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

British Association for American Studies


AGM 2019


AGM 2019

British Association for American Studies

Annual General Meeting 2019

The 2019 BAAS Annual General Meeting was held in the Jubilee Auditorium at the University of Sussex between 4.30 pm and 6.00 pm on Friday 26th April 2019. The meeting was quorate throughout (64 in attendance).


The minutes of the 2018 AGM held at EBAAS at UCL were circulated. They were amended to reflect that Joe Street and George Lewis counted the votes, and Theresa Saxon and Clodagh Harrington acted as scrutineers.

The amended minutes were approved (Nick Witham proposed; Joe Street seconded)

  1. Elections

Candidate statements have been available on the website as well as on display at the conference. In line with the constitution adopted in 2016, this year the process was overseen by two independent election scrutineers as well as the Elections Officer, Ben Offiler. Advanced electronic voting took place in advance. Safeguards were in place to minimise the possibility of members double voting. As ever, voting took place via the single transferable vote system with voters asked to rank their preferred candidates in order.

Chair                                                    Dr Cara Rodway (to 2022)                                 Unopposed

Secretary                                             Dr Rachel Williams (to 2022)                             Unopposed

Early Career Representative                 Dr James West (to 2021)                                   Unopposed

Ordinary Members                               Dr Lydia Plath (to 2022)

Dr Tom F Wright (to 2022)

Ben Offiler thanked all candidates for standing, and George Lewis, Josh Hollands, and Theresa Saxon for their assistance counting the votes.

  1. Chair’s report (Brian Ward reporting)

As usual I want to start with a word of thanks to all members of the Executive, elected and co-opted, for their efforts on behalf of the Association this year, and to all those who have served over the three years I’ve been BAAS Chair.

In particular, as this is my farewell address, I want to offer a special note appreciation to Kate Dossett who has been a wonderful vice chair throughout my term, as well as serving as chair of the chair of the Development and Education Sub-Committee. Kate deserves a good deal of credit for many of the innovations and initiatives of which I, and I think the vast majority of BAAS members, can be proud over the past few years – not least helping to establish the Women’s American Studies Network as an important part of the BAAS universe and helping to support the drive to pay more, and better, attention to issues of equality and diversity within the Association.

I’d also like to say a huge thank-you to Rachel Williams for stepping into the role of acting Secretary of the Association in January, and to Ben Offiler, who agreed to take on administration of the BAAS 2019 elections.

Similarly, the Association is greatly indebted to Cara Rodway, who effectively continued in her post as treasurer long into the summer of 2018, and who has continued to give enormous support to our co-treasurers, Eilidh Hall and Nicole Willson.

And finally, special thanks to all those stepping down from the Exec, or at least their current roles on the Exec, at this time: Rachel (in her capacity as ECR rep), Althea Legal-Miller (who has had a special responsibility for Equality and Diversity issues), Emma Long (after an exemplary stint as chair of our Award Sub-committee), and Joe Street (who has overseen the continued, indeed escalating, success of our publications portfolio with the JAS and the BAAS Paperback series, as well as the fabulous USSO).

You’ll hear from the sub-committee chairs in due course as they report on their portfolios, so I’ll try to keep this fairly brief and just flag some highlights of the Association’s year.

Equality and Diversity

In my first year as chair, BAAS members voted to make a commitment to E&D part of our new constitution and we have continued to work to try to weave good E&D practices into the fabric of how BAAS operates.

As I said last year, and it bears repeating today, there is no room for complacency here. Formal and informal feedback, not least through the some of the responses to the BAAS Membership survey last year, which you’ll hear more about shortly, indicates all-too-clearly that we still have a long way to go, collectively, to guard against all manner of latent and overt biases in the Association’s work and to build on and extend the culture of respect, inclusivity, and support that we should all be striving to secure.

In practical terms, part of that agenda for the past three years, since BAAS 2017 at Canterbury Christ Church, has been a policy of not accepting proposals for all-male panels at our annual conference.

In Autumn 2018 we received complaints from two non-members of the Association regarding the Call for Papers for this, the BAAS 2019 Conference, which eventually included threats of legal action, if we did not rescind the policy. Consequently, BAAS commissioned Bindmans law firm to provide advice on the legality of our CFP policy, which as you know was an effort to address the historic under-representation of women in academic conferences.

The headline from the report, is that Bindmans believes our policy to be a justified and proportionate response to the issue of female underrepresentation and very unlikely to be found illegal.

However, Bindmans did offer some specific recommendations for how to clarify the goals and demonstrate the value of our policy, including a minor rewording of our CFPs. Kate will say more about that proposed amendment, which is endorsed by the Executive, under the business of the Development and Education Sub-committee. At that time, members will be asked to vote on it.

I hope that the amendment will find Members’ support. It represents a tangible, practical commitment to the E & D ideals that we espouse.


Nicole and Eilidh will say more about our financial situation, but the Association is in good shape financially.

For Association veterans and newcomers alike, it is worth stressing that we have certainly come a long way from the situation not so long ago when the Association was perilously close to insolvency.

The relative financial health is thanks primarily to the revenue we now get from CUP for the Journal of American Studies – about which there is some exciting news that I’ll let Joe Street explain as part of the Publications Subcommittee report — and because of the generosity of the US Embassy, for whom we have continued to administer the Embassy-BAAS Small Grant Scheme.

Embassy-BAAS Grant Scheme

Indeed, I’m pleased to welcome two representatives from the Embassy to the conference and to this AGM Kim Dubois (Cultural Affairs Officer) and Anna Martz (Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer). On behalf of the Association, I’d like to express appreciation to Kim and Anna, and to their colleague Koen Van Eynde, for their support, and to Lydia Plath and Matt Shaw, who along with administrative assistant Katie Edwards, have managed the application and adjudication process extremely efficiently again this year. Also thanks to Cara Rodway and Zalfa Feghali who joined Lydia, Matt and myself on the review application panel.

Just to remind you, for the past 3 years we have administered these Embassy-BAAS Awards and they provide invaluable financial support to a wide range of scholarly, artistic, creative and educational projects, all with the common goal of promoting greater interest in and understanding of the United States.

Because the grants run on a calendar year, rather than a BAAS AGM to AGM year, we’re currently in mid-2019 cycle. But Lydia and Matt report that the first round in January 2019 generated 26 applications, of which 11 were funded to the tune of £38k.

This leaves £29.5k to disburse in the second round, with applications due on May 1.

Projects supported include a wide range of conferences, at national institutions such as Tate Modern and the British Library, and across the UK. Several projects included a strong focus on links with schools and young people, supporting civil society, and generally raising the profile of American Studies in the UK. It’s also worth commenting on the innovative formats for delivery of many of these projects, including podcasting, theatrical and dance productions and film festivals with related talks, seminar series, showcasing subject matter such as politics, art, history, gender studies, ecofeminism, and literary and cultural studies

Overall, in 2018, which included 2 rounds of applications after the last AGM, £68,265 was granted in support of 30 projects from 72 applications, including – given our geographical location – Making America: West Sussex and the United States.

In 2017, the first year of the scheme, when Jo Gill and Carole Holden managed the awards process, we were able to work with the Embassy to allocate some £81k of support to American Studies-themed projects.

That means that by the end of 2019, US Embassy generosity will have provided around £216.7k in funding support to the American Studies community broadly conceived. That is a major investment in the kind of work we do and want to see done to promote interest in and greater understanding of America in the UK.

As for the future, after granting us two extensions to the original one-year administration period, it is my understanding from Anna and Kim that the Embassy is reviewing its position on all its grants and expects to put administration of the 2020 grants out for tender again.

Although it will fall to my successor and their Exec, to make this call, it is my hope that, assuming the opportunity arises and the broad remit remains the same, BAAS will apply again for stewardship of these Awards. I can certainly say in all honesty, that being able to facilitate so much exciting and innovative work in the UK through these awards has been one of the highlights of my term as BAAS chair.

Letters of Support & Thanks

This year, I have written various letters of support on behalf of the Association to institutions and programmes in difficulty, including:

The University of Hull to voice concern about the threats to Modern Languages programmes and staff at Hull;

The library at SOAS, which as you know faces extremely draconian cuts.

The University of Keele to voice concern about the decision to end the American Studies BA Programme and to express support for Americanist colleagues and the David Bruce Centre. Here I should note that I received a full response from Shane O’Neill, PVC for Planning and Advancement at Keele, offering assurances that Keele’s Americanist staff are valued, American modules will continue to run and that the David Bruce Centre will continue to be a hub for important interdisciplinary research under the umbrella of a new Keele Institute for Social Inclusion;

I also wrote to Mr C. G. Dilworth (Pitlochry), a BAAS Member since the early 1960s who contacted Nicole Willson as co-Treasurer of the Association, because he wishes to make a small bequest to BAAS in his will. I thanked him in anticipation of his posthumous generosity and for his long-standing support of the Association.

Achievements, Announcements and events of note to BAAS members


Death of Peter Boyle, Nottingham

BAAS stalwart who initiated the Graduate Teaching Assistantships that took BAAS student members to NH & VA. Nice obituary by Peter Ling

Recognition & Fellowships

Joy Porter (Hull)

Awarded a 2018 National Teaching Fellowship, which recognises individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education;

Lucas Richert (Strathclyde)

Former winner of Arthur Miller First Book Prize in 2015 has been appointed as the George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;

Eilidh Hall, our own co-treasurer, was awarded a Fulbright-Royal Society of Scotland Fellowship to study and work at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.

PGR Jessica Mehta (Exeter) has been awarded an artists-in-residency fellowship by the National Parks Art Foundation at Gettysburg National Military Park and a Helm Fellowship at the Lilly Library to access the archives of Sylvia Plath.


Steven Powell (Liverpool) ed, The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy’s Noir World (Bloomsbury: 2008), has been nominated for the HRF Keating Award for Best Critical/Biographical work

Alan Rice (UCLAN/co-director of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research), in February 2019 secured an EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Skoldowska Intra-European Fellowship grant just shy of 213k Euros, which will employ a post-doc, Astrid Haas, to work on “Black Inter-American Mobilities and Autobiographies in the Age of Revolutions.”

Also, IBAR’s Stuart Hall Fellowship student Jade Montserrat (working on a PhD on Black Atlantic and the North) won a Transport for London award as part of the Art on the Underground programme, designing 3 original works which appeared on posters throughout the network.

Some final thoughts

In signing off as Chair, I’d just like to say a few things.

During my time in office, I think we have begun to make progress, tentatively and, in all candour, belatedly, on a number of important fronts to transform the culture of the Association. I’ve already mentioned E & D issues, where we can and must continue to be proactive and strive to create the kind of professionally nurturing and personally secure environment in which all our members feel valued, respected and empowered. It’s not an endpoint in this journey at all, but the fact that 9 of the 14 members of the current Exec are women strikes me as an encouraging sign that, within the Association, notions of an old boys club are finally beginning to wane.

I also think we have begun to make BAAS activities more accessible, more enjoyable, and supportive, for man of our PGR and ECR members.

Each year we have set aside ever more financial support for PGRs and ECRs, sponsoring bespoke ice-breaker events, subsidizing or picking up the costs of various activities, offering hardship funds to defray the costs of attendance at most of the Conferences we sponsor, or co-sponsor, we’ve explored various kinds of childcare support at BAAS-related events. Similarly, bursaries for PGR and/or ECRs are a common feature of most of the projects which we fund, as they are for many of the submissions to the US Embassy-BAAS small grants schemes. We now have peer reading groups to help develop scholarship, fund the USSO keynote lecture competition that’s become a key part of the annual PGR conference, and have a variety of paid internships for work on JAS or in the BAAS archive.

Again, this isn’t about congratulatory complacency – the membership survey last year revealed how much is left to do. Rather, it is a plea to those who follow me to keep trying to find innovative and practical ways to help this cohort of colleagues as they make their way in the profession.

We all are, or should be, acutely aware of the vulnerability of vast numbers of our colleagues in the so-called ‘Precariat.’ As I mentioned at last year’s AGM, BAAS is in no position to solve the deep structural problems, rampant exploitation, and systemic inequities that plague Higher Education in the UK. Still, it should do all it can to avoid being complicit in perpetuating those problem and continue to help the emerging generation of Americanists, so they can achieve their full potential as scholars and teachers.

Penultimately, I would also like to remind you all of the importance of the work you do, as scholars and teachers of things American. The calibre of research and quality of scholarship to be found among BAAS members is extraordinary and quite humbling, as is the talent and passion for teaching about the American experience, in all its multifaceted guises. Your expertise in and informed understanding of the histories, cultures, politics, economics and evolving global relationships of the United States, your ability to present that knowledge authoritatively to diverse audiences, has never been more valuable. Your commitment to quality scholarship and your ability to share it, whether formally or informally, really matters in making the US, indeed the world, more intelligible.

Finally, I should simply like to thank the Association for giving me the opportunity to serve as its chair. I want to express sincere gratitude to all those with whom I’ve worked over the past 3 years for their counsel, sometimes their correction, but always their support. It’s been mostly a pleasure and always a privilege to occupy the role and I wish my successor the very best.

I will, of course, continue to support the work of the Association in whatever ways I can as a civilian.

  1. Treasurers’ Report (Nicole Willson reporting – Eilidh Hall in absentia)

Treasurers’ Communications

This has been an unusually protracted handover period, as NW and EH did not formally take up their appointment until September 2018. NW and EH thank the executive for their patience, and also Cara Rodway for continuing to consult on matters of importance, especially in the preparation of the annual accounts and trustees report.

Membership Figures

Currently number 628 members in the online system (inc. 281 concessionary memberships); this is up by 10 from last year when there were 618 members (with the same number of concessionary memberships). Louise Cunningham is continuing to manage the member lists and to transfer information from the old Google spreadsheets over to the online system.

Account balances (as of 24/04/2019)

  1. BAAS Charity Barclays Current Account £8,902.64
  2. BAAS Charity Barclays Savings Account £103,720
  3. BAAS Charity Shawbrook Savings Account £20,521.94
  4. PayPal             £21,620.78
  5. BAAS Publications Barclays Current Account £22,470

Presentation of the 2018 accounts

[At AGM – Proposed by Joe Street and seconded by Cara Rodway]

The accounts show a steadily improving position due mainly to income receivable from BAAS Publications Ltd. BAAS Publications will Gift Aid £55,348 to BAAS Charity before 30 September 2019. The reserves for the year are £155,831.

Activities since last meeting

The mandate changes on all accounts have now been completed and EH and NW now have full access (EH still needs to request access to Pubs accounts and has been unable to do this while in the US). Since receiving access to the Publications account earlier this year, the tax bill loan made by the charity to cover reserves in the Publications account has now been repaid.

Savings account (in Feb 2017, £20k of our reserves was put into a one-year fixed rate savings account with Shawbrook Bank, through the Charities Aid Foundation, with a return of 1.30% gross), this has now matured and been rolled over for another year; the interest earned in 2018-19 was £263.36. We may wish to consider transferring more money into this savings account in the coming year.


Although the admin load associated with the Treasurer role is currently split across the two Co-Treasurers, NW and EH would like to consult the other officers about streamlining what continues to be a very heavy administrative burden with the possibility of taking on additional administrative support. This was a suggestion put forward by the former treasurer.

The accounts were circulated and approved (Joe Street proposed; Cara Rodway seconded).

  1. Report of the Chair of the Publications Sub-Committee (Joe Street reporting)

This is my last report as chair of the publications subcommittee. It has been nothing but a delight serving BAAS in this role and I want to thank everybody who served on Pubs Subcom; everybody at JAS/USSO/EUP/BOA for putting up with my shambling incompetence.

Journal of American Studies

Another successful and busy year for JAS. The editorial term of Bevan Sewell and Celeste Marie Bernier concluded, and they were succeeded by Nick Witham and Sinead Moynihan. I enjoyed every moment of working with the outgoing editors and thank them again for their fabulous work on the journal. I would say that I look forward to working alongside Nick and Sinead, but will leave that to my successor.

Subscriptions continue to be healthy. The end of 2018 saw a total circulation of 2,570 worldwide, which netted BAAS a healthy sum that the Treasurer has outlined. Our relationship with Cambridge University Press continues to be strong, and they forecast year-on-year increases both in circulation and income for the next five years. CUP has agreed to distribute JAS free of charge to a selection of institutions in Africa; this is an excellent initiative that will not only help those institutions immensely, but will also boost our international reach.

As this suggests, the Journal is in excellent shape. It continues to earn the vast majority of BAAS’s income. With careful management, this should ensure that the organization can expand its programmes to support postgraduates and early career researchers for many years to come.

We have agreed to a small increase in the editorial board, in line with BAAS’s equality and diversity campaign. This includes the nomination of Judith Madera of Wake Forest University; Anke Ortlepp of the University of Cologne; and Georgiana Banita of the University of Bamberg.

Proposed increase from four to five issues per year, reflecting the strength and volume of the submissions that the journal now receives, and that will give the editors greater leeway for the construction of themed issues and suchlike.

USSO – US Studies Online

USSO consistently gains thousands of visitors each month, with nearly 20,000 page views in the first three months of 2019.

USSO continues to attract a vast array of posts on too many subjects to go into here. I would, however, like to point out their excellent bookhour series that runs via their twitter account. Worth following!

Thanks to editors: Ruth Lawlor and Rachael Alexander.

It has truly been an honour and a privilege working with them on BAAS’s behalf. I have recommended to my successor as Publications Chair to explore an increase in BAAS’s funding for this important resource.

EUP BAAS Paperbacks series

Continues thanks to the excellent leadership of Martin Halliwell and Emily West. Recent and forthcoming publications include A. Robert Lee’s The Beats; Caroline Blinder’s The American Photo-Text. They’re always on the lookout for new monograph proposals and will happily discuss any ideas you have.

Sadly, Emily needed to take a step back from the series recently; Martin and EUP advertised for a replacement and the process will conclude very soon.

I wish to thank Martin and Emily for their excellent work with EUP on BAAS’s behalf.


The first British Online Archives archival fellowship took place over summer 2018. I am pleased to report that it was an unqualified success. The winning candidate Rose Pearce spent ten days at the National Archives researching links between the UK and Black Power activism. Her findings will be published as an online archival collection by BOA in the near future.

My successor will soon be opening discussions with BOA over the next fellowship: keep your eyes out for information in the BAAS newsletter.

  1. Report of the Chair of the Development and Education Sub-Committee

Develop a Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy for BAAS Conferences.

BAAS has agreed to fund a conference at the British Library in 2019 called ‘The Future of the Conference’. The conference will bring together a range of experts including the Charity Commission, UCU and legal advisers, alongside other professional associations including HOTCUS, BRANCA, SHAW, BRANCH and BAAS members to explore ideas for developing a more inclusive conference culture in the 2020s. It would also help BAAS and other professional associations within American Studies think through ways to address the diversity problems highlighted by recent memberships surveys within BAAS and HOTCUS as well as complaints of inappropriate and bullying behaviour  on one particular panel at EBAAS in April 2018. BAAS published an anti-harassment statement on its website in 2018. (Rachel Williams and Nick Grant will lead on this)

Women in American Studies Network and BAAS

The Women in American Studies Network which has held an annual lunch meeting at the BAAS Conference since 2017,  has set up a steering group made up of representatives of BAAS, SHAW, HOTCUS, BRANCH, BrANCA, American Politics Group and the British Association of Early American Historians.

This steering group will meet once or twice a year to help the organizations share ideas and collaborate on events and activities as well as develop a programme of events and an online network and database of women in American studies. BAAS has agreed to serve as the coordinating centre for the WASN steering committee, to have a designated WASN representative, to host information about and links to the network on the BAAS website and to contribute to funding steering committee meetings by allaying travel costs.

Peer-Reading Scheme for Early Career Researchers.

BAAS developed a peer reading scheme for Early Career Researchers which matches up researchers with partners to read work and offer support with writing and research. (Rachel Williams)

Schools Working Group

BAAS has established a schools working group with a budget of up to £2000 to be awarded to applicants putting on a schools event through a competitive call for papers. This has now gone live:

There are two grants available up to £1,000 each that are designed to support initiatives that would bring together academics working in UK Higher Education and secondary school teachers interested in American Studies topics. Deadline 10 May. Details on the website.

All BAAS members are eligible to apply and we would specifically welcome applications that:

  • Speak to the needs of secondary school teachers and the subjects they are covering in the classroom.
  • Have a clear strategy to work with state schools.
  • Have a clear Widening Participation focus and address issues of representation, inclusion and diversity in UK universities.
  • Tackle issues of diversity in relation to the GCSE and/or A-Level curriculum.

Membership Survey Report (BO)

The membership survey report was published in September 2018. BAAS is writing up the first in a series of reports on its findings. The first of these has been  published on the BAAS website

Conference Call for Papers

In 2018 BAAS received complaints from two individuals (non-members) regarding its conference call for papers for the 2019 BAAS conference at the University of Sussex.

The CFP makes clear that conference organizers will not accept all male conference panels.

Since one of the complainants threatened legal action BAAS engaged Bindmans, a legal firm with specialism in equalities law, to advice on the legality of its call for papers. The legal advice was that the existing policy designed to increase the representation of women at conferences is likely a lawful application of the 2010 Equalities Act.

BAAS’s solicitor did however make a number of important recommendations:

  • an expansion of the rationale behind the policy in future Calls for Paper –and I will shortly present this as a motion to the AGM for discussion and I hope approval (see item 6 in the minutes).
  • Second recommendation is that BAAS systematically review data on panel proposals and delegates to its conferences over the last 3-5 years This includes:
  1. Conducting a review of panel proposals in recent years to ascertain
  2. the proportion of women and men proposed to speak on panels
  3. the proportion of women and men speaking on panels.
  • The impact of the policy.
  1. Looking forwards, BAAS needs to implement an ongoing process of monitoring the gender composition of panel proposals and panels at conference. This is important for BAAS to be able to demonstrate that it is measuring the impact of the Policy, and that the policy is not permanent.
  2. With this in mind Conference committee of BAAS will work with BAAS Conference organizers to design a template for future conferences and the collection of data which bears in mind General Data Protection Regulations. This will likely involve conference applicants voluntarily contributing data regarding gender at the point of panel submission, which information will be kept for a time limited period.
  3. Conference Policy

Motion: In response to 5.1 above, Kate Dossett proposed inclusion of the following text in future CFPs. Bold text indicates additional wording to explain the rationale for the policy:

BAAS is dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. We will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of our field in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and institutional affiliation. We will also give preference to panels that include a mix of participants from across the career spectrum (i.e., from postgraduate to professor). Historically women have been disproportionately underrepresented on panels and BAAS is taking positive action, as permitted under s.158 Equality Act 2010, to enable and encourage the participation of women. For this reason all-male panel proposals will not be accepted. BAAS may constitute an all-male panel or other presentation where absolutely necessary (but any such consideration will be other than via the call for papers procedure).

The meeting debated the motion. Points of discussion included:

  • Concern over how the wording might reinforce a gender binary rather than reflect the diversity of the gender spectrum.
  • Calls to clarify the phrase “BAAS may constitute an all-male panel” and discussion of eventualities which might require this.
  • Members suggested that in order to make BAAS and BAAS-sponsored conferences inclusive and welcoming spaces, it would also be useful to provide guidelines for chairs and conference etiquette. It was felt that rather than providing a list of prohibited behaviours, it would be more constructive to collate and disseminate resources aimed at supporting conference organisers in creating inclusive events.
  • The issue of class – as the equalities monitoring form that will now be part of the conference registration process, is there a way to gather data surrounding class, to help improve representation of people from typically under-represented socio-economic backgrounds at BAAS?

KD stressed that this policy will continue to be refined in coming years, in line with advice from Bindmans. The discussion points above will be put to the Future of the Inclusive Conference conference.

The motion to adopt the new language was put to the membership (Theresa Saxon proposed; Nick Witham seconded). The motion was carried unanimously with no abstentions.

  1. Report of the Chair of the Awards Sub-Committee (Emma Long reporting)

The BAAS awards programme has run successfully again this year.  16 awards have been made in nine categories.

Many awards are offered with partner institutions and I’d like to thank them for their continued support:

  • University of Wyoming who will, once again, host a fully-funded GTA student for 2 years
  • University of New Hampshire who are currently hosting a fully-funded GTA student
  • University of Mississippi who are currently hosting a fully-funded GTA student
  • The Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, for making it possible for one UK teacher to spend a week among the collections to enhance their teaching of Jefferson and the revolutionary era
  • Arthur Miller Institute at UEA for their sponsorship of a first book prize and an article prize

I’d like also to thank all those colleagues who served as judges for this year’s awards: it wouldn’t be possible without your hard work.  Particular thanks also to Louise Cunningham and Katie Edwards, our administrators, for their outstanding work in running the Awards process.

All the awards were highly competitive again this year, showcasing the depth and breadth of work by the American Studies community.  These awards only work because people submit to them so I also want to thank everyone who submitted applications for the awards, and offer congratulations to those successful applicants.

The BAAS awards will be announced and awarded at the conference dinner this evening (Friday April 26).  A booklet containing the names of all the award winners will be available to all delegates.

In line with BAAS policy on equality and diversity, I’m currently putting together a report looking at aspects of the awards that are available to us – in particular, any gender divisions and geographical locations of applicants.  Once complete, information will be added to the BAAS website.

  1. Report of the Chair of the Conferences Sub-Committee (Laura MacDonald reporting)

The 63nd BAAS Annual Conference was a joint event with EAAS and was held at King’s College London, University College London, and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, 4-7 April 2018. There were 129 panels, 455 papers, 515 delegates, and a surplus was returned to BAAS. The Annual Conference was, as always, a place of lively debate and stimulating new research, manifested in three engaging and well-attended keynote speeches from Bettye Collier-Thomas (Temple University), Jo Gill (University of Exeter), and M. Giulia Fabi (University of Ferrara). Reflecting BAAS’ commitment to Equality and Diversity, the conference included a joint lunch session of the BAAS Women’s Network with members of the EAAS Women’s Network.  Sabina Peck (BAAS Cadbury Library intern) spoke about the history of women in BAAS and the results of her research were also on display in an exhibit throughout the conference.

America’s Urgent and Great Problems, the Annual BAAS Postgraduate Conference, was held at Northumbria University (3 November 2018). This one day event was attended by 60 delegates

and combined panels, roundtables, plenaries, and training workshops. Following the tradition of having a postgraduate or early career researcher keynote speaker, this year’s conference began with a speech from Dr. E. James West (Northumbria University).

To support BAAS work in building a more inclusive and diverse scholarly community, the Conferences Committee worked with the organisers of the 2019 conference at Sussex to pilot a Targetted Research Panels initiative, which generated 15 proposals. Funding has been awarded to the convenors of two panels, who will each organise two successive annual conference panels that will support, promote, and feature the production of research by and about people of colour, LGBTQ+, and disability communities. The 2019-20 recipients will present at Sussex and Liverpool.

Over the course of 2018 various events were awarded Small Conference Support Grants by the Conferences Subcommittee. These included:

  • The Cartographic Imagination: Art, Literature and Mapping in the United States, 1945-1980 (Paris School of Arts and Culture, University of Kent, 18-19 May 2018). The Small Conference Support Grant was used to support postgraduate presenters at the event.
  • Did Liberalism Fail in the United States after 1945? Identity and Conflict from Truman to Trump (University of Glasgow, 1 June 2018). Funding from BAAS was used to support a prize for an ECR or PhD to deliver a plenary at the end of the symposium, and this initiative was enthusiastically received by attendees with regards to the initiative.
  • “Women and Slavery: Agency and Constraint in the Slaveholding South” (Manchester Metropolitan University, 19 January 2019). The Small Conference Grant made it possible to fully fund the participation of five postgraduate attendees.

Small Conference Support Grants have been made to forthcoming conferences:

  • “Marx and Marxism in the United States: A One-Day Symposium” (University of Nottingham, 11 May 2019)
  • “Arts Patronage in Modern America” (University of Oxford, 26-28 June 2019)
  • “Society for the History of Women in the Americas (SHAW) Annual Conference” (University of Reading, 5 July 2019)


  1. Report of the Postgraduate Representative (Olivia Wright reporting)

Thanks to Kat Webb-Bourne for her help and hard work during the PG Rep handover.

The 2018 PG BAAS conference was held at Northumbria University in November and was expertly organized by students Simon Buck and Rowan Hartland. They organized a variety of events throughout the day including a speed networking session, five panels, a keynote from James West, and a roundtable on PGR and ECR pay, job security, workload, and health and wellbeing. The latter roundtable was particularly successful and many of the delegates emphasized a desire to see these kinds of discussions held at conferences and events in the future.

There were several postgraduate events also taking place at the 2019 BAAS conference at Sussex. On the Thursday night, PGs met at The Lord Nelson pub in Brighton for a student mixer, funded by BAAS, and Friday lunchtime, students came together for a networking lunch. Over the course of the Friday, the students also had the opportunity to schedule a publishing surgery session with Manchester University Press’s Paul Clarke. Many thanks to Tom Davies and Tom Wright for organizing the events.

PG BAAS 2019 is being held at the British Library. The PG rep, Olivia, has organized the call for organizers, looking for two postgraduate students from different universities across the UK to work with the Eccles Centre team to run the conference. She received many applications and students will be notified in the coming weeks, with the Call For Papers and date of the conference released shortly after.

  1. Report of the Representative to EAAS (Jenny Woodley reporting)

Members are reminded that EJAS has a continuing agreement with ProQuest, and BAAS members are encouraged to submit work for publication.

BAAS members have had recent success securing funding from the EAAS travel awards. Members should consider applying to EAAS!

The EAAS women’s network held a really successful and well-attended symposium on feminism and techno science. JW to circulate details of the next event. They plan to launch an e-journal which will be biennial to publish symposium papers.

The next EAAS conference will be held in Warsaw between 1 May – 3 May 2020 NB this has been postponed in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

In 2022, the EAAS conference will be held in Madrid w/c April 4th (TBC).

  1. Any other business

Joe Street offered a vote of thanks to Brian Ward for his inspiring leadership and stellar work as Chair over the past three years. The Executive Committee presented Brian with a gift as a token of their appreciation for his service.

The meeting closed at 6.15 pm.