British Association for American Studies
Annual General Meeting 2011
The 2011 AGM of BAAS was held on Friday 15 April at the University of Central Lancashire at 3:15pm.
Secretary Jo Gill (to 2014)
Committee Nigel Bowles (to 2014)
Sue Currell (to 2014)
Sylvia Ellis (to 2014)
The Treasurer circulated copies of the Trustees’ Report and the draft audited accounts, which she asked the AGM to approve. Dick Ellis (Birmingham) proposed that the accounts be approved; Will Kaufman (UCLAN) seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
The Treasurer noted that the bank accounts (as at 13 April 20011) were as follows: General Deposit, £36,647.42; Short Term Awards, £1,883.38; Current, £7,379.97; making a total of £45,910.77. The US Dollar Account has $9,454.27.
TS reported that fully paid up members as at April 2011 currently stand at 302 (104 postgraduate). This compares favourably to the position last year, which was 294 (with 118 postgraduates). With no change to SO the number of members rises to 424 (130 postgraduate). TS reminded the AGM of the need to update Standing Orders (to inform the bank of the new BAAS membership fees) as those who have not done so are not full members and therefore are not entitled to vote in the elections.
In terms of the accounts, TS noted a healthy surplus of £2,222 this year.
The Chair offered a comprehensive verbal report in which he reflected on the past twelve months, noting that the past eight months in particular have been the most turbulent during his – and many colleagues’ – time in Higher Education. Attacks on the foundation of higher and further education in the UK have gone on at such speed that it has been hard to catch breath or to examine alternatives to the HEFCE cuts that we all face this autumn, before higher fees start in autumn 2012. The government have claimed that their decision to cut state support for undergraduate fees is blind to any subject area, but it is clear that 100% cuts to arts and social science subjects – those underpinning our American Studies community – is not the equivalent to smaller percentage cut to STEM subjects.
With most universities intending to charge £8000-£9000 fees per year, 2012 will be a difficult year for undergraduate recruitment across the sector, particularly for non-school subjects with school leavers’ choices likely to become more conservative, swayed by the prospect of £40,000+ debts after a 3-year degree. The government have not fully considered the knock-on effect on 4-year degrees with a year abroad, or recruitment to postgraduate degrees where higher fees and mounting debt is likely to deter many. The fact that fees will not be paid up front, and the ‘graduate contribution’ will be staggered across a life-time’s working, might become normalized in a few years’ time.
Against this turbulent climate, MH thought it would be helpful for us to think about the very beginnings of BAAS in 1955. A fortnight ago, the Secretary and MH visited the BAAS Archive at the University of Birmingham and consulted the articles and constitution from the first BAAS meeting held at University College Oxford in July 1955.
The articles state that: ‘The purpose of the Association shall be the encouragement of study and research in the history, institutions, literature and geography of the United States’; the focus of BAAS should be ‘the holding of conferences; the periodical publication of papers; the establishment of a centre of record for research materials in the UK, including microfilm; and the investigation and encouragement of the means of travel and study for British scholars in the US.’
Clearly, our work is broader and more inclusive than 56 years ago, but also remains close to the original articles. The breadth of what we do now is clear from the spread of subjects being presented at this conference, including politics and international relations, film and visual culture, intellectual, social and cultural history, music, theatre, law, material culture, social networking, and publishing. It is also evident in the special panel on ‘American Studies in India’, for which we are grateful to the US Embassy in New Delhi for their sponsorship, and the ‘Fulbright Panel’ which has been organized by our colleagues at the Fulbright Commission. We remain, as ever, very grateful to the US Embassy in London for their personal and financial support, and to the Eccles Centre at the British Library that continues to enhance the range of awards available to our community, including an exciting new award for 2011: a Writer in Residence at the British Library.
MH reflected that it is heartening to know that BAAS has stuck to our core principles and purpose over the last 56 years. Although we might be a more diffuse community now than five years ago, when there were more American Studies departments, the subject is thriving at degree, course and module level. Undergraduate admissions were strong in 2010 and look very good for 2011; so, although we face tough times in 2012 and 2013, we do so from a strong base. Reorganization has taken place recently at the University of Sussex and the University of Nottingham – the School of American and Canadian Studies at Nottingham will be a department within a broader School from autumn 2011, and Film Studies has already broken away from American Studies to join another unit – and BAAS remains concerned over the future of the US concentration at the Institute for the Study of the Americas. BAAS will keep making the institutional arguments for the visibility of American Studies, but there is still much that keeps our community visible and vibrant. To take just three examples: (i) Iwan Morgan’s First UK Survey of US Presidents; (ii) Sue Currell’s major contribution to the 3-part BBC documentary ‘Glamour’s Golden Age’, and (iii) the new BAAS website which was launched as a prototype at last year’s AGM, and is now fully functional.
MH reported that it has been a very good year for appointments and promotions.
- From September 2011 Dr Nigel Bowles (University of Oxford) will become full-time Director of the Rothermere American Institute and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford from September 2011.
- Professor Heidi Macpherson (previous Chair of BAAS) has been appointed as Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at De Montfort University.
- Professor Philip Davies (Director of the Eccles Centre) has been appointed the President of the European Association for American Studies for one year until April 2012.
- Professor Geoff Plank joined the School of American Studies at UEA as Professor of American History in autumn 2010.
- Dr Andew Warnes has been promoted to a Reader at the University of Leeds
- Dr Mark Whalan (Exeter) has been appointed as Associate Professor and the Robert D. and Eve E. Horn Chair of English at the University of Oregon, to start in autumn 2011.
- A double congratulation to Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Nottingham) who has been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize worth £70,000 for her research in the History of African American Art and an AHRC Fellowship worth £48,000 for work on Horace Pippin.
- Dr Sue Currell (Sussex) has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for her project ‘The History of the New Masses Magazine, 1926-48’ worth £44,283.
- Dr Jo Gill (Exeter) has been awarded a Leverhulme International Network Grant for a Suburban Cultures Network worth £68,836.
- Professor Will Kaufman (University of Central Lancashire) was awarded an AHRC Fellowship worth £34,488 for his project ‘Radical Guthrie’.
MH reported that much of the correspondence in his first eight months as Chair concerned the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It was BAAS’s hope to ensure that we had 9 Americanists on the various subpanels to which American Studies work will be submitted: Area Studies, History, English, Politics and International Relations, and Cultural and Communication Studies. BAAS submitted names of nominated colleagues and, although our intentions were not fully realized (largely due to HEFCE wanting to limit the overall number of panelists), he thanked all colleagues who agreed to have their names but forward, and particularly the successfully nominated panelists: Heidi Macpherson (De Montfort) and Brian Ward (Manchester) on the Area Studies Subpanel; Martin Halliwell (Leicester) on the English Subpanel; Susan Mary Grant (Newcastle) on the History Subpanel; and John Dumbrell (Durham) on the Politics and International Relations Subpanel. MH noted that other colleagues in the broader community have also been chosen as panelists: Susan Hodgett (Queen’s, Belfast) on Area Studies; James Dunkerley (Queen Mary) on Politics and IR, and Yvonne Tasker (UEA) on Cultural and Communication Studies. This provides American Studies with a good spread of expertise within REF Panels C and D, and there may be the possibility of bringing in Independent Assessors for busy subpanels later in the process.
The Chair noted that during the course of 2010-11 he attended a number of meetings and consultations at the British Academy, the AHRC, the ESRC and the Academy of Social Sciences. The research councils’ flat-cash settlement and the maintenance of QR funding (members should note that 2* research will not receive QR funding in the future) was a much better outcome than many feared, but with administrative costs slashed at the research councils and the need for councils to ‘manage demand’ there will be fewer and bigger grants, with the probability that consortia bids for PhD studentships and networks will be the way of the future. BAAS notes with some concern the loss of the British Academy Small Research Awards; the British Academy made the case to the government that these should continue, but lost that argument in their funding settlement. This makes the BAAS Awards even more important to American Studies scholars needing to conduct archive work abroad.
The Chair noted that there have been a number of other activities this year; among them the following four:
- In September BAAS wrote to Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, and Vice-Chancellors to lobby for the continuation of the range of Subject Centres. Unfortunately, this lobbying was unsuccessful, and the Subject Centres look set to fold into a centralized resource in York. BAAS is uncertain what the future holds for ‘Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies’ as they are currently represented in the Subject Centre at the University of Southampton.
- The Chair wrote to David Willetts, the Universities Minister, the day the Browne Report was published in October to indicate the threat of high fees to American Studies, particularly the four-year model with a year abroad. MH received a reply some weeks later, but without real engagement with the detail of the letter. As a follow-up, a letter written by BUTEX (British Universities Transatlantic Exchange Association) with input from BAAS has gone to David Willetts and Alan Langlands at HEFCE this week, including co-signatories from a number of interested parties, including the Chair of the British Association for Canadian Studies, the Director of the Eccles Centre, and a range of Modern Languages Association. At the Heads of American Studies Meeting, held at the ISA in December, attendees discussed this issue and the possibility that universities might either agree (i) to students paying 1/3 fees for the year abroad or (ii) that dedicated scholarships can be offered for four-year degrees including an accredited year abroad, in order not to deter applicants.
- At that Heads meeting attendees also discussed an idea generated by the BAAS Executive of appointing an intern to map key changes within the American Studies community between the decade of 2000-10. This would focus on institutional change and the RAE, but also developments in study abroad, changes in the postgraduate community and BAAS’s external relationships with the US Embassy, the Fulbright Commission, the Eccles Centre, Schools, etc. The internship was advertised in association with the Fulbright Commission, and the BAAS Officers interviewed from a strong field of early career scholars in early April at the University of Birmingham. Richard Martin from Birkbeck College was appointed BAAS Intern. Richard will be working closely with the Development Subcommittee during 2011-12 and BAAS aims to present the results of this study at next year’s BAAS Annual General Meeting at the University of Manchester.
- BAAS is also delighted to announce a new Graduate Teaching Assistant to add to the three we currently administer at the Universities of Virginia, New Hampshire and Wyoming. From 2012 we will be adding a GTA in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi.
The Chair concluded his report by thanking all the members of the Executive Committee, and particularly those colleagues whose term on the Executive has come to an end.
He thanked Will Kaufman (Vice Chair of BAAS in 2010-11 and Chair of Development for a number of years); Mark Whalan (Chair of Publications); Robert Mason (who has worked on both the Conference Subcommittee and during the last year looked after the BAAS GTAs); and our Teaching Rep, Chris Bates.
Finally, the Chair thanked Catherine Morley who is stepping down after four years as BAAS Secretary, but who has been on the BAAS Exec for 9 years, first as Postgraduate Representative when she was also Editor of US Studies Online, then Editor of American Studies in Britain, before taking over as Secretary in 2007. MH noted that the Secretary was the driving force behind the new BAAS website, she also works closely with the Chair of Awards, and she approaches all tasks with good cheer and enthusiasm. He added that she would be missed on the BAAS Executive Committee.
George Lewis began his report by acknowledging what a huge success the UCLAN conference had been so far, and offered public congratulations to Theresa Saxon and her team of for the hard work they had put in before and during the conference. GL noted that this year he had visited the 2012 conference site at Manchester with Ian Scott, the 2012 conference organiser. The conference will be based at the University of Manchester (12-15 April 2012) and preparations are already well underway with the three plenary speakers already confirmed. He noted that the call for papers would be available soon and members were asked to consider submitting proposals early to allow for planning.
The 2013 (18-21 April) conference will be held at the University of Exeter, organised by Jo Gill, Sinéad Moynihan and Paul Williams. The University of Birmingham will host the conference in 2014 (10-13 April). There are currently two tenders for the 2015 conference. GL invited suggestions for future conferences.
GL concluded his report by thanking all members of the Conference Subcommittee, especially his predecessor Dr Sarah Maclachlan.
Mark Whalan reported that it had been a busy year for the BAAS Publications Subcommittee, with a number of key personnel changes making this a year of transition. In April MW took over from MH as Chair of the subcommittee and by the end of 2010 the Journal of American Studies, American Studies in Britain and US Studies Online all had new Editorial teams.
At the Journal of American Studies, Professor Susan Castillo retired as Editor after working with the journal for a decade. MW thanked her, on behalf of BAAS, for the extraordinary skill and intellectual vision she brought to this position. BAAS was pleased to welcome Professor Scott Lucas (Birmingham) to the role of Editor, assisted by Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier (Nottingham) and Dr Bevan Sewell (Nottingham) as Associate Editors.
The March 2011 issue of JAS was the last supervised by Professor Castillo. The new team have already begin discussions with Cambridge University Press about the framing of the journal to ensure that it is not only seen as a location for individual, high-quality essays, review articles, and reviews but as an entity putting forward interrogations of ‘American Studies’ in the 21st century. The June 2011 issue will feature a statement by the new Editors. It will also out forth a revised presentation on the electronic side, as part of the move of published selected articles in electronic-only format. It is hoped this policy will expand the journal’s provision of material, allow it to clear the backlog of material that is currently delaying the lead-time of articles. This June issue will then be followed by two special issues: September 2011’s ‘Ten Years After 9/11’ and March 2012’s ‘Oil and American Studies’. Three other proposals for special issues are under consideration. The JAS editors welcome ideas for roundtable reviews, especially on recent titles they feel are deserving of in-depth attention and debate.
Supporting this development is CUP’s introduction of ScholarOne for the electronic-only handling of submitted essays and the reader/reviewer process for all contributions to the journal. After a period of transition, the new system has established its effectiveness.
On the editorial board, Dr Sabine Broeck (Bremen) came to the end of her term of service and was replaced by Professor Jacques Pothier of the University of Versailles.
At American Studies in Britain, BAAS thanked Dr Alison Kelly for her hard work during her term as Editor over the past two years. In September 2010, Dr Kaleem Ashraf (Sheffield) was appointed to the role. BAAS members will have noticed and appreciated the facelift Dr Ashraf has provided to the design of ASIB, and can look forward to new features soon to be instituted in the newsletter, including a regular interview slot with people of interest to the American Studies community.
At US Studies Online, BAAS thanked Dr Felicity Donohoe (Glasgow) for her work as Editor over the past two years and wished her luck as she began a Fellowship at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Michael Collins (Nottingham) kindly stepped in as interim editor to take charge of the conference issue and in January 2011 BAAS appointed Carina Spaulding (Manchester) as Editor. It was also agreed the Editor of US Studies Online should be accorded voting rights on the BAAS Publications Subcommittee and that BAAS should pay their travel expenses to subcom meetings and to the annual BAAS PG Conference.
At the Edinburgh University Press BAAS Paperback series, BAAS was pleased to see the publication of Kasia Boddy’s The American Short Story Since 1950 and Theresa Saxon’s American Theatre: History, Context, Form. Forthcoming titles include Rachael McLennan’s American Autobiography. The co-editor of the series, Carol Smith (Winchester) is also keen to remind BAAS members that the series editors welcome new proposals at all times, and are happy to advise at any point in the process.
For the BAAS website, MW thanked all involved in the launch of the much-improved site, especially Catherine Morley. The website now features regular news and welcome message updates from the Chair of BAAS, automated subscription forms, RSS feeds on the news and events pages; links to an expanded archive of American Studies in Britain and past notices on the website; and the usual range of news and hyperlinks detailing the activities of the Association and giving access to related intellectual resources.
At the British Records Relating to the Americas in Microform (BRRAM), several new titles have been released. The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Records relating to Canada (19 reels) and letters sent to, and received from, the United States (1 reel) have been completed. And 12 reels of USPG material relating to the West indies and Latin America has been microfilmed and sent to standing order customers. An online version of the Bolton-Whitman material has also been made available by Microform Academic Publishers, an extensive collection relating to the Bolton Whitman Fellowship – an appreciation society in Bolton, Lancashire dedicated to the study and appreciation of Whitman and his work.
MW concluded his report by thanking all involved with the Publications Subcommittee.
Will Kaufman began his report by mentioning how much he had enjoyed working with all colleagues on the Development Subcommittee. He noted that during his tenure of office as subcommittee Chair two issues had been predominant: Schools Liaison Activities and the funding of American Studies conferences. With regard to the first issue, BAAS has been hugely concerned with maintaining and strengthening contacts with secondary schools. The committee has benefited enormously from the energies of our outgoing Teachers’ Representative, Chris Bates, who developed a Schools Liaison Strategy which the new Teachers’ Representative will take up. In terms of the second issue, WK noted that applications to BAAS for small conference support has risen enormously (which has inevitably put pressure on funds) and over the coming year the Development Subcommittee would have to develop a strategy regarding which conferences to support. This has been especially contentious around the subject of BAAS’s support for other established associations and the issue continues to be one of debate for the Development Subcommittee.
WK concluded his report by expressing thanks to the US Embassy for the substantial grants they have provided year on year. Thanks to this support, in the past year BAAS has been able to contribute funds for the organisation of conferences such as the Nottingham Poetry series, the APG BAAS Colloquium, Congress to Campus, Studies in Youth, the American Genders Conference, UEA’s Tennessee Williams Conference, the annual conference of the British Group of Early American Historians, the Symbiosis Biennial Conference, the HOTCUS Annual Conference and the Afromodernisms conference.
All members of the Development Subcommittee were thanked for their contributions during the year.
Ian Bell began his report by thanking the anonymous judges who contributed to the successful business of the Awards subcommittee. He noted that the success of the Awards had meant that this work had grown exponentially in the past few years and the Executive Committee will continue to encourage members to volunteer their services in the adjudication of BAAS Awards.
IB noted that it had been an exceptionally busy year in terms of the numbers of awards processed. This year there have been 49 applications for STAs alone. This is double the number of STA applications received last year and testifies to the vitality of the Association, especially amongst our younger members.
IB thanked the Chair of BAAS for his hard work in securing the new GTAship at the University of Mississippi. He also noted that Dr Malcolm McLoughlin (UEA) will take over the management of the Arthur Miller Centre prizes. He thanked Catherine Morley and Robert Mason with their help in managing the Awards. Finally, IB thanked the US Embassy for their support, as well as the individual members of BAAS who donate funds to support the Short Term Travel Awards.
Libraries and Resources:
Dick Ellis reported that he had six items to discuss. Firstly, the reduction in support to HE will have an impact on library resources. BLARs are exploring strategies to develop resource sharing. He noted that this has been a fraught issue in the past but hoped that the growing importance of e-resources might make the issue less contentious. BLARs have drawn up a paper regarding the various forms this resource sharing might take (with an emphasis on e-resources) and will submit a revised plan to the BAAS Executive Committee shortly. The second major item of business has been the attempt to establish a list of librarians that have links to American Studies. He noted that this list has reduced sharply in the past years. When finalised this list will go online and BAAS members are asked to peruse it and make additions or suggestions. The ultimate plan to develop a dialogue amongst AS Librarians regarding resource sharing and allow scholars to negotiate with the providers of e-resources. DE’s third item of business concerned the BLARs journal, Resources in American Studies. In the most recent issue there is a report on interesting library acquisitions and the Editor, Dr Matthew Shaw (BL), is keen to acquire more information on this topic and also interested in receiving suggestions for future articles. DE’s fourth item was to thank the US Embassy, especially Sue Wedlake, for their support, without which the work of BLARs would be impossible. His fifth item was to thank the participants in the BLARs panel on Social Networking which attracted a good audience and his sixth item was a reminder of next year’s BLARs panel on intellectual property.
DE concluded his report by officially saying goodbye to Dr Kevin Halliwell who takes early retirement and by thanking all members of BLARs, especially Jayne Kelly (BLARs Secretary), Matthew Shaw, Phil Davies and colleagues at the British Library. He also mentioned the Discover American Studies CD which is now available to download from the LLAS website (and amenable to editing which means it can be tailored to specific universities). He noted that this may be a useful tool to help keep recruitment up (especially with the potential threat to 4-year degrees) and he urged BAAS members to exploit this resource before the site disappears.
Phil Davis reported that his main item of business concerned the EAAS Board meeting he had attended in Rome on the weekend of 8-10 April 2011. The meeting opened with the news that the incumbent president, Professor Hans Jürgen Grabbe, had resigned on health grounds. Discussions revolved around this issue for much of the meeting and on 10 April PD was elected president for one year. At the next conference in Izmir PD will be eligible for re-election to this position, should he wish to stand. The EAAS Executive Board members were reviewed at the Rome meeting: Philip Davies is now President, Meldan Tanrisal is Vice President, Gert Buelans will be the new Secretary and Stephen Matterson will remain the Treasurer.
PD reported that the dominating board business in Rome had been the selection of workshop panels, whittling 42 proposals down to 25 panels. He stressed that selection discussions rarely, if ever, turned to issues of nationality but focused on content, disciplinary issues and possible overlap. There were just six UK workshop proposals, four of which were accepted. In contrast, there were 13 French proposals, 7 of which were accepted. The EAAS Secretary has written to all those who submitted workshop proposals and a CFP will be issued shortly. There will be eight papers in each workshop, so plenty of opportunities for BAAS members to offer papers.
PD noted that one of the main items of business at the meeting was the consolidation of a European-wide web database of Americanists. The French EAAS Representative and EAAS webmaster, Jacques Pothier, is investigating the possibility of such a venture.
A volume of selected papers from the EAAS Oslo conference is in press and will appear soon. Also, the Conference volume for the Dublin conference will be published later this year.
The 2012 EAAS conference will be held in Izmir, Turkey, on 30 March – 2 April. The 2014 conference will be held in The Hague and the 2016 conference will take place in Constanța, Romania. Exact dates will be finalised soon. Also, the 2013 Executive Board meeting will be held in Moscow.
PD ended his report by noting that he had also asked to take on joint editorship of the EAAS journal, looking after History and the Social Sciences, a position which he accepted. He reminded the membership to consider the journal as a potential outlet for future publications.
Alan Rice informed the membership that the next meeting of the Collegium of African American Research (CAAR) would be held in Atlanta in 2013 (dates to be confirmed on http://www.caar-web.org/metamenu/home.html). He also reminded members of the conference field trip.
The AGM concluded at 5.00pm.Archive