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

British Association for American Studies


Meeting 279


Meeting 279

British Association for American Studies

Minutes 279th

Minutes of the 279th Meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the Institute of the Americas (UCL), Wednesday 9 July 2014 at 1.00pm.

1. Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Bridget Bennett (Vice Chair), Theresa Saxon (Treasurer), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Zalfa Feghali, Katie McGettigan, Rachael Alexander, Jo Gill, Cara Rodway, Nick Witham, Bevan Sewell, Joe Street, Uta Balbier, Sinéad Moynihan, Celeste-Marie Bernier.

Apologies: Rachael McLennan, Doug Haynes, Scott Lucas, Martin Halliwell.

In attendance: Jenny Terry

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

3. Matters Arising


(a) Review of Action List

Sue Currell has been liaising with Louise Cunningham at Keele who is prepared to perform part-time administrative work on behalf of BAAS. Sue will be co-ordinating tasks suitable for Louise to take on and organising payment. ACTION: SC

All other action list duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.

4. Chair’s Business

(a) Sue Currell welcomed the new executive members and thanked them for their commitment and service to BAAS. Special thanks were offered to Theresa Saxon for being willing to step into the role of Treasurer.

The co-option onto the executive of Theresa Saxon, Jo Gill and Cara Rodway was formally agreed. The matter of co-opted members will need to be revisited in April 2015.

(b) Thanks were noted to Iwan Morgan for his assistance with the meeting venue.

(c) Sue Currell reported

i. Correspondence

• An email has been received from Susan Worrall at Birmingham about the BAAS archive and deposit policy. Sue will follow up. ACTION: SC

• BAAS has received a request for funding in support of a proposed £2,500 memorial for British citizens who took part in the American Civil War. One memorial is to be located in Liverpool and the other in the Museum of the Civil War Soldier at Pamplin Park VA. Details available: There is a need to counter a misperception of BAAS as a ready funding source. Sue will follow up with a reply. ACTION: SC

• Following the annual conference in Birmingham, a warm note of thanks was received from Thomas Leary, Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy: It was good to see you in Birmingham. I had a very nice time. I know the conference is about the scholarship for most, but it’s more about the people for me. You and your colleagues are great. All the best, Tom.

• Letters of thanks have been sent to Sara Woods and the VC at Birmingham congratulating them on the conference.

• A letter was also sent to the Head of English Studies at Durham congratulating on Jenny Terry’s election to Secretary.

• Over this period, there have been lots of conference calls and emails regarding the new Partnership Agreement with CUP (discussed in detail later in the meeting).

ii. Activities and Meetings

• On Friday 23 May 2014 Sue attended the Learned Societies and Subject Associations Network at the British Academy. A more detailed account will follow but she reported an interesting and very useful talk by Keith Lawrey, a barrister/lawyer who advised on governance issues, the charity commission, VAT legislation, charity law and other legal matters for Learned Societies. Sue asked various questions about changes to standing orders/articles, online voting, trustee liability and confidentiality clauses in contracts (for example, with publishers). Other sessions later in the day were on Open Access, Early Careers, BIS’s Science and Innovation strategy, AHRC strategy updates and schemes, strategic themes, changes in PhD funding etc. Lawrey is a good point of contact if we have further questions. Sue might in future develop a webpage with up to date information.

• 25 May 2014: Michael Gove announced the removal of American texts from the GCSE curriculum. The new list of requirements pertaining to literature ‘from the British Isles’ is more restrictive. The exam boards – and indeed individual schools – are free to add any extra books they see fit, but the new rules have left them very little room for any twentieth-century writing from outside of Britain. Sue did not write to Gove on behalf of BAAS but Martin Halliwell had sent a letter to the NATE. Sue has added a list of nineteenth-century American texts to the website (under ‘Schools’) for public consultation. Additions to this list would be welcome.

• On Friday 20 June 2014 Sue attended a AHUG meeting (now AHA, the Arts and Humanities Alliance). A few Royal Historical Society agenda items of note:
1. HEFCE metrics consultation for REF Open Access
2. OA and Institutional practices regarding PhD Dissertations
3. ‘Research Leadership’ as a Research Council theme
4. Masters recruitment
5. Future of AHUG and its renaming

• 3 July 2014 Sue met with Katie McGettigan at the British Library about developing the BAAS website.

• 3 July 2014 a small BAAS delegation attended the Independence Day celebrations at the Ambassador’s mansion, an excellent event.

iii. Announcements

Promotions, Prizes and Grants: Achievements of note to BAAS members

• Prof. Martin Halliwell has been elected as the Chair of the English Association.
• Prof. Simon Newman at Glasgow University has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant of £300,000 for a study of ‘Runaway Slaves in Britain: Bondage, Freedom and Race in the Eighteenth Century.’
• Dr. Katie McGettigan has been awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship at Nottingham for work titled ‘Transatlantic Nationalism: The Invention of American Literature in Britain, 1820-1860.’
• Dr. Michael Cullinane at Northumbria University has been awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for the project ‘Memorial Communities and Presidential Legacy: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt.’
• Dr. Zoe Colley at Dundee University has been awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for the project ‘Universities of the Revolution: Black Nationalism and the Prison from the Nation of Islam to the Black Panther Party.’
• Dr. Nick Witham has been awarded a Fulbright American Studies Scholarship for a visit to NYU this summer and an AHRC International Placement Scheme Fellowship to go to the Library of Congress, both furthering research on ‘Popular American History Writing during the Cold War.’


• It was announced that Dr. Jonathan Bell, currently of Reading University, is to be the next director of the UCL Institute of the Americas in succession to Prof. Maxine Molyneux. He takes up post on 1 September 2014 and will be appointed as both Director of UCL-IA and Professor. Sue will write to Jonathan. It is hoped that the BAAS executive can use the Institute’s space again in the future.
• The recent threatened closure of the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study had prompted widespread protest and has been put on hold. The situation recalls BAAS’s former campaign to prevent the closure of the ISA.

5. Secretary’s Business

(a) A phased handover from Jo Gill to Jenny Terry is in process. They have been dealing with enquiries and liaising with the Chair and Treasurer.

(b) As Jenny Terry will be at the Huntington Library in California from September to December 2014, alternative arrangements will be necessary for the next Executive Meeting. It was agreed that Sue Currell will organise the agenda and meeting on 15 November 2014 at the University of Sussex and that Jo Gill will take minutes.

(c) In January 2015 the Conferences Sub-committee will meet in Belfast. A date for this will need to be arranged with Philip McGowan. ACTION: SM

6. Treasurer’s Business (TS reporting)

(a) Bank Accounts (as at 07/07/2014)

General Deposit: £30,277.82

Current: £9,109.89

Dollar Account: $3375.42

Theresa Saxon suggested that the separate dollar account is now less needed than before as internet banking has replaced many of its functions. The closure of the account could be revisited when exchange rates are more favourable.

(b) Membership Figures

These were unavailable at this time in the absence of Rachael McLennan (Membership Secretary). The possibility of these being updated and monitored by an administrative assistant in the future was discussed. Katie McGettigan suggested that new database software linked to the website could potentially assist too, with members updating their own details. ACTION: SC with Louise Cunningham

The Birmingham conference organisers had asked for membership ID numbers as delegates registered for the conference. Although this ensured membership among those attending, it had resulted in a lot of enquiries. If an administrator held the membership database he or she could deal with such enquiries about numbers.

(c) The handover from Sylvia Ellis to Theresa Saxon is underway. Because of the need for multiple signatures the process takes some time; although Theresa does not yet have a chequebook she is now able to complete bank transfers and pay bills online.

7. Development Subcommittee (ZF reporting)

(a) Academy of Social Sciences Subscription

Retaining the status quo (of our non-subscription) seems the wisest course for now, although this could be revisited in the future.

(b) Online elections:

The possibility of online elections in the future was being looked into as part of a range of improvements to our web capability (see (d) below). A membership login facility would be a step towards this, although standalone online voting systems (e.g. ‘ballot-bin’) were also a possibility. Sue Currell noted that any such change of practice would also require a change to the BAAS constitution.

(c) The Development Committee had discussed the issue of reinstating awards to support conference organisation. If BAAS were to be in a financial position to do this in the future, a proposal involving clearer guidelines on the award and a fixed deadline had been agreed. It was decided to revisit this at the next meeting in November with input from the Treasurer on the budget at that time. Sue Currell noted that this kind of support is a priority; in the meantime, executive members are happy to offer guidance and advice on conference organisation and other sources of funding.

(d) It was agreed that the BAAS weekly digest via the emailing list was working well. Thanks were offered to Katie McGettigan for her efforts with this and also to Michelle Green and Ben Offiler for all their work on the USSO site. It was suggested that an ‘autoreply’ acknowledging receipt would be helpful for those submitting items to be included in the digest. ACTION: KM

Katie reported on her ongoing consultation with ‘Clear and Creative’ (the current host of the main BAAS website). There are opportunities to reconsider the BAAS image and brand identity as well as enhance the web functions. It was agreed the website could do more to highlight American Studies research and activities; it could foreground the Journal of American Studies further. There was a suggestion that adverts from publishers might be a way to generate revenue. Sue, Katie and Simon Gregory (from ‘Clear and Creative’) will set up a meeting to discuss what we want and costs.

The USSO and BAAS sites are currently on separate hosts. It was agreed that integration would be desirable and modest costs for this could be met as there would be long term savings.

(e) Schools: Cara Rodway reported on the handover from Gareth Hughes and planned events with schools in the coming year. She would like to run a schools conference co-sponsored by BAAS and the Eccles Centre in the future. There are plans for an A-Level History event in Manchester and an A-Level Politics event, possibly in Bradford.

There are opportunities for capturing and sharing resources that we could develop. For example, videoing presentations at future conferences or pooling outreach materials that BAAS members might already have.

8. Postgraduate Business (RA reporting)

(a) The next Postgraduate Conference will take place at the University of Sussex on 15 November 2014: ‘Protest: Resistance and Dissent in America’. Joe Street is giving one of the keynotes. There will also be a career development workshop. The organisers are considering extending the CFP deadline to the end of September.

9. Publications Subcommittee (BB reporting)

(a) BRRAM:
Ken Morgan’s previously-circulated report had been discussed. The work of BRRAM in recording materials continues well, including negotiations with the Ayrshire Archives. The sub-committee had also discussed how better to integrate BRRAM, ASIB and EUP into the website in the future. Ken agreed to make sure the BRRAM area of the website was up to date and to contact ASIB with a short report for possible inclusion in the next issue.

(b) EUP/BAAS Paperback Series:
The Editors, Martin Halliwell and Emily West, had given the sub-committee an update on the series. They agreed to report back with any developments following a meeting with EUP on 9 July 2014. Three new high-quality works are in the pipeline. Some discussion was held by the sub-committee about how the series was marketed, especially in the US. Further discussion covered the way that textbooks are considered within the REF framework. Finally there was a discussion about the importance of the presence of both EUP and CUP at the annual Conference.

(c) ASIB:
Nothing to report from the sub-committee. The executive discussed the need to review the relationship of ASIB to the other BAAS web and mailing list developments. Its original function as a newsletter has now been partly eclipsed. It continues to hold a function as a hardcopy ‘brochure’ or aid for explaining BAAS and its activities, although the website and something simpler in printed form (e.g. a BAAS postcard) could serve the same. Content such as interviews with BAAS fellows, reports on awards and new member details could be delivered via the website in future. The repository aspect of recording BAAS work in hardcopy was noted. It was agreed to revisit this issue and that Bridget Bennett would check when Kal Ashraf’s tenure as ASIB Editor ends.

(d) Journal of American Studies

i. Bridget reported that the new Partnership Agreement has been completed. The Executive had ratified the revised contract. Work will now have to start on the detail of how it can be implemented and consideration be given to its implications for the future working agreement between BAAS and CUP.

ii. Appointment of JAS editors
Bevan Sewell and Celeste-Marie Bernier have been appointed as the joint Editors of the journal. Nick Witham was elected to the position of Associate (Media) Editor. The subcommittee had also voted on the appointment of a new Associate Editor. Sinéad Moynihan had the most votes and it was decided to ask the Executive Committee to ratify her as the new Associate Editor. The executive formally approved all the new appointments. Congratulations were noted.

iii. Appointment of a new JAS board member
Three candidates were considered for this position. All accepted their nominations and submitted a mission statement and CV in advance. Hugh Wilford had the most votes and it was decided to recommend that he replace Richard Crockatt on the Board. Alex Goodall came a near second and the sub-committee recommended to the Executive Committee that he should be appointed to the position that will be left vacant (in December 2014) when Brian Ward’s post expires.

Bridget noted that there should be a later discussion about whether or not to expand the Board and that Martine Walsh had already been consulted and had recommended expansion. It was agreed the discussion should be continued and Bridget reminded the sub-committee that for reasons of economy, Skype would be used to include overseas members who were unable to fund their own travel.

iv. JAS Report
A pre-circulated report was discussed by the sub-committee. The process of making a transition from one editorial team to another is under way. The provisional running order for the November 2014 issue has been agreed. Two special issues – ‘Acts of Emancipation’ (February 2015) and ‘Fictions of Speculation’ (November 2015) are in preparation. The first has been pushed back for editorial reasons.

(e) Standing Orders proposal
Bridget Bennett suggested that in future the standing orders for the sub-committee were changed to allow for the new arrangements between JAS and BAAS (as per the new agreement). This was accepted in principle. She will bring a full proposal to the next meeting. ACTION: BB

10. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)

(a) Birmingham 2014:
Sara Wood has reported a surplus from the Birmingham conference; details will follow in the next Treasurer’s report.

The state of progress with the application to the U.S. Embassy for funds to subsidise postgraduate attendance at the Birmingham conference needs to be checked. ACTION: SM/TS

(b) Northumbria 2015:
Everything is in hand for the 2015 conference at Northumbria. Joe Street the following matter to the committee’s attention: Joe proposed that, in order to attract publishers to Northumbria, they be charged only the conference attendance fee (i.e. there would be no additional charge for setting up a stand, as has been the case in previous years).

The Executive supported the suggestion.

An electronic version of the poster should be added to the website. ACTION: JS, KM

(c) Belfast 2016:
The conference will run 7-9 April. The receptions and venues are in place: on Thursday, Belfast City Hall will host a reception; on Friday, CCCU will host a reception at Queen’s University; on Saturday, the final plenary and banquet will take place at Titanic Belfast.

(d) CCCU 2017 and EAAS/BAAS 2018: Nothing to report.

11. Awards Subcommittee (JG reporting)

(a) The handover from Ian Bell to Jo Gill has taken place.

(b) There will be two GTA awards, at New Hampshire and Wyoming, next year. Doug Haynes is looking into a replacement for the Virginia arrangement, which has ceased. The importance of promoting and encouraging students to apply for these awards, as well as to the BAAS Postgraduate Essay prize, was stressed; the number of applications is not always as high as might be expected.

(c) As agreed at the last meeting, Honorary Fellowships will no longer be awarded annually, but rather only in years when the Executive identifies a particularly strong candidate.

(d) It was proposed that the BAAS/UCL Fellowship details be taken down from the website. This scheme could be revisited in the future. Jonathan Bell will need to be updated on this. ACTION: KM, JG

(e) Louise Cunningham will be in touch with Executive members about sitting on one of the award committees in January. It was noted that Jo Gill will be away in the States in the Spring and that Uta Balbier will be stepping in to cover on Awards.

(f) We should encourage those whom we are funding for research visits to the US to consider submitting articles to JAS.

12. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee

No report

13. EAAS

No report

14. AOB

(a) Sue Currell outlined the new Journal of American Studies agreement between CUP and BAAS:
• She gave a brief history of the relationship and described the process of reaching the new arrangements. Thanks were offered to Bridget Bennett especially for all her work on this.

• Sue tabled our Academic Partnership Agreement with CUP, highlighting that it brings new obligations and responsibilities but also significant benefits. The Agreement does not affect the decision-making authority of the Editors.

(b) Sue tabled the BAAS Constitution and Standing Orders. She drew the Executive’s attention to these documents as there will need to be some constitutional amendments arising out of the CUP Agreement. The amendments will need to come to the Executive in November for consideration prior to the AGM. ACTION: SC, JT

(c) Sue welcomed Celeste-Marie Bernier and Bevan Sewell, present by special invitation at the Executive and Publications Subcommittee meetings. In the future it might also be a good idea to have the Associate Editor as a member, providing cover where needed.

(d) Some other issues arising from the Agreement were noted and will need taking forward:
• The redesign of the JAS cover and branding.
• Membership subscription change from £20 to £25.
• Arrange a joint editorial meeting for September.
• Revised contracts for editors required.
• Invite Martine Walsh to future Publications Subcommittee meetings.

15. Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies will be held on 15 November 2014 at the University of Sussex, Brighton. Time tbc.

Outgoing Secretary: Dr. Jo Gill / Email: or / Office Phone: (01392) 264256 / 07963 940742

Incoming Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: / Office Phone: (0191) 3342570 / 07963 640482