DRAFT of Minutes, Edith Wharton Society (EWS) Business Meeting Saturday, 5 January 2013
8:30 am Westin Copley Place, Boston, Massachusetts, The Restaurant at Bar 10
Present: Gary Totten, Meredith Goldsmith, Emily Orlando, Jennifer Haytock, Carole Shaffer-Koros, Ann L. Patten, Donna Campbell, Sharon Kehl Califano, and Melanie Dawson.
Incoming Society President Meredith Goldsmith called the breakfast meeting to order. In the absence of incoming Secretary Paul Ohler, Emily Orlando offered to take the minutes.
Emily made a brief report on the “Edith Wharton in Florence” conference. Beginning in fall 2008, shortly after the Pittsfield conference, Emily and Meredith worked steadily to launch and co-direct the 2012 international EWS conference: “Edith Wharton in Florence” (EWiF) which took place in Italy 6-8 June at Marist-Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute (LdM) in the heart of Florence. This was the third EWS conference set overseas and the first in Italy, where Wharton lived as a youth and returned regularly as an adult. Thanks to a year-long promotional campaign and a significant web presence, Emily and Meredith received a record number of submissions. A panel of six Wharton scholars assisted with the selection of abstracts and organizing panels. Sharon Kehl Califano and Laura Rattray worked diligently to put the program together. At the conference, Emily and Meredith introduced keynote speaker Donna Campbell, chaired two panels each, and each presented a paper. They also oversaw all meals and events, including the keynote and special guest speakers Lev Raphael and Jennie Fields, and regularly posted highlights on the conference Facebook page and Twitter feed (both of which, thanks to Donna’s help, were interfaced with the conference’s WordPress page). The three-day conference assembled approximately 110 scholars of every rank from around the globe. Shortly after the conference concluded, Emily and Meredith extended their thanks in writing (via U.S. mail) to Dr. Thomas Wermuth, Marist College Provost, who generously lent the Marist-LdM site to the Society, with thanks also sent to Judith Saunders of Marist College. Gary had also asked conference registrants to e-mail Dr. Wermuth their thanks. Emily and Meredith also shared copies of fiction by Wharton and James, translated into Italian, with Brad Miller and Carla Guarducci, the LdM contacts on site who offered tireless help and support throughout the conference.
Carole Shaffer-Koros, EWS Treasurer, reported on the financials. At present, the EWS has online banking and its assets, including checking and 7 CDs, is $30,717.49. This amounts to approximately $2,000 more than January of 2012. “Things look good,” Carole reported.
Meredith, as new Editor of the Edith Wharton Review, reported on the status of the journal. Meredith has had good support from Print-Tech, our printers. Meredith and her editorial assistant are researching re-design and competitive quotes for the printer, which they plan to present at ALA. Emily was recently asked and has agreed to serve as Book Review Editor as of Issue 29.2. Meredith indicated that she would like to add to the journal a “From the Archives” section. Gary will be guest editing a special issue of the journal on “Teaching Wharton’s Late Fiction” (29.1). Carole asked that the journal please mention Kean University as we are using its tax ID #.
The next item of business was to consider Laura Rattray’s request to the Society for financial support of a Fall 2013 symposium celebrating the centenary of The Custom of the Country. Gary had circulated the proposal to all board members in early December via e-mail. The two-day event would take place at Liverpool Hope University. Laura and her co-director, William Blazek, requested $1500 of support. The board discussed the matter at length and agreed to pledge $750 in support of the symposium. Gary motioned and Meredith seconded the motion.
The board then returned to the issue of the Edith Wharton Review. If the EWS agrees to give Proquest a complimentary subscription, then the Edith Wharton Review would be available online.
Meredith and Ann discussed the journal’s engagement with the topic of digital humanities. Donna offered to chair a committee focused on the topic. Melanie and Sharon agreed to work on the committee. Meredith also reported that the EWR is considering having one “special issue” each year and one “hybrid issue.”
With regard to the next EWS conference, 2015 was presented as a target date. Melanie suggested Bard College as a possible site as the institution is accustomed to working with societies and also because of its Whartonian locale, on the Hudson. The board discussed the other proposed sites—Hyères and Paris, proposed by Aurelie Dell’olio and Ferda Asya respectively. Emily enthusiastically expressed support of a conference in Paris. Meredith and Emily also mentioned that they, along with Gary, had been approached at the Edith Wharton in Florence conference by Patricia Fra-Lopez and Teresa Gomez Reus about a possible conference in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the target date of which was around 2016. Gary also mentioned that he had discussed with Jennie Kassanoff the possibility of an EWS conference in New York City. Donna proposed that the next Society conference ought to be in the United States given that the majority of members are based in the U.S. Donna also suggested “piggy-backing” onto the ALA (American Literature Association) conference—i.e., holding a conference in the same ALA city immediately following Memorial Day weekend. At present, the board does not have a volunteer to direct the next EWS conference in the US. Emily suggested that, in light of the amount of work involved in organizing a conference, it would be best to have co-directors as with EWiF.
On the topic of Edith Wharton’s grave in France and its restoration, Carole reported that she sent a deposit on behalf of the EWS which amounted to 40% of the cost to restore the grave. Julie Olin-Ammentorp planned to visit the grave and take a photo. Gary had set up a PayPal link for donations to the restoration of the grave.
The board also discussed making the webmaster (currently Donna Campbell) officially part of the EWS board. It was noted that we may need to propose a change to the Society’s constitution. Shortly thereafter, the meeting concluded.
Emily Orlando, former Secretary and incoming Vice President, EWS