new posters, which will feature the names of the plenary speakers, will soon be ready. All plenary speakers have been confirmed.

(d)   Sue Wedlake from the Embassy has suggested that the Embassy fund a ‘musical interlude’ from Harvey Cohen from King’s. This is to be a one-off event. TS is supportive of the idea and the Exec agreed this would be a great addition to the conference.

(e)   TRS mentioned that UCLAN have various plans afoot for local school involvement.

(f)    GL was written to various associations with formal invitations for panel proposal.

(g)   TRS noted that the overall cost of the conference is still being reviewed. He noted that it might be necessary to run the conference at a deficit and cap the cost at £350.

(h)   TS and TRS suggested it might be worth investing in future conferences, for instance producing BAAS banners that can be used year on year. GL will investigate costs and report back at the next meeting.

(i)     Ian Scott, the conference organiser for Manchester 2012, will attend meetings from January 2011. TRS asked the Exec to send plenary suggestions for 2012 to GL.

(j)     MH suggested that GL write to the Secretaries of the larger European Associations with information regarding the conference.

(k)    MH noted that he had written to Michael Macy regarding the funding of Indian scholars to attend the conference. He is hopeful of success and we might use this venture as a model for the future, for instance for delegates from China and Australia.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

(a)   IB reported that Laura Crean had started her teaching assistantship at the University of New Hampshire. He added that Robert Mason has taken over chief liaison and organiser of the teaching assistantships.

(b)   IB and CM noted that they had made enquiries with CB regarding the Arthur Miller Book Prize but had received no reply. TRS will follow this up. IB noted that the review panel for the prize should include a representative from the Embassy, the BAAS Chair and someone from Centre. The deadline should coincide with the deadline for the BAAS Book Prize and the prize amount needs setting.

(c)   IB noted that all the Awards posters (apart from one final one) are ready to be distributed and are also online. He thanked the Secretary for organising the design and production of the posters for the 2011 Awards. Next year this will be handled by Louise Cunningham, the Awards administrator.

12.  Libraries and Resources Committee (DE reporting)

(a)   DE reported that the exploration of resource sharing is nearly completed and he expects to table a report at the next meeting. The idea is to look at strategies for sharing resources in regions and national spheres.

(b)   The BLARs journal is to produce an acquisitions listing.

(c)   DE is working with MC to ensure the journal is updated regularly online.

(d)   DE raised the issue of financial support for the journal, noting the difficulties of extracting guarantees about funding. He suggested the provision of emergency funding from the BAAS treasury if necessary (but with the expectation of continued Embassy funding). The Exec agreed to this in principle but it needs to be reviewed in June 2012 (i.e. after the election of the new Treasurer and every such election thereafter). DE noted that it might also be worth considering moving RAS over entirely to electronic function.

(e)   DE also raised the issue of the BLARs constitution which in past has been quasi autonomous in order to give librarians a platform independent of academics. Committee members are not elected but are seconded. With this in mind, the BLARs committee have asked if, in future, they may recommend someone for the role of Chair who is finally approved by the Exec. The Exec endorsed this proposal. The terms of office still apply.

13. EAAS

(a)   PD reported that the EAAS website has been redesigned and looks very good.

(b)   PD noted that he is gathering information for the next newsletter.

(c)   The next EAAS conference will be held in Istanbul from 29 March to 2 April 2012.

14. Any Other Business

(a)   MH noted that he is trying to fix a date for Heads of American Studies meeting. He has settled on 10 December at the ISA. The date is strategic given the announcement of the REF Panel Chairs and results of the REF Pilot Impact Exercise and Comprehensive Spending Review. He asked for other Agenda items. DE suggested looking at the national position/shape of AS (as noted in Minutes 263) and the mutation of AS over the past 10 years. MH asked about how (and which) data could be captured from University schools and/or departments.

  • Colleagues suggested that we ascertain information about provision and changes in provision.
  • It was suggested that the HESA might be able to help with student numbers and even application numbers.
  • It might also be useful to look at Americanists who teach in other departments, such as English, Politics and History, with a view to measuring Americanist topics that students have been drawn to.
  • IB noted that what is required is a picture of institutional change. With the closure of departments it seems like AS is in an unhealthy state but if we can show the picture to be otherwise then we can support places at risk.
  • DE added that this would help us to see the way forward and address the philosophical issues of what, if anything, we need to do.
  • MW noted that scholars based in single subject departments really need the subject association. BAAS and the conference is very important for many such scholars, offering a way forward which is missing in their home environments.  BAAS provides opportunities for the support of interdisciplinary discussion, providing the rationale for AS locations. All agreed that it is important for BAAS to look to support isolated interdisciplinarians but also flag AS centres and departments.
  • JF asked if it was worth looking at Modern Literatures and monitoring their mechanism for gaining government support, etc. DE concurred that we need to think of perspectives like this.
  • MH reiterated that the kind of information required includes student numbers, staff numbers, institutional changes, submission for RAEs, application numbers (HESA), ideas of where the students have gone (narrative examples), narrative elements like Hook Centre, and anecdotal external relations cases. He noted that this was a significant amount of work and would take some time. DE agreed but suggested we prioritise the list and work through it methodically. The key areas are, clearly, the RAE narrative, institutional changes, and student and applicant numbers.
  • The Exec agreed that this was a job we would need to pay a PG to undertake over the course of one year as an internship project. The committee agreed that a sum of £2000, staggered over four instalments would be suitable. JF suggested following the Nottingham internship model by setting a number of work hours, a clear work specification and methodologies, etc. JF added that he would be happy to act as a point of contact. MH will work with the officers and JF to draw up the BAAS internship specification, to be advertised via the mailbase, ASIB and the website. The internship will start in April 2011 and the successful candidate will be announced at conference.

(b)   CM raised the possibility of adding two new members to the Executive Committee. All were in general agreement that this would be a good thing and the matter is to be revisited at the January meeting.

(c)   PD noted that he would welcome suggestions for speakers/events at the Eccles Centre. Forthcoming events include an afternoon seminar with Tom Mann (a politics pundit from the US), a evening with Brian Cox, the Congress to Campus series, the APG BAAS colloquium, and a December conference entitled ‘Can Government be Repaired?’. Spring events include an exhibition of American English (with Steven Pinker) and a session on rap, a session on rhetoric, Garrison Keeler on 15 March, Philip Bobbitt on 29 March, and the BAAS and BACS lectures. Possible future events include Michael Dukakis, a conference on Rivers in Cities, the Anglo American conservation, the Shakers, and Amanda Palmer.

(d)   MH raised idea of a future BAAS conference in London in 2015. The idea will be revisited at the January meeting.

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of Manchester on Friday 14 January 2011. Subcoms will commence at 10.30am.

Dr. Catherine Morley


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