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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 265


Meeting 265

British Association for American Studies

 Minutes 265th

Minutes of the 265th Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Manchester on 14 January 2011 at 1.00pm.

1. Present: M Halliwell (Chair), W Kaufman (Vice Chair), C Morley (Secretary), T Saxon (Treasurer), I Bell, D Ellis, Z Feghali, S Lucas, G Lewis, R Mason, and M Whalan.

Apologies:   C Bates, M Collins, P Davies, J Fagg, I Morgan and T Ruys Smith.

In attendance: Dr Rachael McLennan (UEA).

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 Heidi Macpherson has been appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at De Montfort University from January 2011.
  • Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier, School of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, has been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize worth £70,000 for her research in the History of African American Art.
  • The new Journal of American Studies team is Professor Scott Lucas (Birmingham) as Editor, Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier (Nottingham) as Associate Editor (Reviews) and Dr Bevan Sewell (Nottingham) as Associate Editor (Media). The terms of Scott and Celeste are January 2011 to December 2014, and for Bevan January 2011 to December 2012 (renewable for one term).
  • Professor Guo-Qiang Qiao from Shanghai International Studies University will be a Leverhulme Visiting Fellow in American Literature at the University of Leicester in spring 2011 and spring 2012.
  • MH has been appointed to the English Association Higher Education Committee, which will be useful for BAAS, particularly as the Chair of the AHRC sits on that Committee. MH will report back to the Exec after the EAHEC meeting next week. 

(b)   Invitations

  • MH noted that he had attended the very-well organized BAAS Postgraduate Conference at the RAI, Oxford in November 2010, along with CM, MW, DE, MC and ZF. MH also had the opportunity to have a follow-up meeting with Lauren Welch from the Fulbright Commission. At the PG conference, Lauren, MC and MH provided a triple-header talk about BAAS, the Fulbright Commission and the NYU Summer School; and DE gave a very useful lunchtime session on publishing.
  • MH attended a meeting at the British Academy at the end of October for Scholarly Associations – his report was circulated at the time. MH spoke to Professor Bruce Brown, the Chair of REF Panel D, at this event.
  • MH was invited to, but couldn’t attend, a meeting on internationalization at the British Academy on 11 November (the day of the student strikes).
  • BAAS held the Heads of American Studies meeting at the Institute for the Study of the Americas on 10 December 2010. The Secretary’s minutes were circulated to those in attendance and the wider Heads/Representatives list.
  • MH will be attending the launch of the Campaign for Social Sciences at the House of Lords on 20 January along with the Secretary, and also the AHRC Emergency General Meeting at the Royal Academy of Arts on 4 February.

(c)   Correspondence

  • MH wrote to David Willetts in October (on the day of the Browne Report) about BAAS’s concerns regarding 4-year degrees. He received a rather generic response in late November which acknowledges our concerns.
  • MH wrote to Roger Kain, the Dean of the School of Advanced Study, London, to promote the cause of the Institute for the Study of the Americas. With Tim Lynch moving to Melbourne, Iwan Morgan remains the only full-time US specialist at the ISA. MH noted he received a receptive letter from Roger Kain and will follow this up.
  • MH wrote to the organisers of this year’s BAAS Postgraduate Conference, Stephen Ross and Aaron Hanlon, to congratulate them on a successful conference.
  • MH wrote to Susan Castillo to mark the end of her term of office as Editor of the Journal of American Studies.
  • MH has continued to correspond about the REF over the last three months. IB asked if MH had been in touch with Professor Birch (English). MH noted that he had been in touch with her, as he had been with other REF Subpanel Chairs.

(d)   Consultations

  • Major business here involved the AS Heads meeting held on 10 December. The key issues discussed at the meeting were: (i) Recruitment Patterns; (ii) Institutional Change; (iii) REF 2014 & Impact; and (iv) External Relations: Subject Centres and the BAAS Internship.

The following action points emerged from the Heads meeting:

The Chair will write to strategic individuals in the community and policy bodies, on the proviso that Heads send names to MH by the end of January 2011.

  1. BAAS will consider ways to lobby Vice-Chancellors regarding 4-year degrees, but we should wait until the release of the White Paper before proceeding with this action point. We agreed to present two proposals: (i) 1/3 fees for year abroad and/or (ii) scholarships within the subject area. The scholarship model seems to be favoured strategy.
  2. BAAS will write to the AS REF panellists with these five points: (i) the quality of a given piece should be given primacy; (ii) international reach is crucially important; (iii) cross-referral is important for American Studies scholarship; (iv) to take heed of cross-disciplinary impact; and (v) emphasize the high calibre of US presses and stringent review processes for edited books.
  3. BAAS will advertise the BAAS Fulbright Internship.
  4. BAAS will develop a strategy regarding the HEA Subject Centres.
  • MH will circulate a set of PowerPoint slides from an Impact Event held recently at Leicester.
  • DE added that the LLAS Subject Centre is having an emergency meeting in London today to discuss the way ahead for the subject centre if and when it is cut lose from the HEA in York. They are contemplating strategies on how they might continue as a subject centre and the financial sources that will need to be available be able to maintain it. He noted the possibility also of the HEA locating people across the country. DE will report on this at the next meeting when he has firmer details. MH noted that we cannot develop a strategy until we know what’s happening. In terms of the English Subject Centre personnel, he noted that Nicole King and Ben Knights may try to maintain roles at RHUL.
  • The logistics of the BAAS Internship were discussed in detail. Finalised copy of the document has been re-circulated and all Exec members are encouraged to promote. WK’s successor as Development subcom chair will act as mentor to the BAAS Intern.
  • In terms of the first action point above, MH noted that he had not had any information on the names/contact details of policy bodies. MH will pursue SN for information and he asked the Exec to forward names/contacts.
  • In terms of the second action point, the Exec discussed how institutions and American Studies centres could defray the extra cost of doing a 4-year degree for future AS students. MH noted that the discussion at the Heads of AS meeting had produced two possible strategies (mentioned above), and the Heads favoured the second of these. The Exec endorsed this. MW noted that in terms of fair access, the major problem students face is with the visa, i.e. having money in the bank to guarantee their visa and suggested that this needs to be addressed too. MH will talk to subject associations in ML to get a sense of their plans for the 4-year degree and to share our ideas. The Exec agreed it was best to wait until after the publication of the White Paper before writing to Vice Chancellors.

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 Peterson’s Register.

(b)   CM reported that she had fielded a number of queries from scholars in the US about BAAS membership and BAAS publications. She thanked DE for securing some documents from the BAAS Archive in Birmingham.

(c)   CM noted that she had attended the BAAS Postgraduate Conference at the RAI, Oxford in November 2010, along with MH, MW, DE, MC and ZF.

(d)   CM noted that she had liaised with Lauren Welch and others from the Fulbright Commission about improving links with BAAS. She also publicised a number of Fulbright initiatives.

(e)   CM noted that work on the newly designed BAAS leaflet has stalled and she will leave this task for her successor.

(f)    CM will be attending the launch of the Campaign for Social Sciences at the House of Lords on 20 January. She also intends to attend the launch of the Humanities Matter Campaign at the House of Commons on 9 March 2011.

(g)   CM attended the AS Heads meeting in December 2010 (Minutes previously circulated).

(h)   CM noted that she, along with IB and RM, had interviewed the shortlisted candidates for the BAAS Wyoming Graduate Assistantship awards on 13 January 2011.

(i)     CM added that she had been advertising the upcoming BAAS elections, where the position of Secretary and three 3-year Exec positions would be available. She asked the Exec to publicise the AGM and the elections to ensure we get good candidates to stand.

(j)     CM reported that she had spent 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.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

(a)   The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 13/01/11) were as follows: General Deposit, £46,685.17; Short Term Awards, £1,883.15 (TS will move to close this account as it will be easier to manager the accounts); Current, £944.65; making a total of £49,512.97. The RBS Jersey account has been closed and the US Dollar Account has $9,454.27.

(b)   TS reported that fully paid up members for 2011 (14/01/11) currently stand at 296 (122 postgraduate). This compares favourably to the position last year, which was 210 (with 74 postgraduates). When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders and those who have not yet renewed for 2011 (i.e. those who pay by cheque) are included, the numbers rise to 424 (154 postgraduate).

(c)   TS noted that quite a few people who pay by SO have sent cheques, which require processing.

(d)   TS added that the online system is working well and is proving to be very effective despite the occasional blip. She noted that she receives a lot of spam comes through this system. She also warned that we need to be aware of attempts at hacking.

(e)   TS and WK are to meet soon to discuss the Embassy support forms.

7.  Development Subcommittee (WK reporting)

(a)   WK reported that he had attended the AS heads event in December.

(b)   WK has rewritten the conference support form to include information regarding the support of School and UG students.

(c)   In terms of funding requests, the Development subcom recommended that BAAS award £225 to Francisco Costa at UEA for a Tennessee Williams conference. This was unanimously supported.

(d)   WK noted that CB had submitted a plan regarding potential outreach activities. This plan had generated some discussion about developing links between BAAS and university departments. CB suggested that BAAS might contact universities for lists of their schools contacts. Those universities which responded might then be regional hubs for BAAS schools liaison activity. The eventual ambition would be to have a regional hub advertising lectures on AS topics, targeted at Year 5 and Year 6. WK to liaise with CB about this but we need more clarity for objectives on this initiative. The subcommittee will consider the suggestions and come back to the next meeting with some concrete plans. DE added that if we do go down this line then we need to think about the resources implications of high profile/high appeal events. The argument advanced by CB is that Schools impact will only be achieved at a local level.

(e)   CB has been in touch with TS about a Schools event at the UCLan conference. TS noted that there are things in process at Preston at the moment and local schools in Preston have been made aware of the conference. ZF suggested a Schools lunch rather than a vague discussion forum might work well. GL noted that in the past such lunches have worked very well and have shown how vibrant the area is.

(f)    MH noted that BAAS has developed some new Schools leaflets, which will be at the conference in April. He offered thanks to JF for coordinating and helping with the design of the leaflet.

8.  Postgraduate Business (ZF reporting)

(a)   ZF noted the success of the BAAS PG conference in Oxford and thanked all involved. She added that the PG organisers felt very supported.

(b)   ZF reported that she had received 4 applications for hosting the 2011 BAAS PG Conference: ‘American Frontiers’ from Birmingham, ‘American Borders’ from UEA; ‘America in the World’ from Brunel, and ‘Writing the Real’ from Bath Spa University. Based on the Development subcom discussions, she recommended the Exec support the bid from Birmingham. The Exec approved this. The conference will be held in November 2011 (exact date to be confirmed). ZF will write to the organisers and the unsuccessful candidates.

(c)   MH noted that the Birmingham PG conference organisers will need to have a mentor. ZF noted that this seems to be Professor Scott Lucas. MH to write to SL. ZF will be involved in the production of the poster. MH also suggested that ZF draw up a briefing document for the organisers regarding procedures for the conference.

(d)   MW raised the issue of the confusion regarding the conference issue of US Studies Online and 49th Parallel. Problems had arisen due to poor communication between the editors and 49th Parallel solicited for contributions during the conference. There had been some concerns about this and it has complicated the process for getting the papers into US Studies Online. MC (acting Editor of US Studies Online) is interested in formalising the links between the two journals but noted that we need to be very clear that US Studies Online have the first option on these papers, without discouraging 49th Parallel either. ZF was more directly involved in some of the discussions and has discussed the issue with MC who is meeting with the editors of 49th Parallel on 28 January to discuss the matter further.

(e)   MH noted that at future PG conferences Exec members in attendance should be used as panel chairs. If there are parallel sessions it is difficult for the US Studies Online Editor to see everything. Exec members will need to liaise in advance to ensure that every paper is heard by at least one of us.

(f)    ZF asked for reconfirmation that the PG conference organisers get £200. CM to check back in the Minutes.

(g)   ZF also flagged up possibility of a PG lunch at the conference in April. ZF to liaise with TS.

(h)   DE returned to the issue of 49th Parallel, noting that Dr Helen Laville has been appointed as an academic overseer to ensure continuity on the journal. DE will email HL with the information.

9.  Publications Subcommittee (MW)

(a)   BRRAM (KM sent a written report) 

  • The material relating to the West Indies and Latin America has been completed and sent to SO customers.
  • KM is still awaiting Evie Vernon’s Introduction, which should be ready soon.
  • The Bolton Whitman collection is now ready, as is the Dr Brazer collection.

(b)   Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

  • Dr Rachael McLennan has had her book proposal on American Autobiography approved.
  • TS has submitted the manuscript for American Theatre: History, Context, Form.

(c)   Journal of American Studies (JAS)

  • Issue 44.4 has been delayed slightly and this has been noted with CUP.
  • Issue 45.1 is Professor Susan Castillo’s farewell issue and it will be out in the Spring.
  • The full layout ready for 44.2 and 44.3 will be 9/11 special issue.
  • The issue regarding prestige and online publication arose again. If the Journal were to proceed with print only articles then with already accepted pieces the journal is full till the end of 2012. SL’s inclination is to move ahead with online-only publications in certain circumstances. A forthcoming Summer 2012 issue will have two articles in print linked to two articles online, which will comprise a suite on a particular theme. There was strong support from the subcom for this principle.
  • MW noted that he’d sent out a call for information on potential changes/new directions for JAS but had not received a great response. He appealed for more replies.
  • MW noted that the JAS Editorial team are piloting the online submission system.  They have been trained in this by CUP and it will enable tracking all submissions online.

(d)   American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

  • Work on the next issue is progressing and KA will mail out in the latter half of February. 31 January is the copy deadline. KA is coordinating a joint mailing with RAS.
  • KA has been in discussion with Bob Pomfret (based at Oxford Brookes University) who will continue typesetting but keep new design templates.
  • Picking up on the previous discussion about advertising in ASIB, MW has liaised with Martine Walsh about this. CUP journals would usually charge between £150-£250 for an advert. However, an advert in ASIB would add £250 to printing cost so yield very little. For the advantage of such a small amount it was not worth the transition. DE wondered if the amount would change if an advert were placed on the back cover only. MW will ask KA to return to the printer to see if this would incur any extra cost.
  • MW reported that KA had proposed a new Q&A feature (max. two pages) with members of the subject association. KA has made contact with a relative of Richard Wright for a potential feature of this nature. Subcom thought this was a good idea and KA will be in touch to look for suggestions.

(e)   US Studies Online

  • See business under Postgraduate Business.
  • The Publications Subcom recommended Carina Spalding (University of Manchester) for the position of US Studies Online Editor. The Exec happily endorsed Ms Spaulding. MH will have a short meeting with Ms Spaulding next week in Manchester on 24 January.

(f)    Website (MC reporting) 

  • MC noted that an RSS feed has been added to News and Events button.
  • MC has added the links with BRRAM and continued to put up events all Autumn including information regarding the BAAS internship.
  • ASIB is now fully archived and the page is to be tidied up with folder links.
  • The latest edition of US Studies Online is now on the website.
  • The introductory page message will be updated more regularly with new features/responses to debates.

10.  Conference Subcommittee (GL reporting)

(a)   GL has written to various European associations and invited them to the conference.

(b)   GL investigated the cost of producing a BAAS Conference banner. This would come to somewhere in the region of £200-£300. TS will check the cost with UCLan.

(c)   GL is to liaise with SM regarding the back list of conference venues. SM is on maternity leave.

(d)   The UCLan conference is coming along very well. One of the two hotels is about to open. The University of Manchester reception has been organised. The conference banquet is no longer in Deepdale. A solid number of paper proposals has been received. These will be put into panels in the next two weeks. The full cost of the conference will be £335. The online booking form is ready. GL asked if Abstracts Online is still funded by Embassy. TS will check the general conference budget.

(e)   Manchester 2012 is coming along well. The conference will be housed in new buildings, teaching rooms have been booked and 100 hotel rooms have also been booked. MH suggested the organisers use rooms in the Ibis, the Holiday Inn Express, Jury’s Inn and Premier Inn as well as at the Manchester conference centre. The banquet is likely to be in the Town Hall. The cost should come in at somewhere in the region of £320-£330.

(f)    GL has made a few enquiries regarding the possibility of a London-based conference for 2015. He has made contact with Dr Kasia Boddy who thought it would be a good idea; Dr Boddy cannot be the main organiser herself but will forward the names of potential organisers. A collaborative event might be possible but we would need to think about a banquet and accommodation.

(g)   GL suggested he bring a review of the conference more generally to the summer meeting. We need to think again about what we really want from the conference, how long it ought to be, etc. We also need to consider if abstracts should be considered anonymously, think about themed strands for the conference, consider using Exec to sift through proposals, etc. TS noted that we also need to consider the Eccles input and the Embassy input in terms of wider community relationships. CM noted that we also need to have a space for the AGM.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

(a)   IB thanked the Exec for all their hard work during the Awards season. This year has seen record numbers of applications for Awards with 49 applications for the STAs, 13 applications for the BAAS Book Prize, 12 applications for the BAAS Book Prize and 15 application for the BAAS-Wyoming Graduate Assistantships.

(b)   IB offered thanks to Robert Mason for all his work on the TAShips. Everything is in place for New Hampshire (History) and Virginia (English) next year.

12.  Libraries and Resources Committee (DE reporting)

(a)   DE missed the most recent BLARs meeting due to weather conditions.

(b)   DE reported that the social network session is now in place for the UCLan conference and set for usual time slot.

(c)   BLARs has been successful in its Embassy bid to support the production of RAS. The final production arrangements are in process.

(d)   DE reported that members of BLARs are concerned by the BL’s decision to destroy hard copies of journals and research items (due to digitisation).

(e)   DE’s main item of business centred on his proposal for sharing American Studies resources. BLARs have been looking at idea of sharing and collaborating resources electronically and have drawn up a document, which was taken to the Development subcom. This is a lengthy document with numerous proposals and suggestions, therefore more time is needed to weigh up the virtues of the various ideas. The Exec will come back to the issue in June, after everyone has had a chance to read the document. The matter will be managed by the new Chair of the Development subcom. DE apologised for the delay in producing the document, noting that BLARs is a committee comprised of librarians who have worked on this out of kindness.

13. EAAS (CM reporting on behalf of PD)

(a)   The EAAS newsletter did not appear. PD will investigate why this is the case and report back to the committee.

(b)   The call for proposals for EAAS Conference workshops/lectures has been circulated (and was passed on to BAAS members). This call can be found on the EAAS website, and the deadline is the end of January, so please encourage those who might be interested to put in their ideas for the conference.

(c)   At the last meeting the precise location and dates were still unconfirmed, but the EAAS is now advertising the dates as 30 March-2 April 2012, in Izmir, Turkey.

14. Any Other Business

MH noted that CM, MW, WK and RM are stepping down and suggested a meal the night before the conference (Wednesday, 13 April 2011).

15. Date of next meeting

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held at the University of Central Lancashire on Thursday 14 April 2011 at 10.30am. Subcoms will not meet.

Dr. Catherine Morley


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