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

British Association for American Studies


What’s next? A Report from Katerina Webb-Bourne, BAAS Postgraduate Representative


What’s next? A Report from Katerina Webb-Bourne, BAAS Postgraduate Representative

[vc_row margin_bottom=”15″][vc_column][dt_banner image_id=”13012″ bg_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.11)” min_height=”270″][/dt_banner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][dt_quote]As the newly elected postgraduate representative for BAAS I hope to build on the success of my predecessor Rachael Alexander by developing the networking and professional development opportunities for postgraduates via U.S. Studies Online and events, writes Katerina Webb-Bourne. I am currently working on a manifesto that addresses the immediate needs of the wider postgraduate community, so please get in touch with any concerns, problems or suggestions, or just to say hello, over at @baas_pgs.[/dt_quote][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Over the past two years l have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to attend the annual BAAS and BAAS PG conferences. These events have given me the chance to hear thought provoking research papers and be a part of the open, lively, and ever-evolving dialogues in American Studies. At King’s College London, where I am a PhD candidate, our American Studies department was recently restructured and has become a virtual Institute. After the loss of this focal point for our studies, the PhD cohort I am part of formed a student research group. Organisations such as these are important spaces for facilitating academic discussion but in particular they provide PhD students with invaluable social support networks that help[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]individuals through what can be a challenging and isolating experience. There are many similar networks to ours across universities in Britain, where PGs and ECRs would further benefit from being in dialogue with each other, and by being affiliated with BAAS. I ran for the role of postgraduate representative to engage with and connect networks of postgraduates, meet individual members, and to help the American and Canadian Studies community at BAAS continue to grow.

In my new role, I would like to begin my first term by thanking everyone at the annual conference at Queens University in Belfast for making me feel welcome and supported after the election. In the next few months I will be supporting the organising committee at Leeds University, hosts of the next BAAS PG conference. I am hoping to build on the success of my predecessor Rachael Alexander who together with the previous year’s committee, and in collaboration with HOTCUS, put on a tremendous event at the University of Glasgow. Throughout this year I will also be attending Executive Committee meetings and sitting in on the Conferences Subcommittee, where I hope I can best represent the concerns of postgraduates and raise any pertinent issues.

Currently, I am working on putting together a manifesto that addresses the immediate needs of the wider postgraduate community. In order to do this I would really like to hear from ACS students and academics, through U.S. Studies Online and the @baas_pgs twitter account. I am really looking forward to working with the new co-editors of U.S. Studies Online, Jade Tullett and Todd Carter, as well as the ECR representative, Ben Offiler. I think U.S. Studies Online has proved to be an invaluable resource and forum for highlighting the work of PGs and ECRs, voicing the issues academics are currently facing, and promoting American Studies events. Digital spaces are important for introducing researchers to one another, and I think that profiles like the 60 seconds interviews on U.S. Studies Online are great for ‘meeting’ academics before conferences. I would like to help further develop this digital infrastructure to link student networks together before events take place, and to encourage members to attend BAAS conferences to make the vital contributions and connections that keep our ACS community so vibrant.

I do not wish to speak for all postgraduates but I believe that concerns over finding a job, building a successful CV, and meeting the expectations of academic employers loom larger than ever over those about to complete their PhDs. I feel the advice of early career researchers who have tackled or are facing the challenges of getting published, choosing to pursue research posts or teaching jobs, and developing their next projects, is crucial. I think ensuring that professional development sessions continue to be on the BAAS programme, and the events it sponsors, will be a key facet of my role as postgraduate representative. However, I would also like to see these sessions expand not only to address the practical concerns of employment but also to acknowledge the pressures and stresses individual researchers can experience. Conferences and online journals provide postgraduate researchers with diverse opportunities to present their work, but most often they are the indispensable spaces where academics connect with one another.

I am keen to see that BAAS goes from strength to strength and continues to provide postgraduates in the ACS community with that confidence boost which comes from sharing ideas in a supportive environment.

Please get in touch with any concerns, problems or suggestions, or just to say hello, over at @baas_pgs!

Katerina Webb-Bourne is a Ph.D. candidate at King’s College London. Her research explores the racial politics, gender dynamics, and commemorative practises of the Black Indian community of New Orleans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]