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

British Association for American Studies


Minutes 297


Minutes 297

British Association for American Studies

Committee Minutes 297

The two hundred and ninety-seventh meeting of the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies was held at Sheffield Hallam University on Friday, June 7th 2019.

Subcommittees at 11.00 (Development and Education at 10.30); Main Executive meeting at 1.00.

  1. In attendance

Cara Rodway (Chair)

Lydia Plath (Vice Chair)

Eilidh Hall and Nicole Willson (Co-Treasurers)

Rachel Williams (Secretary)

Mike Collins (Publications Sub-Committee Chair)

Laura MacDonald (Conferences Sub-Committee Chair)

Jenny Woodley (EAAS Rep)

James West (ECR Rep)

Ben Offiler

  1. Apologies

Nick Grant

Nick Witham

Sinéad Moynihan

Tom Wright

Martin Halliwell

David Hering

Christine Okoth

Stephen Mawdsley

Ruth Lawlor

Rachael Alexander

Olivia Wright

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting.

The minutes of the meeting at Sussex in April 2019 were accepted as a true and accurate record and approved for posting on the website.

  1. Matters Arising and Review of Action List

CR offered thanks to BO for hosting the meeting at Sheffield Hallam.

  1. Chair’s Business (Cara Rodway reporting)

Welcome to our new elected committee members: Lydia Plath, Tom Wright and James West. Laura MacDonald has resigned from the committee, effective after this meeting, as she will be taking up a new role in the US at the end of August.  I want to express our thanks to her for her excellent work on the committee, most recently as Chair of the Conferences Sub-Com: her Targeted Research Panels initiative is an excellent legacy.

Much of my recent work has been focused on the make-up of the committee and sub-com assignments.  These will be formally dealt with under Secretary’s business.  I don’t want to be responsible for plot spoilers but suffice to say I am very grateful to everyone who has volunteered to serve in whichever capacity.

No further update on the next phase of the BAAS-US Embassy grants so far. Lydia Plath and Matthew Shaw, with excellent administrative help from Katie Edwards, are currently working through the final tranche from this cycle.  Thanks to Brian Ward for continuing to serve as a judge on the committee for these.

Along with committee members Rachel Williams, Nick Grant and Nick Witham I attended the American Studies UG recruitment workshop organised by Andrew Fearnley at Manchester University on Monday 3 June.  This saw American Studies Program Directors and undergraduate admissions tutors from England and Wales discuss how to improve student recruitment and working with schools. More detailed feedback will come through the report from Development and Education.  There were many good ideas and I think we can certainly find ways to support new initiatives.

BAAS has been approached by the organisers of the next English Shared Futures conference, taking place in Manchester, 26-28 June 2020.  I will attend a meeting for subject area Learned Societies on Monday 24 June and will report back on how we can support this significant and exciting undertaking.

Following up on action points from the last minutes: the discussion about BAAS administrative support with Louise and Katie has not yet taken place but will do soon.

Notable Achievements of Members

  • In April 2019 the Spanish Association for American Studies presented Paul Williams with the Javier Coy Biennial Research Award for Best Journal Article for his article “Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum at the End of Narcissism’s Decade,” published in Studies in the Novel3 (Fall 2018).
  • Kirsten MacLeod’s monograph, American Little Magazines of the fin-de-siècle: Art, Protest, and Cultural Transformation (University of Toronto Press, 2018) was the recipient of the Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize for 2017-2018, awarded at the 2019 American Literature Association Annual Conference in Boston. She has also been promoted to Reader in Modernist Print Culture at Newcastle University, effective August 1, 2019.
  • Simon Newman has been awarded the Solmsen Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, and will be spending the 2019-20 academic year in residence at UW. His Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century’ was awarded two prizes. First, the Best Community or Public Engagement Initiative Award, University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement Awards. 2019, and second, the Research Project of the Year Prize, the Herald Higher Education Awards 2019.
  • Nicole Willson will be starting a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (36 months) at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at UCLan in September. The title of the research project is “Fanm Rebèl: Recovering the Histories of Haiti’s Women Revolutionaries”.
  • Laura MacDonald will be taking up a new Assistant Professorship at the Residential College in Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University from August 2019.
  1. Secretary’s Business.

Confirmation of Vice-Chair and 2019-20 Co-options

Lydia Plath, newly elected to the Executive Committee, has agreed to serve as Vice Chair, succeeding Kate Dossett. This is in addition to her role as Chair of the Development and Education Sub-Committee.

The BAAS Constitution mandates that the Executive Committee be made up of 14 to 16 elected members; Laura MacDonald stepping down means this number falls to 13. Per the Constitution, any vacancies that arise between AGMs may be filled from unelected candidates standing in prior elections for ordinary members. Therefore Stephen Mawdsley, the runner-up candidate in the April 2019 elections, is duly elected to complete Laura’s term which expires in April 2021 (and will be eligible to stand for re-election for a full three-year term subsequently should he choose to do so). Stephen has agreed to serve as Chair of the Awards Sub-Committee.

The following co-options are proposed (for a period of one year):

  • Christine Okoth (Equality and Diversity remit – to sit on Development and Education)
  • Eithne Quinn (Sustainability remit – to sit on Conferences)
  • Joe Street (newly appointed co-editor of the Edinburgh UP BAAS Paperbacks series – to sit on Publications)

All appointments and co-options were approved unanimously by the Executive Committee.

New Trustees elected in April have been added to the information on the Charity Commission website; RW to liaise with NW and EH to update this information with Barclays.

  1. Treasurer’s Business (Nicole Willson (NW) and Eilidh AB Hall (EH) reporting)

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 06/06/19)

  • BAAS Charity Barclays Current Account £4,201.74
  • BAAS Charity Barclays Savings Account £111,701.75
  • BAAS Charity Shawbrook Savings Account £20,521.94
  • PayPal £22,942.12
  • BAAS Publications Barclays Current Account £68,991.91

Presentation of the 2018 accounts

As reported at the AGM in Brighton, 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 unrestricted expenditure (the charity has a policy of retaining 18 months of reserves). We may need to revise our reserves policy (Moffatts have advised, however, that we should not have reserves of less than 12 months).

Recent activities

The mandate changes on all accounts have now been completed and EH and NW now have full access. 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. We put forward a suggestion to incorporate a new expenses system for exec members to streamline the process for all of us. One possible system for this is PLEO or Concur. EH and NW will investigate the most cost-effective system.
  • EH and NW need to change the name registered on the Shawbrook savings account. It is still under CR’s name.
  • Now that we have over £20K in the PayPal account, NW and EH wonder if funds be dispersed into our savings account.
    • CR advises that we need only keep a float of £5K to in the PayPal account, so remaining funds should be transferred to savings account.
  • TRPs – £2,500 is given to each panel, but if there is an underspend we have no protocol in place to ask for/get that money back. And indeed 1 TRP from BAAS Sussex has overspent. NW and EH wonder what the protocol should be in this instance? Given that the budget is made very clear for each year of the TRP, EH and NW do not believe that a case can be made for the reimbursement of overspends.
    • LR agrees that we pay the maximum £2,500 and no more for each year of the TRP cycle.
    • 75% up front, 25% afterwards as with administration protocol for other awards.
  • NW and EH have recently updated PayPal login details. Louise Cunningham has been made aware and has access for membership work.
  • NW and EH to notify accountants about change of officers on Pubs for Companies House (CR, RW, NW and EH).
  1. Equality and Diversity

Christine Okoth is duly coopted. LP reminds all Sub-Com chairs that Equality and Diversity is a standing item on every committee’s agenda – items need not necessarily be passed to Development and Education as a matter of course.

  1. Publications Subcommittee (Mike Collins reporting)

Handover from Joe Street

  • The handover of the Chairing of the Sub-Com was completed at the BAAS Meeting in Sussex. Most files in the hands of the Secretary. Joe Street gave an extensive briefing document to Mike Collins and is on hand to help with any loose ends. Thanks to JS for his service to the Executive Committee.


  • The majority of JAS business related to issuing the contracts for the Editors – which were overdue. This was completed in May.
  • JAS is planning to expand to 4 issues. Fully costed plan. Includes 10% pay increase to editors and appointment of new Editorial Manager. Chair to work with Cara and the Editors to develop appointment documents and contracts – proposed deadline mid-July, interviews late July, start date October 1st.

BAAS Paperbacks

  • Joe Street has been selected as the new joint editor of the BAAS paperbacks series and will continue to report to this sub-com.
  • No formal report on paperbacks
  • Chair in contact with Joe Street about Paperbacks future. New ideas for shorter form books – with a public-facing angle – are under discussion. Nothing to report at this stage. Ongoing.


  • Chair, Rachel Williams, James West and Cara Rodway to meet with BOA at BL to discuss new plans for the BAAS-BOA Fellowship.
  • BOA has moved to a new model of resource development. Called “data led” this means that any Fellow will have different requirements for establishing their resource. The Fellowship will include more training in using the BOA system and be less directly related to the “academic” needs of the fellow – more concerned with training in parallel academic fields such as library science.

N.B Since Sub-Com the BL meeting has taken place and there is now a schedule for the development of the Fellowship, which should launch in the Autumn for work of the fellow to commence in the early Spring – with a report at BAAS Liverpool. This has gone a bit quiet over the summer break but is in hand with Kathryn Rose at BOA.


  • Prior to June I spoke with the editors of USSO (Rachael Alexander and Ruth Lawlor) to discuss plans to ensure they would be remunerated for their work on the journal, which is extensive, but currently voluntary.
  • They were requested to put together a report on the journal’s business and to send it through to the committee with any requests. The requests were discussed extensively by the Sub-Com and included
  • A Stipendiary rate of pay through BAAS. This is a complex issue as there are currently 4 sub-editors plus the main editors. This to be discussed at main Exec
  • USSO to be included in the BAAS Publications Sub-Com with required expenses.
  • USSO to be able to attend the BAAS PG conference – with expenses.
  • Small budget for promotion. Primarily for Conference pack handouts at relevant events
  • An extensive design of site ready for the handover to new editorial team at the end of Rachael and Ruth’s term of service. R and R have been put in contact with Clear and Creative and will be developing a plan for the new site ready for the Winter Exec.
  • The sub-com generally agreed to all these requests in principle, but there was the issue of how it would be paid for – to be discussed in Main Exec. Chair proposed advertising on site, which will be discussed with the USSO editors as part of the web redesign. LM noted that BAAS already have a model for this in the form of the paid advertiser tables in the conference. We would need to develop a list of suitable advertisers to approach. This is ongoing. EH and NW noted that a full business case might required for approval.
  • B Since meeting, Chair has spoken with the editors and discussed these issues. It was decided that a full business case would need to be written to justify any cost increases. This is underway and should be ready by later Autumn for circulation.
  1. Development and Education Subcommittee (Lydia Plath reporting)

LP thanked Kate Dossett for her hard work as the former Chair of this subcommittee. She welcomed Christine Okoth to the committee in her role for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. LP noted that this sub-committee covers a great deal of BAAS business, and the goal is to streamline and prioritise.

At this meeting we discussed the following:

  • BAAS rep for WASN to be Jenny Woodley.
  • Approved the JAS proposal for a Women in JAS research assistant for 100 hours of research time at the proposed rate.
  • Regarding the website, we noted that there needs to be both remedial work and then agreed to advertise a part-time admin role for maintenance of the website. BO and CP to action.
  • Support for other organisations and networks: we agreed a small seed funding of £500 for a BAME network (CO). LP to develop a proposal for a “development fund” for other organisations and networks.
  • We discussed the report from the event organised by Andrew Fearnley. Some discussion of the role that BAAS can play in these activities. Agreed that this needs a larger piece of work and discussion. LP to discuss with RW and NG.
  • Discussion of whether BAAS should formally indorse HOTCUS Jobs Excellence Framework (JEF). CR to discuss with Kendrick Oliver (HOTCUS Chair).
  1. Conferences Subcommittee

Equality and Diversity

The Targeted Research Panel initiative brought people out of the woodwork, and the Sussex organisers felt this work was worth showcasing and funding over a keynote. The 15 submissions exceeded expectations, and funding two new panels every year may be a useful precedent. Future proposals should be required to include explicit budgeting for both years of programming. Going forward the panel organisers should be given the conference support reimbursement form to claim funding, and should be reminded that any overspend will not be reimbursed. Nicole King liaised with Ben Offiler regarding the uploading of a TRP panel video to the BAAS website (available here:

BAAS 2019

Sussex organisers were asked to consider circulating a feedback form though this was raised after the conference so may not have been feasible. Going forward conference organisers should be reminded to collect data at both the point of registration and as a followup to the conference, to support BAAS efforts to foster equality and diversity, and capture date to document progress.

Organisers noted that the payment for hosting a reception at EBAAS 2018 was scrutinised, and that a new approach to launching the next conference may be needed. This funding may be allocated from a School’s research fund, for example, and a wine reception may not be a priority over funding research, given shifting cultural norms and increasingly limited budgets. In consultation with the subcom chair and current conference organiser, organisers of future conferences should establish early on whether the wine reception launch will be a manageable cost for their institution.

Two plenary sessions worked well at the Sussex conference, however the organisers committed to too many parallel sessions, leaving some sessions poorly attended. They encourage future organisers to include a disclaimer at the point of abstract submission, indicating the expectation that successful presenters commit to attending and paying registration fees.

BAAS 2020

All three keynotes are now confirmed: Heather Ann Thompson (JAS), Hanif Abdurraqib (UoL), Fionnghuala Sweeney (Eccles). The organisers are in talks with the Merseyside Maritime Museum to host the dinner on 17th April (Fri night). Hardship funding of up to £300 for UK-based presenters and up to £750 will be advertised in the CFP. Several BAAS members have requested BAME network event, whether breakfast, or another scheduling option. Jenny Woodley agreed to connect Christine Okoth (Warwick) with Tom Wright and David Hering to explore the possibilities.

BAAS Postgraduate Conference

Olivia Wright reported in writing that Tim Galsworthy (Sussex) and Lauren Eglen (Nottingham) were the successful applicants to co-organise the PG conference and are working with Olivia and the Eccles Centre on the event, “Communicating the United States,” to be held at British Library, 6-7 December. Members of the BAAS executive are encouraged to support the event as much as possible, and be visible to conference participant (name badges, introductions, etc).

Small Conference Grants

A grant recipient requested BAAS bookmarks for inclusion in conference packs (funded events are asked to do this but haven’t always follow up to request material). Unless a stock of bookmarks is found, new bookmarks may need to be ordered via Sue Currell’s printing contact in Brighton.

  1. Awards Subcommittee

Nothing to report; CR will arrange a handover meeting between Emma Long, outgoing Chair, and Stephen Mawdsley, incoming Chair.

  1. EAAS: Report from Representative (Jenny Woodley reporting)

The CFP for Warsaw 2020 is in the final stages of approval and will be circulated in due course.

  1. Any Other Business.

Comparative American Studies have just appointed new co-editors (both members of the BAAS community): Tom Rhys-Smith and Rachel McClellan. Congratulations and best wishes to Tom and Rachel on their appointment.

NW and EH raise the question: ‘Is there any way that BAAS can be classified as an ‘institution’ for eduroam access? Those without institutional affiliation (e.g. EH) can’t get the basic eduroam internet access and this is an obstacle for meetings.

  1. Date of next meeting.

Friday, December 6th at the British Library, London. Timings TBC but likely morning with a view to attending the Postgraduate conference which begins that afternoon (6th-7th); Executive Committee members are encouraged to attend and to respond enthusiastically to requests for participation from the co-organisers.

NB since the meeting was held it was decided to hold an earlier meeting to prevent a lengthy gap; hence the next meeting will be held at UCL Institute of the Americas on Friday, September 20th.