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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 271


Meeting 271

British Association for American Studies

Minutes 271st

Minutes of the 271st Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Leicester on 8th June 2012 at 1pm.

1. Present: M Halliwell (Chair), S Currell (Vice Chair), J Gill (Secretary), S Ellis (Treasurer), G Lewis, M Collins, J Ward, R McLennan, B Bennett, M Bibler, I Bell, N Bowles

Apologies:    T Ruys Smith, C Bernier, S Lucas, Theresa Saxon, G Hughes, R Ellis

In attendance: J Gill

2.  Minutes of the Previous Meeting and of AGM

These were accepted as true records and will now go on the website.

3.  Matters Arising


  1. Action List Review

The Secretary asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties. All Action List duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.

4.  Chair’s Business (MH reporting)

a. Announcements

i. BAAS Exec Announcements

Sue Currell moves to Chair of BAAS Development Sub-Com taking over from John Fagg and has also been elected by the Exec to the position of BAAS Vice-Chair. Bridget Bennett will represent BAAS on UKCASA. Nigel Bowles will represent BAAS on the Academy of Social Sciences. Michael Bibler joins Awards Sub-Com with a particular brief for the GTA scheme, as does Rachael McLennan.  Michael Collins will carry on with the website and will train Jo Gill and Michael Bibler to undertake routine updates. MH expressed thanks to all.

ii. Promotions and Grants

Dr Daniel Kane has been appointed to a Readership in English and American Literature at Sussex University

Dr Michael Bibler and Dr Randall Stevens have been appointed to Readerships in American Studies at Northumbria University

Dr Andrew Johnstone (Leicester) has been awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for the project ‘Internationalism, Ideology, and the debate over US entry into World War II, 1937-41’ worth £32,893.

Professor Matthew Jones (Nottingham) has been awarded an AHRC Fellowship entitled ‘”Supreme National Interests”: The Official History of Britain’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent and the Chevaline Programme, 1962-1982’ worth £112,000

Dr Stephanie Lewthwaite (Nottingham) has been awarded an AHRC Fellowship for a project entitled ‘Remaking Modernism: Cross-Cultural Encounters in Hispano Art, 1930-1960’, worth £48,000

iii. Institutions

Institute of the Americas / Institute of the Study of the Americas

MH reminded colleagues of a note in his previous report indicating that staff from the current Institute of the Study of the Americas (ISA) at the School of Advanced Studies, University of London will be moving to form a slightly renamed Institute of the Americas at University College London in July 2012. It is not clear whether the current ISA will continue to feature US Studies, despite a new part-time Chair, Professor Linda Newson, a specialist in colonial Latin America from King’s being appointed as the new ISA director.

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

In April MH wrote (with input from JG and SC) in support of the continuation of American Studies at the University of Canterbury. This is currently the only stand-alone American Studies programme in New Zealand and is under threat from restructuring, compounded by the recent earthquakes in Canterbury and the more general threat of downsizing humanities in favour of STEM subjects from New Zealand’s Minister for Tertiary Education.

  1. Invitations

MH has been elected to the International American Studies Council, succeeding Professor Douglas Tallack in the capacity of the British representative on the Council.

MH attended a meeting at the British Academy on 2 May, entitled ‘How will the government’s HE reforms affect the humanities & social sciences?’. A report of the event is available on the University Council for Modern Languages website: MH thanked the British Academy Chair, Nigel Vincent, for the joint position statement with the UCML entitled ‘Valuing the Year Abroad’ on the importance of the undergraduate study abroad opportunities. The meeting was soon followed by an announcement by HEFCE that year abroad fees should be limited to 15% of the maximum yearly fee: see,72835,en.html 

  1. Correspondence and Meetings

MH has sent condolences and BAAS’s offer of support to Dr Steve Hewitt, Chair of the British Association for Canadian Studies, which has had its core funding removed by the Canadian High Commission.

The Chair has had further correspondence with Dr Philip McGowan, Chair of the Irish Association for American Studies, about Queen’s Belfast hosting the 2016 BAAS Conference.

John Fagg and MH have continued correspondence with the BAAS Intern Richard Martin to complete the ‘BAAS American Studies, 2000-2010’ Project and will now distribute the final report and arrange for its presence on the website in PDF form in July. MH will also make 120 properly printed versions of this to send to Heads of Department, Vice Chancellors and other stakeholders. MH/JG to write to Richard Martin to thank him for his work.

  1. AOB

The following two items refer to matters arising in the Chair’s two previous reports and were opened to discussion:

i. Providing reciprocal bursaries for the BAAS PG or Early Career Scholar to attend the IAAS main and postgraduate conference each year, as discussed in January.

ii. An update on the ‘American Studies in Britain’ Impact brochure to be launched at the 2013 conference showcasing range of research projects from across the BAAS community with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity, impact case studies, and knowledge exchange.

iii. We also need a volunteer to represent BAAS at the next AHRC Subject Association meeting in London on 20 June. SC agreed to attend.

5.  Secretary’s Business (JG reporting)

JG reported that she has arranged the printing of new membership leaflets and has distributed copies for inclusion in conference packs at 4 events supported by BAAS. She has also arranged for reprinting and redistribution of Awards certificates with wrong dates from last conference.

She has made provisional arrangements for Richard Huish College, Taunton, to host one of the Spring 2013 Schools’ Events.

She has updated trustees’ details with the Charity Commission.

JG dealt with routine correspondence and liaised with Graeme Thompson and MC with regard to mailing list and website updates.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (SE reporting)

SE reported that there have been some delays at the Bank’s end in setting up online banking etc hence figures are provisional for this report.

  1. Membership

Fully paid-up: 311 members (106 PGs) / No changes to Standing Orders: 413 (127 PGs).

Slightly down on a year ago i.e. Fully paid (June 2011): 321 (115 PGs) / No changes to S/O: 441 (129 PG).

SE will be continuing to chase members who haven’t updated S/Os. SE and Awards will keep an eye on members / eligibility.

  1. Charity Commission

Nothing to report.

  1. Other

SE will liaise with the US Embassy in securing funding for next year’s Ambassador’s Awards.

SE followed up the previous treasurer’s advice about the importance of controlling costs, particularly with respect (1) to Exec members own expenses incurred in attending meetings, etc, and (2) to the expenditure of the Development Sub-Com on conferences and other applications. The Exec discussed the possibility of the Development Sub-Com devising clear criteria for eligibility for conference / event funding. As regards, for example, the BLARS Sub-Com (which meets outside the main Exec), the Exec discussed either setting an annual budget or asking them to make a case for the ongoing need to meet 3 times a year.

SE raised question of how we might try to raise more funds e.g. for travel awards. JG will endeavour to identify a list of previous recipients over 10 / 15 years to whom we might write in order to invite donations to support future work to the benefit of the next generation of Americanists. SE and MJC are working with Clear & Creative to set up a PayPal button on the website. Association for American Historians sends an annual e-mail asking for Donations. MJC suggested liaising with particular libraries / institutions for joint awards. SE/JG/RM to liaise over the summer.

  1. 7. Development Subcommittee (SC reporting)
  1. Conference Funding

SC noted that it was clear that greater regulation of the allocation of conference support funds was needed (this was raised as a concern in the Sept. 2011 minutes and the 2012 AGM report) and was obviously an ongoing issue that needed resolution.

After discussion on ways to make the budget for conference funding more sustainable the committee agreed to request the exec to approve a restricted criteria where all events needed to show:

  • How they would use the funds to support pg attendance, so that funding will normally come in the form of pg support (or schools/student).
  • In the case of repeat applications we would agree to fund BAAS pg members to attend, so the recipients of the pg stipends would have to be BAAS pg members.
  • Clearly, if there are excess funds, we can revisit this and discuss with the exec committee if there needs to be an exception made to this criteria.
  • All conference organisers should also show more fully how they will promote BAAS at their conference.
  • All successful applicants will be sent the new BAAS leaflet to distribute as well as redesigned logo for posters well in advance of event.
  • All funds should be dependant on receiving a final report for possible publication in ASIB – final reports should be sent with receipts/claims.

SC will redraft the conference application form to clarify that BAAS will prioritise funding for postgraduate attendance and will request plans for promotion of BAAS at the event. She will also add a membership box – to ensure that applicants check their membership status. SE will send SC the current membership list so that it can be cross-checked against applications received.

As and when the budget is spent, it will be necessary to decline subsequent applications and / or to invite candidates to reapply. This will free up Development Sub-Com time for strategy, fund-raising etc. Guiding principle will be: how will money be used by applicants for the furtherance of the interests of BAAS members and the organisation’s aims?

EAAS: SC has not yet received reports from this year’s attendees.

  1. Schools Liaison (GH submitted a written report)

i. Conferences for 2013

North:  Grammar School at Leeds have offered a few dates: March 8th looks the best for the schools in the area after liaison with those schools who attended the Pocklington event. GH has asked the school to hold that open pending a firm decision.

South:  Richard Huish College in Taunton:  initial discussion stage.  Ideally would be within a week of the North one to make planning easier.  This was a contact through Jo Gill.  The location would be great but we have struck a difficulty: the college may have a problem with hosting on any day but a Saturday.  In both cases, GH advised that we need to confirm dates, themes, and arrangements by the end of July latest.

Several other schools have also offered facilities or expressed an interest in being involved. The BAAS discussed the need to ensure that outreach / schools work such as this is as far-reaching and inclusive as possible. JG will circulate information  re Robert Peston’s “Speakers for Schools” project and of the Sutton Trust / Fulbright Access Project.

GH has asked two Heads of English to draw up what an ‘ideal’ English themed conference would look like for them.  The difficulty in the subject is the variety of books studied across the secondary sector which tends to hamper conferences for the subject.  However, there may be common themes at GCSE level. GH will report back on this ASAP.

GH recommends the retention of the politics theme for the north due to the established school network.  GSAL offered their facilities based upon this premise as did Richard Huish. GH thus recommends running two politics conferences in 2013, gathering the feedback from the two English reports then gauging interest from the schools who sign up for the politics conferences as to whether they would also be interested in attending an English conference at some point in the future.  If interest is there, then BAAS could introduce this in 2014.

History themed conferences: the market is pretty saturated on this front across the country.  Conferences are already held on civil rights and/or the cold war (the two most obvious USA A-Level topics) at London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.  Therefore, GH would recommend no movement into this market currently.

ii. Requests for speakers through the website.

GH raised the question of BAAS’s role in offering speakers through the website. JG will liaise with GH and Development Sub-Com to update the list held by BAAS.

iii. Future plans

GH’s written report raised a number of other suggestions each of which will be held over for discussion in his presence at the next Exec. Are there other ways in which BAAS could be involved further in school work/links?  For example, A Level focused periodicals (extremely popular – largely dominated by the Pearson/Edexcel group currently) and perhaps available online via the website (one or two editions per year)? More online presence (twitter/Facebook)?

  1. 8. Postgraduate Business (JW reporting)

Jon Ward reported on the progress of the organization of the PG conference and queries re budget forthcoming from Robert Jones. Posters have been designed and the CFP has been circulated. There are plans afoot for a Jan 2014 IAAS / BAAS joint PG Conference. This would be a 2-day joint conference instead of the Nov 2013 BAAS PG Conference

  1. 9. Publications Subcommittee (GL reporting)

GL reported on the question of whether American Studies Today should be linked to via the BAAS Website but the Subcom took the view that it is primarily an organ of the Liverpool John Moores Centre and therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to link to it formally.

a.   BRRAM

b.   Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

Nothing to report.

c. Journal of American Studies (JAS)

Joyce Chaplin is in the process of preparing her Manchester keynote for publication. There is currently 15 month gap between acceptance and publication (a slight rise probably due to REF). Questions were raised about the JAS (and CUP’s) strategy with respect to Open Access especially in the light of recent national and international debates in this area. GL to write to Martine Walsh to suggest putting Open Access on the agenda for the next JAS board meeting. BB raised issue of intellectual copyright.

d. American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

Kalim has been to an Open Access training event.

e. US Studies Online

Spring issue is online. Call to follow on mail base for potential editors for US Studies Online.

f.  Website (MJC reporting)

MJC has suggested that we sign up for Google Analytics in order to trace traffic. Sub-com agreed to proceed.

g.  BAAS Mailbase

Nothing to report.

10. Conference Subcommittee (IFAB reporting in TR-S’s absence)

The Sub-Com expressed its thanks to Ian Scott and the Manchester organising team and looks forward to receiving his written report.

Future conferences are as follows: Exeter (2013); Birmingham (2014); Northumbria (2015). Queens University, Belfast and the Irish Association for American Studies have expressed an interest in hosting the 2016 conference, and the University of Plymouth are provisionally interested in 2020. Further expressions of interest and / or formal proposals are invited as appropriate.

GL raised the possibility of rethinking elements of the conference particularly in respect of costs and timings. Would it be possible, in due course, to move to a 2-day / 2-night event i.e. one that opened on a Thursday morning / lunchtime with panels commencing that afternoon, and that ran through all day Friday and Saturday to a Saturday late pm close? This might be more attractive in terms of the cost and the time for academic staff with increasing workloads and decreasing research allowances? On the other hand, this might restrict the number of papers allowable and would make it difficult to squeeze in keynotes, AGM and Awards evening? To be discussed again in due course. BB suggested holding a PG / Early Career Training Event at some earlier point in the year; this would be a developmental opportunity rather than a separate conference.

MB suggested providing a “comments” box at the next conference (Exeter) inviting suggestions about the future direction of the conferences. In the meantime, Exec members are invited to send any suggestions to TR-S. The matter will be revisited at the next sub-com.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

IFAB thanked Louise Cunningham, JG and SE for their help in overseeing the 2011-12 Awards process. He noted success and popularity of Awards scheme and summarised various plans for improving timings and publicity for next year viz. more clearly signalling distinctiveness of Ambassadors’ Awards and rationalising some of the different deadlines. JG will send yellow publicity overview to the BAAS PG Conference.

12. Libraries and Resources Committee (DE)

Nothing to report.

13. EAAS (TS submitted a written report)

TS reported that the next EAAS Conference is in 2014 in The Hague. More details to follow.

14. UKCASA / Academy of Social Sciences (BB and NB)

Nothing to report (meetings pending).

15. Any Other Business

All Exec to check website over the summer and advise MJC of corrections / updates.

16. Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies will be held at the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford on Sat 22nd Sept at 10 am. (TBC) JG to liaise with Sara Wood re Birmingham dates (Jan).

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