British Association for American Studies
Executive Committee Meeting 296
The two hundred and ninety-sixth meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies was held at the University of Sussex, Brighton on Thursday 25 April 2019. Subcommittees at 9.00; main Executive meeting at 10.00.
- In attendance – Laura MacDonald, Jenny Woodley, Olivia Wright, Ben Offiler, David Hering, Rachel Williams, Nicole Willson, Cara Rodway, Chris Parkes, Brian Ward, Joe Street, Michael Collins, Nick Witham, Kate Dossett
- Minutes of the Previous Meeting.
The minutes of the meeting in Liverpool in January 2019 were accepted as a true and accurate record and approved for posting on the website.
- Matters Arising and Review of Action List.
BW offered congratulations and best wishes to Nick Grant and his partner Heather on the birth of their first child, daughter Alma.
JS finalized details of the presenters for Friday’s Awards ceremony (to be presented by chairs of panels in Emma Long’s absence).
- Chair’s Business (Brian Ward reporting)
Chair’s Activities, meetings and correspondence January 26, 2019 to April 25, 2019
BW offered thanks to all Exec committee members for their work and support. In particular, once more, to Rachel Williams, as acting Secretary in the busy run up to the Conference, and to Ben Offiler, who is running the BAAS 2019 elections and picked up a lot of the work on the weekly e-Newsletter as Nick Grant steps aside to prepare for parenthood.
BW congratulated Nick on the arrival of baby Alma.
Similarly, BW thanked Eilidh Hall and Nicole Willson for the special effort necessary to get our accounts and financial reports in order for the AGM and the Charity Commission. Once more they were supported by Cara Rodway. In recognition of CR’s work in facilitating completion of these mandatory financial requirements, the BAAS officers agreed to offer CR an additional honorarium.
BW reported on a meeting at the US Embassy in London with Kim Dubois and Anna Martz re the BAAS-US Embassy grants. The Embassy is generally delighted with how these are being administered, in particular praising the rigour and full reporting of the selection process overseen by Lydia Plath and Matthew Shaw, with excellent administrative help from Katie Edwards.
In the current, 2019 cycle of the BAAS-Embassy Awards, the first round produced 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.
As for the future, after granting two extensions to the original one-year period during which BAAS has administered the award, the Embassy expects to put administration of the 2020 grants out for tender again. As in previous discussions of these awards, BW recommended that, assuming the broad remit remains the same (ie: to promote interest in and understanding of America in the UK) BAAS should apply again for stewardship of these most valuable awards which will, by the end of 2019, have provided c.£216.7k of support to the UK American Studies community broadly understood.
Andrew Fearnley at Manchester University has confirmed Monday June 3 as date for a meeting of American Studies Program Directors (or equivalents) to focus primarily on issues of student recruitment and working with schools. Andrew has worked with BW and others in BAAS on this event and we should promote it as widely as possible at the Sussex conference and via BAAS social media platforms.
Congress to Campus/APG Annual Support Proposal
BW noted that every year the American Politics Group applies to BAAS’s Small Conference Grant scheme for £300 to support its long-running Congress to Campus programme. In particular, the money has been used to defray costs of the capstone event at the British Library and make it more accessible.
The £300 is fairly nominal and represents extraordinarily good value for money as in this is an outward-facing scheme that engages the American Studies scholarly community alongside university students, schools, teachers, and politicians.
BAAS’s contribution, though modest, is always fully acknowledged – even in years when the APG failed to actually apply to us! Moreover, it has strategic value in that, in recent decades, the APG and the ‘political scientists/historians’ cohort among UK-based Americanists have not always felt as at home, or perhaps as valued, in BAAS as they once did.
I would, therefore, like the Exec to consider ring-fencing an annual award (perhaps of £1000) to support the Congress to Campus programme for the next two years (funds for November 2019 have already been applied for under the SCG scheme, but we can make an exceptional award), renewable thereafter, pending satisfactory reports on how the money has been used and that it continues to represent value for money to BAAS.
In making the award, we might not only ask that it be used primarily to lower costs of attendance/widen participation at the British Library event, but also encourage the APG to think about ways to expand further the reach of the programme. Although the tight timetable for the week-long visit may make this tricky, exploring more creative use of social media, webinars, etc. could help.
The APG would be asked to submit a provisional budget to the Treasurers and Chair of the Conferences Sub-committee ahead of the C-to-C events it wishes us to support, but it would not be part of the annual round of Small Conference Grant applications.
- The Exec decided to postpone this decision to the June meeting to discuss more broadly how we might support “affiliate organizations” (such as HOTCUS, BrANCH, SHAW, BrANCA, APG) through ring-fenced money – possibly through a “tender” process granting two years’ worth of funding. The main priority is that there needs to be a robust system of review so that no organization/group receives the money in perpetuity. In particular, it is vital that any organisations singled out for such a scheme demonstrate a clear and determined effort to support inclusivity, equality, and accessibility (and have a good track record in these areas).
Saving/Spending BAAS Money Wisely
Aside from the APG/C-to-C issue, BW also suggested that the Exec might wish to think about raising the upper limit for the Small Conference Grants generally (possibly to £500?), in line with more recent costs, assuming sufficient funds are available.
BW flagged that from 2020, the American Studies community may no longer have c.£80-100k of US Embassy funds to call upon each year.
While it is unlikely that all US funding for American Studies-related activities will disappear, BAAS should start to think about how much of its funds it would need to ring-fence to support core recurring activities (annual conference, PGR conference, Awards, etc.)
Notable Achievements of Members
- 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.
In his final Executive meeting as BAAS Chair, BW thanked all those who have served on the Exec, whether elected or co-opted, and all those from the broader American Studies community who have helped him and the Association in their work over the past 3 years.
- Secretary’s Business.
RW to address:
- Contact details of new Trustees for the Charity Commission and Barclays.
- Possible meeting with Louise Cunningham re: ongoing membership queries.
- With incoming Chair and Co-Treasurers – sub-committee makeup once the new iteration of the Exec is sworn in.
- Treasurer’s Business (Nicole Willson reporting on behalf of herself and Eilidh Hall)
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.
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 24/04/2018)
- BAAS Charity Barclays Current Account £8,902.64
- BAAS Charity Barclays Savings Account £103,720
- BAAS Charity Shawbrook Savings Account £20,521.94
- PayPal £21,620.78
- BAAS Publications Barclays Current Account £22,470
Presentation of the 2018 accounts
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. The accountants advise that this represents 15 months of expenditure (the charity has a policy of retaining 18 months of reserves). The accountants have asked us to confirm what steps we will take to ensure the reserve is being met. CR and BW stated that this figure seems high and does not entirely reflect the operational business of BAAS and its unrestricted funds. This will be queried with the accountants.
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.
The accountants have advised that to ensure a steady cashflow and circumvent any possible recurrence of such a situation, royalties from CUP should be sought in a timely fashion. This continues to be an ongoing issue for NW and EH as communications with CUP are often slow, which has had a bearing on the generation of forecasts and payment of invoices. NW and EH will need to discuss with other officers a way of managing this more effectively moving forward.
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.
EH and NW anticipate that there will be lots of expenses to process in the wake of the conference, exec and AGM, and so ask that the executive continues to be patient while they work through these payments.
- Equality and Diversity
Nothing to report
- Publications Subcommittee: Report from Chair (Joe Street reporting)
Journal of American Studies
Editors’ report attached: key issue: contracts, new editorial manager.
We discussed the issues of contracts; Nicole Willson agreed that they would be issued soon.
Nick Witham presented the JAS report. He mentioned that roughly 38 articles have been accepted by JAS but have not yet appeared in journal form (they are online only at the moment); the increase to five issues should enable clearing this backlog and allow the editors greater flexibility for curating each edition of the journal. We agreed that the subcommittee would support the request for an editorial manager and the increase to the editors’ salary. We also welcomed the increase to five issues from January 2020 and recommended all these proposals to the BAAS Executive.
This expansion would also justify the expansion of the editorial team by one member of staff given the added workload burdens.
Currently the team is made up of two Co-Editors and two Associate Editors – each of those pairs has an editorial assistant; NW and SM propose appointment of a further (more senior) administrative managerial post – Editorial Manager – to share these editorial duties (such as liaising between CUP and the BAAS Treasurers). This could be a professional freelance publishing person – rather than an academic necessarily – to provide continuity and expertise as editorial teams change. CUP have job adverts/templates that could be adapted to suit this post.
Three motions were put to the Executive Committee:
- That the number of issues per year be expanded from 4 to 5
- That the salary for the Editors and Assistant Editors be increased by 10%
- That an Editorial Manager be appointed
All three motions were carried unanimously.
The JAS Co-Editors are also keen to collect data on the history of women publishing in JAS with the aim of creating an online special issue highlighting these contributions. NW and SM propose appointing a research assistant to collect qualitative and quantitative data. KD suggests this could be modeled on the archival internship.
NW will communicate with the archivist at the Cadbury Library to consider how this will be rolled out and will report back at the June Exec. CP and MC to work with Nick on this across D&E and Publications and to report back in June.
Edinburgh University Press
The editorial positions are in flux. Emily West has been forced to resign, so BAAS and EUP have actively been recruiting a replacement to complete her term; conducting interviews during the conference. I wonder whether this might allow us an opportunity to ‘stagger’ the appointments in future, so we don’t have a situation where both editors are replaced at the same time. Would like to hear subcom’s thoughts before proposing to EUP.
JS agreed to write to Michelle Houston of EUP mentioning this as a possible plan.
Report attached: key issue: Website revamp.
We agreed that Mike Collins would gather information from the current editors about the amount of work needed to update the website and on the amount of labour they currently donate to BAAS for their work on USSO with a view to drawing up formal contracts and approving a suitable rate of pay.
British Records Related to America on Microfilm: British Online Archives
Relations seem to have cooled since the conclusion of the last BOA fellowship. BOA felt that it was just too expensive to continue, and are clearly desirous of BAAS taking up the costs. Mike and Rachel Williams will be meeting with Kathryn Rose of BOA shortly to discuss a way forward. My position is that, if BAAS commits to a greater share of the upfront funding then it deserves a greater share of the royalties.
MCollins will follow this up, with Rachel Williams and Kathryn Rose
- Development and Education Subcommittee: Report from Chair (Kate Dossett reporting)
Minutes of the Previous Meeting confirmed
Kate thanked everyone past and present who has sat on the D&E committee- and volunteered to take on some of the many demanding roles: Katie McGettigan; Nick Grant, and Ben Offiler as web officers; Rachel Williams and Ben Offiler as ECR reps and Rachel Williams and Nick Grant on the Schools Working Group. Also co-opted members Nicole King and Althea Legal-Miller. We have done important equalities work- especially around gender but BAAS as a whole, and the constitution of the committee in particular is predominantly white and the exec needs to think about to broaden the appeal of serving on the exec.
(ALM) nothing to report
Schools Working Group
RW and NG have developed a competitive Schools Grant Programme. The Schools programme has a budget of up to £2000 to be awarded to applicants putting on a schools event through a competitive call for papers. There are two grants available of up to £1000 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. All BAAS members are eligible to apply. Deadline 10 May. Details on the website. Very many thanks to Nick and Rachel for this.
Jenny Woodley offered to help review the applications which would make for 3 panellists.
BAAS conferences could also be a good space for face-to-face engagement with schools. The Schools working group will explore this with the Conference Sub-Committee and conference organizers at Liverpool 2020 and Hull 2021.This might include inviting school children onto campus for example to hear the visiting speaker.
Andrew Fearnley at the University of Manchester is organizing a one day symposium on American Studies programmes at Manchester on 3 June.
Tom Alcock- HOTCUS is holding an exam board event.
BAAS Conference policy- item for AGM
Background to the conference cfp:
BAAS Chair received two complaints from members of the public that the BAAS CFP was in contravention of the 2010 Equalities Act and suggested further legal action if we did not change it.
There were diverging views within the executive committee about whether to continue the ban on all male panels. Following some rigorous debate and via e mail among the executive committee, Nick Grant and Kate Dossett sought legal advice from Bindmans, a legal firm specialising in equalities law. Our solicitor advised that our policy was likely lawful but made a number of recommendations:
- Expansion of the rationale in the CFP
- Systematic reviewing data on panel proposals and delegates to its conferences over the last 3-5 years a) and b).
The sub-committee agreed to put the new conference cfp to the AGM for discussion.
Harassment Policy Working Group (KD and RW)
EBAAS reports of inappropriate behaviour on panels-this was reported to a number of us at the conference and ultimately went to Brian as Chair of BAAS-he issued a statement on the BAAS website.
BAAS has ring-fenced funds for the Future of the Conference at the Eccles Centre at the BL. Rachel and Nick will develop it.
Website Report (BO)
Ben has taken over mailing list. Chris will share this role. BAAS still needs to engage someone to do a set piece of work to tidy up the website. Nick was in conversation with Michelle Green about this. Ben will follow up with Michelle and if she is not available BAAS will advertise for someone to fulfil the role.
Related to this was a discussion about job advertisements and HOTCUS’s newly implemented jobs excellence framework. The committee discussed the pros and cons and will return to this in future.
Membership Survey Report (CP- pre-circulated paper)
Thanks to Ben and Chris for their work- in Ben’s case on the original members survey and data report and for Chris who has drafted a blog responding to it.
We had a discussion about how to do more with the report and concluded that BAAS needs to regularly survey its membership and we suggested another survey in 2020 ahead of Liverpool and perhaps with the Future of the Conference in mind. With the experience of having held a membership survey this time we would like to have a series of events/publications/dissemination plans in place ahead of time, so we can make the most of the survey. This might include roundtables that are published through BAAS and associated publications as well as perhaps the Times Higher and U.S- chronicle. A session analysing, sharing and interpreting the data at a BAAS conference was also suggested.
Peer reading scheme (RW) –
Feedback was broadly positive. Those who used it found it really helpful. One colleague suggested having a more senior colleague would also be useful. There is likely support for introducing a mentoring scheme as well.
Women in American Studies Network and BAAS (KD).
The Core Group met in December- consists of a representative from each of the American studies organizations in the U.K.
WASN has a lunch network session at each BAAS Conference and it chooses one of the American studies organizations annual meetings to sponsor each year-this time it is the APG.
BAAS agreed to host information about the network and to cover costs of travel to the core meetings for those representatives whose organizations have no budget
ECR Rep Report (RW )
Rachel Williams, the outgoing ECR representative was thanked for all her hard work
- Conference Subcommittee: Report from Chair (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 Targeted 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)
David Hering (Liverpool 2020 coordinator) will approach the TRPs to discuss what they will do in the second year of their funding.
Olivia Wright reports on the PG conference; she received 7 applications to organize the forthcoming conference at the British Library, and will liaise with Fran Fuentes to finalise the decision.
The provisional date for the PG conference is 6/7 December.
In conjunction with D&E, the Conferences Sub-Com will also continue to consider how conference spaces can be used to facilitate schools liaison work (e.g. inviting school students onto campus).
- Awards Subcommittee: Report from Chair (Emma Long – report submitted in advance)
Breakdown of Award Submissions 2019
|ECR Travel Award – new 2018
|PG Short Term Travel
|Barringer Fellowship (Monticello)
|Public Engagement and Impact Award
Thank you to everyone who served on the awards panels this year. The awards process is successful only because of your hard work, so many thanks.
Once again, a big thank you to our awards partners, particularly the University of Wyoming for their continued, enthusiastic support of the GTA programme, and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello for their support of the Barringer Fellowship (especially for agreeing to continue the award next year despite our lack of candidates this year).
Numbers of applications for awards were relatively stable this year with two exceptions:
- First, we had no applications for the Barringer-Teacher’s Fellowship. I wonder whether Awards and the new teaching working group might work together to try and get the message out to teachers about this award. With fewer opportunities for US history and politics teaching in schools, this opportunity should be attracting more applicants.
- On a more positive note, we had 15 submissions for the book award this year, and half the submissions were from women. So to everyone who helped get the word out about this and encouraged people to submit their books, again a big thank you. This raises some questions about how we might handle the book award in the future, however – see discussion points below.
The Eccles Centre for American Studies took their awards in-house this year and so we only managed our own awards, plus the two Miller Institute Awards at UEA. BAAS made 19 awards in 9 categories (plus two awards via the Miller Institute).
The awards will be announced at the conference dinner on Friday 26 April. Many thanks to Kate Dossett, Jenny Woodley, and Joe Street for taking on awarding duties in my absence.
Equality and Diversity Statistics for Awards:
* denotes the Chair
^ denotes successful applicant (where known)
|ECR Travel Award
|PG Short Term Travel
|Monticello Teacher’s Fellowship
|Public Engagement and Impact Award
|BAAS Book Award
Issues for discussion:
Although it is fantastic that we had so many submissions for the book prize this year, it has caused some difficulties. As the committee indicated, reading fifteen books in a three-month period is a big ask, and is a much shorter turnaround time than most other book awards. The question then is can we change the arrangement to make things more manageable for those who sit on this panel in the future. There are a number of possible options (and the Subcomm and Exec may have additional suggestions):
- Leave the arrangement as it is for now and see if the number of submissions remains at a high level next year. This avoids making what could be quite significant changes to the awards schedule but does risk putting a heavy burden on the panel next year if submissions remain high.
- Consider announcing the book award later in the year with the recipient invited to the following conference to receive his/her award. For example, in 2020, we would consider submissions published in 2019, have a deadline for submission in January 2020, announce the winner in late 2020, then invite the recipient to the 2021 conference. This provides more time for the panel but does delay the announcement/receipt of the award.
- Keep the announcement/award at the conference itself but for the year after the books were published. In effect, this has a similar impact to suggestion (b) above. So for the next round we would consider books published in 2019 but not announce until the conference in 2021. This again creates more time and keeps the announcement of winners alongside the conference schedule but does create a bigger gap between the publication of the book and the announcement of the award.
- Consider changing the start/end dates of the publication year for which we consider the awards. So instead of it being a calendar year we would consider books published between, for example, June 2018 and June 2019 for announcement at the 2020 conference. The downside to this is that it’s not so neat in terms of the start/end dates for each award year which may make things more complicated to manage.
In light of discussions about diversity and representation in the awards processes, it has been suggested that we consider inviting members of the targeted research panels to the conference dinner in the future. The TRPs were not announced or run as awards per se but they could be included under that banner if the Exec. is inclined to do so.
On a personal note, many thanks to everyone on the Exec., past and current, for the last three years. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time working for BAAS and will miss the discussions. But I look forward to seeing everyone at future events.
- EAAS: Report from Representative (Jenny Woodley reporting)
EJAS – agreement with ProQuest. Reminder/ encouragement for BAAS members to submit.
EAAS travel awards – BAAS members have had recent success. Continue encouraging members to apply!
Women’s network held a really successful and well-attended symposium on feminism and techno science. I’ll let members know about next event. They are starting an ejournal which will be biennial to publish symposium papers.
Next EAAS conference: Warsaw 1 May – 3 May 2020
Forthcoming: EAAS Conference in Madrid 2022 – early April, potentially the week beginning 4 April
- Any Other Business.
The committee extended their thanks to departing members: Brian, Kate, Joe, Laura and Emma for their hard work and dedication during their terms.
Members of the committee are encouraged to attend the AGM which will be held at 4.30 on Friday in the Jubilee Auditorium – and to bring as many people as possible to ensure we are quorate!
Sub-com chairs to send RW written reports at earliest convenience.
- Date of next meeting.
TBC (now fixed at June 7th at Sheffield Hallam University).