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

British Association for American Studies


Minutes 293


Minutes 293

British Association for American Studies


Minutes 293rd

Minutes of the 293rd meeting of the Executive Committee held at Roehampton University on Monday 25 June 2018 at 3.00 pm.


  1. Present: Brian Ward (Chair), Sylvia Ellis (Secretary), Kate Dossett, Simon Hall, Laura MacDonald, Rachel Williams, Nick Grant, Ben Offiler, Michael Collins, Olivia Wright.
  2. Apologies: Cara Rodway, Joe Street, Chris Parkes, Nick Witham, Emma Long, Bevan Sewell, Celeste Bernier.
  3. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

  1. Matters Arising


  1. Review of Action List

The Chair asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties. Items will be addressed under the relevant sections below.


  1. Chair’s Business (BW reporting)

(a)        Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence


  1. Eccles Centre


The Eccles Centre will take management of its awards in-house. BAAS members still warmly encouraged to apply, but after this year we won’t be responsible for co-administering/judging them. This has implications for how we work with Louise Cunningham at Keele, who is part-paid by Eccles and helps with our Awards and membership lists/dues, too.


Phil Hatfield, new-ish Eccles Centre Director, is keen to continue to work closely with BAAS and BW will meet with him this week to think about joint initiatives, possibly an annual joint symposium; schools outreach; even a special co-sponsored PGR/ECR fellowship to work specifically on Black British-African American studies. Eccles would also like to have an annual stall at the annual BAAS Conference — and presumably would still want to announce its awards at the BAAS Conference. No change to the annual Eccles lecture at the Conference planned as far as I’ve been told.


  1. ii) BAAS-US Embassy Awards, 2018


Second tranche of 12 Awards recently announced in response to the May call for bids. At present there’s a modest underspend of £5-6k for the year, some of which is being held back as a hedge against currency fluctuations. BW currently talking with Matthew Shaw and Lydia Plath about the prospects of running a third call, with a mid-September deadline for smaller amounts £1-2K. Embassy pre-approved this in principle.


Lydia has also alerted me to a possible bid to the fund from JAS to support another roundtable/symposium on teaching Am Studs, akin to the one on teaching African American studies in the UK that featured in the JAS recently. Ben and Zalfa would lead on submitting this application, but it may be that we (as in BAAS) should consider underwriting some kind of annual JAS teaching symposium – we could use revenue from the JAS & BAAS publications account and that would avoid any potential conflict of interest given that Lydia is keen to be involved.


Given the robust state of our finances, ring-fencing £3-5k for this kind of event annually should be possible. We can even make an effort to include teachers, or at least let them know when/where they can read the round table or access any related online resources. BW will ask Ben and Zalfa to put together a formal proposal and run it via Joe Street and the publications sub-committee so the Exec can consider it, ideally in November.


iii) We asked Emma Long to prepare some rough and ready stats on who applies to our various awards primarily so that we can think about how to encourage and support female scholars. We can share responses to her memo and suggestions via email, but it did seem to me sensible to try to get the publicity for the School essay prize out in September as she proposes.


  1. iv) Embassy News  


Tim Gerhardson, a big supporter and eminently sensible around the Awards, has finished his tour of duty and moved on. He’ll be replaced in the Cultural Affairs office by Anna Martz in July. In the meantime we don’t know what exactly, if anything, the Embassy will do with us next year in terms of funding American Studies projects — we can’t have the no-questions asked extension again, so it may be we have to bid to administer the money again.


Meanwhile BW will see Sarah Van Horne tomorrow and possibly Kim Du Bois, cultural attaché to chat about such things. SVH is very keen on developing more/new interactive schools outreach materials and we may be able to participate/help with that.


  1. v) Treasurer


BW acknowledged his personal and the Association’s huge indebtedness to Cara Rodway for continuing in the Treasurer role while we search for a replacement.  Ben Offiler was unable to take up the Treasurer’s post to which he was elected in April, due to the fact that he was also selected to be co-Associate Editor of JAS. It’s testament to Cara’s ongoing commitment to BAAS that she’s done this role for several months beyond the point at which she should have stepped aside.


BW reminded the Exec that we are currently in mid-election for a successor, and urged everyone to be proactive in encouraging all the BAAS members to vote, not just for treasurer but also for the EAAS representative post.


Once the treasurer election is completed, BAAS faces the prospect of a job-share for the first time in BAAS’s history. That could well prove to be a really good thing, but as neither candidates has any experience of the BAAS Exec or its accounts, there’s going to be a very very steep learning curve.


More generally, BW has talked extensively with Cara about ways to streamline the job and make more, to some extent different, use of our administrative support — Louise (who may have more capacity if she’s not handling the Eccles Awards) and Katie Edwards, who administers the Embassy-BAAS Awards. It may well be that we should be creating a new Financial Administrator role for Katie, Louise or AN Other, as there are a lot of routine but time consuming functions (some aspects of payroll, communications with accountants) that currently fall to the treasurer.


It is also apparent from just these preliminary conversations that there are a number of things we should and could do better — some of them to make sure we’re in full compliance with best financial and accounting practices as laid out by the Charities Commission (not least instituting a more robust system of ‘dual authorisation’ for expenditures, but also chasing up our claims of Gift Aid and VAT reporting). We also need to increase our contingency reserve funds, with some more ethical investments.


The cumulative effect of all these factors relating to our accounts and to the treasurer(s)’s role led BW to propose whether the Executive should ask Cara to stay on in a kind of consultancy-cum-mentoring role until next April (2019). This means that she could prepare a formal set of proposals for restructuring the post for consideration by the Exec, including the new treasurers, who would also be involved in drafting the proposal so that they are on board with the recommendations.


Cara was always going to do a thorough handover to her successor, but in her role as consultant, she would be even more available to help smooth the transition to a new treasury team and help initial liaisons with our accountants, the Embassy and the Charities Commission.


BW also asked the Executive to consider offering some remuneration to Cara for this effort beyond our undying gratitude and flowers.


After a discussion it was agreed that BW would explore this option further, but it was noted that, if an ex-gratia payment is made to Cara for her extraordinary service to the Association, this would be an exceptional case and not serve as a precedent for the future.


  1. e) Members’ Achievements

Eilidh Hall has been awarded a Fulbright-Royal Society of Scotland Fellowship to study and work at Trinity University, Texas.




  1. Secretary’s Business (SE reporting)



  • Reported that she had been administered the election for Treasurer and EAAS rep and the deadline for candidates is 1 Huly 2018.


  • Reported that she had updated the Charities Commission website with details of new Exec members after the April election.


  • The date of the November meeting to be confirmed.



  1. Treasurer’s Business (SE reporting for CR)
  • Bank accounts (as at 25 June 2018)

BAAS Current Account     £5,732.47

BAAS Savings Account   £31,293.75

PayPal                             £9,325.33

BAAS Publications Ltd    £72,041.21

CAF Savings Account     £20,258.58


TOTAL                         £138,651.34


  • Membership Figures unavailable (to be provided for the minutes – LC on leave at the moment!)


  • Treasurer role
    1. Following the AGM in April, CR continued as acting Treasurer following the decision of the Treasurer Elect not to take up the role. With the new election concluding on 1 July, CR hopes to begin handover to the new co-Treasurers at that point.


  • BAAS/US Embassy Awards programme 2017-18
    1. The first payment was received from the Embassy on 21/11/2017 of £37,900.00 (equivalent of $50k). The second payment of $50k has not yet been received and needs to be chased


  • Accounts for 2017:
    1. Accounts for 2017 for both charity registrations and BAAS Publications have been finalised and submitted.


  • Forthcoming Issues
    1. CR and BW have had some initial conversations about how the Treasury admin could be streamlined and improved.
    2. Equality and Diversity

No report.


  1. Publications Subcommittee (SE reporting for JS)
  • Journal of American Studies


Nothing of significance to report. The editorial teams are in the transitioning phase and are organizing the September editorial board meeting.

  • Edinburgh University Press: BAAS Paperbacks

Blinder, The American photo-Text, 1930-60: Final typescript submitted

Bob Lee, The Beats: Submitted manuscript. Currently with Martin Halliwell

Stirrup/Orr, The US-Canadian Border: approved by EUP committee.  This is a co-edited book, and represents a new departure for the series.


Emily will send a message via BAAS mailing list to promote the series and encourage submissions, June 2018


  • USSO

USSO is happy to announce the new editorial team for the period 2018-2020:

  • Rachael Alexander (Strathclyde) – Co-Editor (2018-2020); Event Reviews Editor (2016-2018)
  • Ruth Lawlor (Cambridge) – Co-Editor (2018-2020); Book Reviews Editor (2016-2018)
  • Sage Goodwin (Oxford) – Social Media Editor
  • Jennie O’Reilly (Liverpool John Moores University) – Event Reviews Editor
  • Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo (Edinburgh) – European Relations Editor
  • Christina Westwood (Keele) – Book Reviews Editor


The blog will be receiving a makeover over the next few months. The new social media editor, Sage, will spruce up the logo and the interface to give the site a more streamlined look and improve navigability.


Our reviews editors, Jennie and Christina, have proposed a trial run for organising content thematically – in other words, multi-perspectival conference reviews which focus on themes and related panels, such as a BAAS gender panels review or race panels review etc., and book reviews organised according to theme and/or discipline, forming self-contained mini-series. The email system is being updated, with thanks to Nick, Cara and the team at Clear & Creative for their help on this.   The co-editors will meet face-to-face later this month to sketch out our broader vision for the next two years.



The new term begins with the long-awaited State of the Discipline series. This set of reviews will survey cutting-edge work in the field while also celebrating its diversity. To kick off the series are reviews of Andrew Lippman’s ‘The Saltwater Frontier’ and Michael Denning’s ‘Noise Uprising’.


This month saw published reviews of the BRANCA Symposium, the ‘Magazines on the Move: North American Periodicals and Travel’ conference co-organised by the Centre for Travel Writing Studies and the Network for American Periodical Studies, the ‘Investigating Identities in Young Adult (YA) Narratives’ conference at the University of Northampton, and the International Slavery Museum’s ‘Bluecoat 300: Charity, Philanthropy and the Black Atlantic’ symposium. We will be reviewing the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) Conference, scheduled to take place in Cambridge later this month.


A new series to commemorate will be run on the historic publication of ‘Barracoon: the Story of the Last Black Cargo’ (Harper Collins, 2018): Zora Neale Hurston – Life and Works. We have commissioned a number of pieces from Hurston scholars for this series and are working with Michael Fuchs (University of Graz) on an exciting video games series, which will display the depth, breadth and diversity of the field of American Studies and its new and emerging components.



Our new European Relations editor, Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo, is working on a CfP that touches on researcher positionality— specifically inviting work that engages with the role and standpoint of European researchers in American Studies. This will be circulated to EAAS, IAAS, H-Net and UPenn. Maria will also be in touch with the Women in American Studies Network to invite work that considers gender as a part of such research specifically, and will also be reaching out to networks for researchers of colour.

As we learned during the interviews of candidates for the editorial positions, some of our most popular features are Book Hour, My Research and 60 seconds. This month will see a new round of 60 seconds posts, one for each member of the editorial team as well as our new BAAS PG rep, Olivia Wright, published every Friday. We are in the process of commissioning more My Research posts, which we plan to update and upscale. Once the blog has been updated, we will also bring back Book Hour. We are in the processing of moving our archived content from Storify to Wakelet since Storify is due to shut down soon.

  • British Records Related to America on Microfilm

The advert for the BAAS-British Online Archives archival fellowship, which went live last week. We have received some high quality applications, which is great news. The closing date is 24 June (today) and we’ll be announcing the successful applicant shortly. The fellow will conduct their work over the summer and report back to BOA and BAAS afterwards. It’s taken about two years of organizing to get this fellowship arranged, and I’d like to thank Dave Sarsfield and Kathryn Rose for their commitment to the project, Ken Morgan for his sage advice and support throughout the process, Rachel Williams for her excellent input and Kate Dossett for her expert contribution. We’ll have a full debrief after the fellow’s report is received before arranging for the next fellowship.

  • Equality and Diversity:

Just a brief note to confirm that the BAAS-BOA fellowship is fully compliant with both organizations’ E&D policies.



  1. Development and Education Subcommittee (KD reporting)


(a)  Constitution of the Development and Education Committee


BW raised the question of the large workload and wide ranging portfolio of this committee. The Committee considered the merits of separating out Schools and Education onto a separate committee but decided that the range of views of the large membership was useful to developing new policies for BAAS.

To address the larger workload the D&E Committee will continue to make more use of working groups, such as the new working group on schools and on conference guidelines and harassment policy. Additionally D&E will meet an hour earlier than other subcoms.


Action:  Invite D&E committee to meet an hour before the schedule meeting time for subcoms at the November Northumbria meeting.


(b)  Harassment at EBAAS


There was a discussion of instances of inappropriate and bullying behaviour on one particular panel at EBAAS. This was reported to members of the BAAS executive and flagged on social media.  The incident was passed up to the Chair of BAAS. BW responded that he was disappointed to learn of this behaviour and that he had spoken with two senior members of BAAS who were present at the panel in question. Both had expressed regret that they had not intervened to stop the inappropriate behaviour.


There was also a discussion about the need to acknowledge that unacceptable behaviours took place at EBAAS. For BAAS members to have confidence in the development of a new policy on conduct at conferences it was agreed there have to consequences and acknowledgement of unacceptable practice at the 2018 conference.


Action:  BW to draft a statement on EBAAS 2018


  • Working Group on Code of Conduct at Conferences and Harassment Policy


A working group consisting of KD, RW and NG formed to explore how best to develop a set of guidelines or code of conduct for BAAS conferences and a harassment policy.  RW has conducted some research into the guidelines and harassment policies for a range of professional associations both in the U.K and the U.S. These are wide ranging and include guidelines on accessibility as well as zero tolerance of harassing and bullying behaviour enforced by expulsion from the conference and membership of the association. RW will circulate these for the executive committee. NG has been in contact with the Charities Commission to explore how the CC might be able to advise BAAS in relationship to developing a set of procedures to deal with complaints and legal implications.

KD presented a proposal for BAAS to fund a one day event entitled “The Future of the Inclusive Conference.” The purpose of the conference would be to bring together a range of experts including the Charity Commission, UCU and legal advisers, alongside  sister professional associations including HOTCUS, BRANCA, SHAW, BRANCH and BAAS members to explore and shape the what an inclusive conference might look like in the 2020s.

The event would allow BAAS to listen to its membership, seek advice from and share best practice with other professional associations as well as legal advice on developing and implementing a code of conduct and harassment policy.


BW to draft a statement on EBAAS 2018. 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.  For example we could include panels on how to address the perception that there is a gap between expertise and diversity and how to encourage conference organizers to broaden their notions of expertise.


The conference would be free and open to all. We could explore the possibility of filming/live streaming to make it accessible and inclusive.  The proposal included a budget for up to £4000 to include paying speaker fees to experts including legal advice.


Agreed:  The proposal for the conference was approved by the Exec.



Action:  Circulate examples of conference guidelines and harassment policies of other professional associations (RW)



Action:  Develop plans for the conference to be held in 2018-19. KD, NG and RW


Action:  NG to continue consulting with the Charities Commission




  • Women in American Studies Network and BAAS


KD briefly introduced a precirculated paper. To ensure the network continues beyond the involvement of those BAAS members involved in setting up the network KD’s proposed setting a steering group which would be coordinated by a BAAS Executive Committee member. The steering group would include representatives from our sister organizations in SHAW, HOTCUC, BRANCH, BrANCA, American Politics Group and the British Association of Early American Historians.  This steering group would meet once or twice a year and would help the different organizations to share ideas and collaborate on events and activities as well as develop a programme of events and online network and database of women in American studies. The subcom agreed:

  1. That BAAS serve as the coordinating centre for the WASN steering committee.
  2. BAAS commit to having a designated WASN coordinator/representative
  3. Contribute to funding steering committee meetings
Agreed:  The Exec agreed to the proposals.



Action:  KD to liaise with other organizations to set up the first steering group meeting



(e)  Equality & Diversity Standing Item


ALM reported on the CCCU event which she had been involved in.  More useful than this event, was the recent Scholar- Activism Conference at the British Library.

ALM gave a brief overview of key themes of the conference including discussions with community activists on the “Pace of time”- the importance of scholars slowing down to work at a speed and quality of engagement that did not serve only the interests of the scholar. ALM also raised the problem of the pipeline which feeds and creates predominantly white scholars of African American studies in the U.K academy. The importance of working together with communities from the start rather than at moments of convenience was another important discussion.


Action:  Prepare and circulate full report.  Place the report as the first item of business at the next D&E Subcom in November to ensure time for discussion.


(f)  Schools Working Group


NG reported that he had met with RW and Katie McGettigan, former member of the BAAS Exec to develop a programme would allow BAAS members to bid to BAAS to host teacher related events. The purpose of the programme would be to bring together teachers in networks with academics. The proposal was to fund up to two events a year at £1000 each.


  • Membership Survey Report


The committee discussed the need to publish BO’s report on the membership survey. BO will finish off his draft report and circulate it for publication. All subcom members are encouraged to respond.  The committed discussed where the best place to publish the report might be. MC suggested BO explore publishing it in the Journal of American Studies



Action:  BO to circulate another draft.  BO to explore possibility of publishing in JAS


  • ECR precarious contracts


BW asked the committee to consider a statement about not advertising 10 month ECR contracts. A number of members of the committee raised the question of what criteria should be used if BAAS were to move to rating jobs ahead of deciding whether to advertise them through t weekly BAAS digest. The committee agreed that we needed to explore the issues around ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ECR jobs further.



Action:  Return to this question a future Exec.


  • ECR Report


The peer reading scheme is ready to launch. RW will let the committee know when it is up and running.



  • Website Report (NG)


The committee agreed that NG would report directly to the full executive as we had run out of time.



  1. Conference Subcommittee (LM reporting)

(a)        Equality and Diversity


Revised phrasing of the Targetted Research Panel scheme has been included in the CFP for the 2019 conference, and has been posted on the BAAS website.


(b)        EBAAS 2018


Nick Witham has reported that the KCL finance team have been delayed in closing the EBAAS accounts but expect to do so by the end of September.


  • BAAS 2019


Tom Wright has confirmed the third plenary speaker will be Barbara Savage, Professor of American Social Thought, University of Pennsylvania. The CFP has been finalised and circulated with a deadline of 1 November for panel and paper proposals.


  • BAAS 2020


David Hering is working on a Thursday lunchtime to Saturday lunchtime schedule similar to that used by Canterbury in 2017, 16-18 April 2020. Room bookings have been made, and David is in touch with Sussex regarding reception plans.


  • BAAS 2021


Rachel Williams is in contact with the Hull events team and has identified 8-10 April 2021 as the best dates for the conference, the Thurs-Sat after Easter Sunday, so within most UK institutions’ Easter break. Confirming room bookings and designing a conference website will be the next steps, along with site visits to three potential dinner venues.


(g)     BAAS Postgraduate Conference

The Northumbria team have circulated the CFP for the 3 November event, and the conferences subcom was satisfied with their application for BAAS funding in support of the event.


PG rep Olivia Wright shared the Eccles Centre’s interest in holding a joint PG conference with BAAS in 2019. She will liaise with them regarding the application process.



  1. Awards Subcommittee (SE reporting for EL)

(a)        Awards Applications from Female Scholars


At the last Executive Committee meeting, concern was expressed about the low numbers of awards applications received from women, especially (although not exclusively) for the book awards.  There was a lengthy discussion regarding ways in which we might encourage more submissions from female scholars.  This touched on issues regarding awareness of the awards as well as a broader agenda aimed at encouraging and supporting female participation in the academy more generally.  Some of the suggestions were:


  • Make announcements about the awards at meetings of the Women’s Network and encourage those attending to submit applications. (NB: I mentioned this at the Annual Conference and will look to do so at future events/meetings).
  • Advertise the awards through SHAW and other appropriate organisations.
  • Contact publishers directly to inform them of the awards and ask them to consider submitting books on behalf of authors.
  • Consider holding a book launch or similar event at the annual conference which could highlight work by female scholars.
  • A roundtable discussion (at the conference or a discreet event) on recent scholarship by female academics.
  • Organise an event at a future conference with previous winners of the book prizes.


The first two on this list are easy to implement immediately.  Contacting publishers may be a bit time consuming but is also possible in the relatively short term.  The final three would require some additional planning and work from the committee.



  • Advertising Awards and Increasing Submissions


We have seen an overall reduction in the number of applications for all awards in recent years.  This has been particularly noticeable, however, in the schools, UG, and PG awards categories.  It’s not entirely clear what the cause of this may be, although I suspect some of it may be that our advertising of the awards is not getting to the right people in enough time.  Some suggestions for ways to address this are below, but if anyone has additional thoughts then please do e-mail me:


  • Launch the awards earlier (September) to give additional time for advertising.
  • The posters we send out each year have some benefit, I think, but I’d also like to look into getting postcards or similar printed for different categories of awards that we can send out to schools and other institutions as well as including in conference packs for events (assuming we have the budget for this).
  • Make better use of BAAS members’ university connections with schools to raise the profile of the awards with school students and teachers – possibly starting with Exec. members as a case study.



  • New Awards?


There was some suggestion at the last Exec. meeting regarding rethinking some of our awards.  In particular there was discussion regarding the connection between the BAAS awards and the Miller Institute (formerly Centre) awards offered by UEA – they currently offer an article prize and a first book prize.


Two suggestions came from the last BAAS meeting:

  1. BAAS to consider offering its own article award.
  2. BAAS to take over the first book award.


Either option will require some discussion with the Miller Institute.  At the moment, the Institute is currently looking for a new director as Professor Chris Bigsby will retire from the role in August.  So any changes are currently on hold until someone else is in place, at which time I hope to be able to have a discussion about the Institute’s position regarding the awards.  Again, if anyone has any suggestions then I’m very happy to hear them.



  • Awards Season 2018/19


I will shortly be contacting everyone regarding participation on judging panels for the 2018/19 awards round.  If anyone would like to volunteer to sit on any particular award panel(s), or if anyone would like a change from the panel(s) on which they sat last year, then please let me know.  Volunteers for the book prize panel would be especially welcome (and please note this would be the only award you would be asked to judge).  A reminder of the awards we offer:



Book Award

Founders Awards

ECR Travel Award

PG Short Term Travel Award

GTA (Wyoming – TBC)

Barringer Teachers Fellowship (Monticello)

School Essay

UG Essay

PG Essay

Public Engagement and Impact Award

Eccles Centre Awards


  1. EAAS

No report.

  1. Any Other Business

NG reminded the Exec that Clear & Creative are changing servers and there may be some issues related to this.   He also suggested that the website role may need separating from the newsletter role due to excessive workload.  OW volunteered to take on this role.  Training on the web pages was recommended for the next Exec.

  1. Date of next meeting: Friday 2 November 2018.




Secretary:  Professor Sylvia Ellis / Email:  Sylvia/ Phone: 01913 342570