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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 273


Meeting 273

British Association for American Studies

Minutes 273rd

Minutes of the 273rd Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the University of Birmingham on 18th Jan 2013 at 12pm.

1. Present: M Halliwell (Chair), S Currell (Vice Chair), J Gill (Secretary), S Ellis (Treasurer), T Saxon, I Bell, M Bibler, M Collins.

Apologies:       G Hughes, T Ruys Smith, B Bennett, M Bibler, N Bowles, J Ward, D Ellis, N Bowles.

In attendance: J Gill

Observer: P Williams

2.  Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

3.  Matters Arising


(a) 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)

  1. Announcements

i. Promotions and Grants

Professor Tony Badger (University of Cambridge) has been elected as Fellow of the Society of American Historians. Tony is the only British-based academic invited to be a fellow.

Professor Judie Newman (University of Nottingham) was awarded an OBE last summer recognition of her contribution to scholarship.

Professor Dick Ellis (University of Birmingham) has been elected President of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, commencing January 2013.

Dr Simon Topping (Plymouth University) has been appointed as Associate Head of the School of Humanities and Performing Arts.

Professor Martin Halliwell (University of Leicester) has been made a Guest Professor at Shanghai International Studies University.

Nicola Ramsay (Edinburgh University Press) has been promoted to Head of Editorial (Books) to start in February 2013.

Professor Tim Armstrong (Royal Holloway College, London) has received a grant of £31,204 from the Leverhulme Trust for a research project on Micromodernism.

ii. Institutions

UCL Institute of the Americas

MH attended the first Advisory Council for the new Institute of the Americas based at Gordon Square, University College London. The Council is chaired by Baroness Hooper and had representatives from American Studies (Philip Davies, Simon Newman, Sue Wedlake, MH) as well as Latin American and Canadian specialists. The MA and PhD programmes are already running and the Institute will be looking to extend its remit over the coming years. MH discussed with the Director, Professor Maxine Molyneux, the possibility of having a BAAS Fellowship each year at the Institute that we advertise with our BAAS awards. She is very keen and we will pursue this proposal, with the plan of having a standalone advert this spring for 2013-14, but then to include with the BAAS awards from autumn 2013. The details of the Fellowship need to be agreed, but it may focus exclusively on postdoctoral scholars.

Institute for the Study of the Americas

MH attended the ISA Council meeting in November at which future strategy of the Institute was discussed. The Institute will no longer run MA and PhD programmes, but it has an extensive set of fellowship and conference initiatives and will continue to represent North American as well as Central and South America and the Caribbean scholarship. The new Director of ISA, Professor Linda Newson, is very keen to work with BAAS, and has suggested that we develop the Institute’s online portal to gather data on North Americanists. This will be discussed under the Development Subcommittee’s business.

  1. Correspondence and Meetings

MH was invited on a panel to validate the new BA American Studies at Northumbria University in September (the first intake of students will be October 2013). MH noted the interesting employability aspects of this new programme.

MH sat on an Interdisciplinary Studies Forum for research councils on 29 October and attended an AHRC meeting to discuss the draft of the council’s new strategy document (19 October) and gave verbal feedback from BAAS’s perspective.

MH attended a roundtable on interdisciplinary research (with Sue Currell) at the Rothermere American Institute on 19 October. He had discussions with the History Commissioning Editor of Oxford University Press (US), Susan Ferber, and followed this up with a discussion at the American Studies Association conference in Puerto Rico in November. Susan will be based in London through the first half of this year and is very keen to work with the American Studies community in the UK. MH discussed a number of ideas with her, including a Publishers’ Panel at the Exeter BAAS Conference – which Nicky Ramsey from EUP has agreed to be on – as well as some other initiatives, which MH will discuss again with Susan Ferber at Exeter. Paul Williams will forward details of Harvard UP nominee to MH.

MH attended the very successful BAAS Postgraduate Conference at the University of Leicester on 24 November, along with George Lewis, Sue Currell and Jon Ward. There were 70+ delegates.

MH met Nicky Ramsey and Simon Newman in December to discuss the future of the BAAS Paperback Series. This will be taken under Publication Subcommittee business. One related proposal is that instead of the BAAS Series Editors being expected to attend the Publication Subcom meetings, there would be an annual meeting of the Publications Chair, Nicky Ramsey (or her successor) and the Series Editors, preferably at the BAAS Conference.

MH will attend the Westminster Forum on Open Access on 5 February.

MH has had some correspondence with Heads of American Studies about 2012 and 2013 recruitment patterns.

  1. AOB
  1. MH provided a brief 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. To be taken under the Development Subcommittee.
  1. Finally, MH was sorry to report the sad news of Professor Susan Manning, Grierson

Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, who died this week. Susan was a pioneer on the relationship between American and Scottish literature and on transatlantic literary cultures more generally.

5.  Secretary’s Business (JG reporting)

  1. JG arranged and reported back on the recent BAAS Members event (private tour of the “Hollywood Fashion” exhibition at the V&A).
  2. She has compiled a list of BAAS Awards Winners 1998-2010 and circulated the list for any information about the present whereabouts of those she hasn’t been able to trace. She will then send a fund-raising letter.
  3. She arranged for the redesign and, with Louise Cunningham, for the distribution of the BAAS Awards Posters.
  4. She has been liaising with Ian Bell and Louise Cunningham with regard to the administration of Awards, and with Graeme Thompson and Mike Collins re. the website.
  5. She has liaised with Richard Huish College (Taunton) and Gareth Hughes re arrangements for the March schools event in Cambridge.
  6. She has dealt with routine enquiries.
  7. She has been working with Sinead Moynihan and Paul Williams on the arrangements for the BAAS 2013 Conference.
  8. She has drafted the notices for the AGM and for the forthcoming elections. These will be posted to membership via the mailing list, website and ASIB.

6.  Treasurer’s Business (SE reporting)

  1. Accounts

The balance of accounts as at 16 Jan 2013 is as follows:

Current:  £2478.96

Saver:  £33544.18

This compares with the following figures for January 2012:

Current: £3291.99

Saver: £47078.29

And for January 2011:

Current: £9454.27

Saver;  46685.17

Donations (relating to the Hollywood Costume exhibition: £15)

SE noted that the drop in funds may partly be an issue of timing e.g. money paid out to certain creditors may not be billed at the same time in each year.

  1. Membership

As of January 2013:

321 members (105 PG). This is a significant increase on the figures recorded at the last Exec (Sept 2012) of: 255 (74 PG). The rise may in part be due to the extensive circulation of the new membership leaflet (e.g. at conferences co-funded by BAAS), in part by a clarification of the requirement for membership for most BAAS (excluding Eccles Centre) awards and in part by the work of current and recent PG reps / conference organizers (almost 50% – 31 – of the 66 new members are PGs). There has been an increase of around 10 in the number of current members updating obsolete standing orders.

  1. Expenses

SE will maintain a tight rein on the budget. SE observed that she and the Exec have already reduced Development expenses, reduced Exec and Sub-Com expenses, are monitoring Awards expenses, and are pursuing other Fund-raising and Membership initiatives. JG to check commitment to number of Founders’ Awards in the Constitution. Membership drive and donations drive to continue.

JG / IFAB proposed reducing the number of individual Awards posters designed, printed and distributed next year from 6 to 1 or 2. MH proposed that for all Awards other than Eccles, applicants should be members (JG to check with Charity Commission).

  1. Miscellaneous

SE has completed Charity Commission returns, Gift Aid paperwork, and Embassy Awards application.

  1. 7. Development Subcommittee (SC reporting)
  1. SC reminded members that the conference funding process (i.e. American Studies conferences organised by groups and institutions with financial support from BAAS under the auspices of the Development Sub-Com) which was previously suspended during 2012 in order to maintain control of expenditure (see BAAS 272) can now be re-opened. The application form can now be re-posted to the BAAS website. There will be a limit of a possible 2 awards per meeting (up to £300 per award). SC suggested checking always on budget issues before agreeing to make awards. SC will advise MC of details and closing dates.  MC to deal with posting the form to the web. The Development Sub-Com, in liaison with the Treasurer, will keep this under careful review. The Exec approved this proposal.
  1. Expert Database: the ISA has a “Portal” for researchers in Latin American / Caribbean fields and have invited BAAS to add information to this database.

See: ISA Portal  (MH)

This would be administered by ISA. BAAS would need to link to this via our own Website; some work might be needed in order to re-title and re-describe the portal and to add a logo / tab to the BAAS Website in order to make the link to BAAS as clear as possible. The Exec agreed that it would also be necessary to ensure that BAAS members contributed and updated their details. MH will talk to Dir of Institute (cc MJC) with a view to moving forward from April 2013. MJC first to check out the ISA portal and then discuss with MH.

  1. c. Schools: GH sent report along with his apologies. There are two schools events forthcoming – one in Leeds (8th March) and one in Cambridge (19th March). The United States Embassy is kindly funding speakers to the tune of £800. MH and SC are speaking at both to promote BAAS and will also flag up the Barringer and Ambassadors’ Awards. The Principal Examiner for Politics on the AQA exam board has been in discussion with GH and has offered to speak at the Leeds schools’ event on how to improve exam performance. Unfortunately, the day’s speakers have already been booked but he is happy to do a short 10 minute slot and sit on the QTime panel. GH hopes to involve him in future events of this kind.  

GH has received a letter of thanks from a school at which Nigel Bowles kindly spoke about the American political system.

GH has been in initial correspondence with a Development Officer from Education Scotland about their revised qualifications.

GH raised concerns about schools being unable to complete the membership process via the website. MC and RM to check.

GH and GL will both speak at the BAAS / Rosa Parks event taking place on 6th Feb at University of Leicester. 460 school children are attending. BBC World Service are making an hour-long programme, as are BBC Radio Leicester. There will be a small cost to BAAS (e.g. train fares for speakers); GL will liaise with SC and SE.

  1. PG Conference: JW sent report along with his apologies [report was subsequently circulated with Development Sub-Com minutes]. Discussion of plans for BAAS/IAAS PG Conference in November or December 2013. SC will liaise with JW in order to make a decision prior to the April meeting about (i) whether this is to be a joint event; (ii) whether it’s one day or two in order to open up bids in Feb and March. SC can proceed via Chair’s Action in order to firm up bids in sufficient time to advertise by April BAAS Conference. JG to check CM’s files for paperwork relating to the bid process for PG Conferences and forward to SC. MH recommends continuing with format of one keynote per one-day conference.
  1. IMPACT BROCHURE: MH recirculated the IMPACT brochure and noted the need to source  additional images. MH is awaiting a quote from Clear & Creative and / or has other design options to pursue. SC suggested adding information about Fulbright’s decision to develop a postdoctoral / Early Career Fellowship as a direct consequence of Richard Martin’s BAAS Report.
  1. Fund-Raising: SC suggested a fund-raising book sale at future BAAS Conferences wherein the Exec and other members would donate books for sale at £10 / £5. JG / PW to discuss for Exeter (bearing in mind that other publishers have already agreed to pay for stalls in order to promote and sell their own full-price books).
  1. 8. Postgraduate Business (JW submitted a written report)

Written report was circulated with Sub-Com minutes and covered the following:

  1. a. the bid for the BAAS PG conference (of which there are two – one from UEA and one from Nottingham – circulated to the sub com via email after the meeting),
  2. b. the mechanics of the BAAS/IAAS joint PG conference:  the conference would be held in Dec 2013 – Kate Kirwan approved the December timeslot. It would be possible to defer the UEA conference to 2014, in which case we need to check is that Nottingham would be comfortable with hosting the joint conference. The IAAS/BAASPG would be the conference that would be merged, and a joint conference should be spread over two days. The new PG reps for IAAS will be elected in April, so we would need to decide on the more fundamental parameters of the conference. SC to contact conference organizers to check whether these arrangements are possible.
  3. c. a request for funding for a one-day conference being jointly hosted by ISA and LSE Ideas. Circulated separately after the meeting.
  1. 9. Publications Subcommittee (GL reporting)
  1. BRRAM

Nothing to report

  1. Edinburgh University Press (EUP)

Four members of the current JAS Editorial Board come to the end of their first terms this year. All were agreed that they should each be approached to stand for another term: Sue Currell, Brian Ward, Wai Chee Dimmock, Giles Scott Smith.

  1. Journal of American Studies (JAS)

Next issue will include a revised version of Joy Porter’s keynote lecture from the Manchester BAAS Conference; Anders Stephanson’s Exeter keynote will follow. The following issue will be a special issue on Art Across Borders. The time from submission to publication is now c. 12 months. John Horne is stepping down as Asst. Editor but a new Asst. Editor (Zalfa Feghali) is now in place. The Sub-com wished to minute their thanks for the hard work that JH put in. The Journal of American Studies website now includes 4 – 5000 word thought pieces.

OPEN ACCESS: The Sub-Com discussed a number of recent position papers produced by journal editors and Learned Societies. None were in favour of the haste with which Government is pursuing Open Access, and had real concerns over the only two models under discussion (“Gold” or “Green”). Where “Green” has been reluctantly preferred, it is with a longer embargo period than Government plans, i.e. 36 months in the case of the editors of a collection of UK-based History Journals. IB noted concerns about the ways in which Universities may use Open Access changes as a way of increasing research selectivity. GL noted the Royal Historical Society’s concerns  about Open Access especially in relation to the REF 2020 and also pointed to widespread concerns from learned societies. GL proposed that BAAS should add its voice to these debates. MH noted upcoming meeting of A-HUG. He further noted English Association and CCUE concerns and forthcoming statement. MH suggested that BAAS adds its name to the A-HUG document.

  1. American Studies in Britain (ASIB)

Nothing to report. 

  1. US Studies Online

Nothing to report.

  1. Website (MJC reporting)

Nothing to report.

(g)              BAAS Mailbase

Nothing to report

(h)  AOB

(i)         GL proposed establishing the post of Communications Officer. SC noted that a similar

suggestion had been discussed at the Development Sub-Com i.e. a publicity / information post which SC thought might best be situated in Publications. MH noted that there are two ways forward either (a) nominating an ordinary member of the exec into the post, (b) changing the constitution. To be considered again at the April Exec.

10. Conference Subcommittee (TRS reporting)

Birmingham (2014): PGW reported on buildings, accommodation, the keynote lecture theatre etc. Sara Wood is considering a mixture of on-campus and hotel accommodation. The Exec raised concerns about the proposal to provide only one night’s dinner (Sat banquet) and would strongly prefer catered meal on Thursday evening even if only a buffet with reception.

Exeter (2013): PGW noted that we would like to post programme to web asap. PGW asked for volunteer Chairs.

Northumbria (2015): Reported to be on track. Joe Street should join June BAAS Sub-Com (JG to issue invitation). Northumbria will be a 3-day conference.

The possibility of BAAS moving to a two-day conference model in future will be discussed under AOB at the April AGM.

For 2017; Sussex or Leeds were raised as possible venues? Formal applications/bids would be needed by Jan 2014. SC raised problem of clash of dates with semesterised universities such as Sussex. These and various other options will be discussed in June.

11. Awards Subcommittee (IB reporting)

GTAs: JG, MB, IFAB interviewed for GTA scheme and appointed two excellent candidates; Linsey Ford (Glasgow) to go to New Hampshire; Robin Posniak (Hull) to go to Wyoming. MB to confirm details with the applicants. JG to invite them to the Exeter conference and awards dinner.

Barringer Fellowship = Tim Watts has been awarded the Barringer Fellowship. IB will write to him.

There was some further discussion about the requirement for membership of BAAS to become eligible for BAAS’s awards (excl. Eccles Centre). The Exec agreed that this should be mandatory in future.

GL noted that some of the books submitted for BAAS Book Prize ought to have been submitted to Arthur Miller (First Book) Prize; GL to clarify with Geoff Plank (UEA) whether books have already been submitted to both. GL will also discuss with him the possibility of moving the Arthur Miller deadline slightly earlier in future.

PG Essay Prize / Ambassadors’ Award – JG to extend deadline to 14th Feb. In future, deadline for these prizes will be 31st Jan.

12. Libraries and Resources Committee

The Exec had received notice from DE that he intends to step down from his role as Chair of BLARS in April. SC will liaise with DE to ascertain his and the rest of BLARS’s thoughts about future developments and will report back in April. JG to provide details of BLARS secretary to SC.

13. EAAS (TS reporting) 

The deadline is 15th March 2013 for workshop panels for the EAAS Conference in The Hague, April 3 – 6 2014. The chair and co-chair of any such panels have to be from separate Associations. The conference theme is: America – Justice, Conflict, War. Travel grants are available for PG students. TS will forward info for circulation on the mailing list and website.

14. UKCASA / Academy of Social Sciences

JG will circulate reports from BB (UKCASA) and NB (Academy Soc Sci). MH suggested UKCASA as another possible route for BAAS in terms of Open Access.

15. Any Other Business

Fund-raising / TS will run Great North Run on behalf of BAAS and will set up and circulate details of a “Just-giving” sponsorship page.

16. Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies will be held at the University of Exeter on the morning of Thurs 18th April 2013.

The following meeting will take place in June / July 2013 venue TBC and thereafter in Sept 2013 venue TBC. JG reminded the Exec to book travel in advance in order to take advantage of cheaper fares.

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