2017-01-06 MLA Minutes

EWS Board Meeting Minutes

MLA Convention, Philadelphia January 6, 2017

12:00-1:25 pm

Attending: Melanie Dawson, Myrto Drizou, Jennifer Haytock (via Skype, until item 7), Sharon Kim, Paul Ohler, Emily Orlando, Carole Shaffer-Koros, Madeleine Vala

  1. Appointment of secretary for minutes (Jennifer via Skype until item 7, then Melanie)
  1. Approval of minutes from last Executive Board meeting on June 1, 2016
  1. Business arising from minutes

Carole: The EWS has filing tax status as 990E card because our income is low enough; therefore, we do not have to submit extensive tax reports. We are a tax-exempt organization and contributions are tax-deductible.

The New York Historical Society, mentioned at the last meeting as a possible site for a conference, is not located close to hotels or restaurants and has no meeting rooms.

  1. Reports
  2. President’s report: acknowledgements, EWS Awards and deadline; defining of co-treasurer roles under new bylaws

Paul: Welcome and thank you. Thanks to Emily Orlando for her service to the society as outgoing president. Recognition of new members, Madeleine Vala.

We should be sure to encourage students to submit to our essay contests.

Emily: We campaigned for the awards more aggressively last year and had a good turnout. It was a good idea to combine the two research awards (one at the Mount, one at the Beinecke) into one research award for archival research. Also, we need to remember that this year we need to renew our status as an MLA affiliated organization; this does not need to be done every year.

Paul: the role of co-treasurers is evolving. At the moment it’s unclear how the duties are split. Having co-treasurers will be more important in conference years when there are more responsibilities. In the meantime, the more experienced co-treasurer will teach the new co-treasurer how the finances work.

Melanie: we were grateful to have two treasurers during the conference. We should also remember what happened to another organization when they found that their new treasurer couldn’t access funds for a period of time. Having two treasurers with their names on all accounts means that we’ll never have a gap in access. It’s about continuity.

  1. Final report on the Edith Wharton in Washington conference (Melanie/Jennifer)

Melanie: thanks to everyone for their willingness to pitch in; it was a lot of work, and the many people who contributed made it happen.

We had 101 attendees total, including 9 undergrads, 12 days passes (some of which were multi-day; these passes were mostly for parents/friends and one or two local people with a general interest in Wharton. Day passes are not for non-presenting scholars); 16 grad students; and 64 professional scholars. We see the number of graduate students as a sign that we pitched the registration fee appropriately for grads.

Also of note: approximately 30 people signaled their intent to participate by sending a proposal and then dropped out often due to lack of funding. An additional 8 people canceled in the week leading up to the conference. Future directors might find this information helpful.
Jennifer: we may also want to think about how to increase the number of professional scholars in order to keep Wharton scholarship healthy. We recognize that unforeseen conflicts with other author societies, such as the Cather Society, which announced its conference dates days after we did, and the close timing with ALA may have diminished attendance.

Melanie: we may want to consider not holding a panel at ALA in EWS Conference years.

  1. Edith Wharton Review update (Paul and Sharon)

Paul: received a document from Meredith that he’ll email later. He read a portion: the new issue from U Penn is now out; the TOC is on the EWS website. Meredith would like to collect paragraphs by multiple generations of scholars as a tribute to Elsa Nettels.

Journal costs will be detailed in the forwarded email. So far the journal has received 3800 hits on JSTOR, which is excellent; the journal is receiving enhanced visibility.

See Meredith’s report at the end.

Paul and Sharon will continue as co-editors as we move to two issues a year. We may see more special issues. Thank you to Myrto for taking on the role of book review editor, replacing Emily.

EWR 33.2 will be Meredith’s last, so we need to consider the future of the journal.

Sharon: The EWR is planning a special issue on The Age of Innocence.

  1. Membership Coordinator report (Myrto)

Last December we had 183 individual memberships and 37 institutional memberships. We now have 180 memberships; membership is constant, though we saw a surge last year in the number of members who paid their full dues. Many conference presenters were already members of the Society, but some had not paid in years.

In December 2016, Myrto emailed almost every member with a reminder to renew, about 20% of whom did so right away. The membership list will soon be posted on the website so individuals can check if they’re up to date.

We have 63 lifetime members—about a third of our membership—who do not pay annual dues though they sometimes make donations. When the President asks for donations, many people respond positively. Last year we had $200 in donations and we’ve had more in other years.

  1. Treasurer’s report (Carole)

[see also submitted documents, which inaccurately include $500 which was a payment from Ursinus for the journal]

Carole: the conference lost $2033 which is fine considering that another conference, about the same size, lost $4000.

We cashed two CDs to pay for the conference. We now have a lot of money in cash; Carole has not yet determined what to do with it, though funding a travel grant or grants to future conferences might be a wise expenditure.

Melanie: What about the membership dues in 2016? How does the Society assess their role in the conference budget?  We did not count dues in this tally.

Mytro: We had more money coming in as a result of the conference, for it was a year during which scholars paid their membership dues.

  1. skipped until end.
  1. (Paul) Discussion of executive board member nominations, board size, and ideas regarding next society secretary

Paul: we should casually consider who we might reach out to for positions on the board. We’ll need a new secretary in two years and will be on the look-out for a set of conference directors for 2020, which is still a while away.

  1. (Sharon) Discussion of endowed fund and the possibility of Wharton-oriented tour in NYC if that is the site of the conference.

Sharon: has spoken with an architectural historian, Frances Maroney, who has agreed to help with a conference in NYC. He would design a tour of NYC and possibly help with a location. Sharon has his contact information.

Sharon: The society may still take up the idea of an endowed fund for future expenditures or of permanently restricted CDs, which would fund the awards, even in lean years.  Some online banks offer rates of 1.8 (and greater, if interest rates rise), which we might consider.

Sharon: Raising money in the Berkshires, near the Mount, might also be a good idea.

Melanie: If we do so, then we might consider having a Wharton weekend, or a series of scholarly talks pitched to a general audience, maybe 4 or 5 in a afternoon or series of afternoons.  My institution does something like this for Parents’ Weekend, and it is very successful.  If we want the public to contribute to the Wharton society, then we really need to show them more of what we do as scholars.  My suggestion would be to try to target a few consecutive days during the summer months and make it a big open event, working closely with the Mount, if the Mount is interested.

  1. (Paul) discussion of ALA panel proposal process and solicitation of ideas for 2018 MLA and ALA panel ideas

We will be thinking about MLA panel topics soon, so email Paul with proposals.  Also, at ALA the VP proposes a panel (which Melanie has done for this year); the second panel this year has fallen through.  It is a lesser-known fact, but any EWS member can propose the second panel, and we need to publicize the information for the future.  We don’t want to lose our second affiliated panel, which we did also in 2016 because of the EWW conference.

Melanie: In preparation for the Washington conference, Jennifer and I reached out to a number of other author societies, and we had some success.  These might be alliances to forge for the future, for the more overlap we encourage now, the more successful overlapping panels we might have in 2020 as well.  The Wharton-Hemingway panel this year was a big success, as were several others.  Perhaps we might think about hosting a second “overlapping” panel at ALA in the next four years, particularly because ALA is an author-centered conference.

  1. Revisited item 5.

Emily: Made a motion to rename the “EWS Prize for a Beginning Scholar” the “Elsa Nettels Prize for a Beginning Scholar.”  The motion passed unanimously.

  1. Meeting adjourned at 1:25 pm.

The Edith Wharton Review, Report, Meredith Goldsmith via email

Memo re _Edith Wharton Review_ for EWS Board, 1.6.17

  • Our transition to Penn State UP, where we have been supported by an excellent team, could not have been better. Volume 32.1 is out and in excellent shape.  The TOC may be found on the Wharton Society website.  It contained a cluster on Wharton and Sex, an archival piece on Wharton’s correspondence with the publisher John Murray, two tributes (for Millicent Bell and Shari Benstock, respectively), and a number of book reviews. I got a number of emails commending the inclusion of conference abstracts. The Press tells me they have recruited other journals simply by showing off our cover poster!

Costs: 204 copies of 32.1 were shipped for a cost of $2040 for 2016; we came out on time and with a count of over 100 pages. Note: when we return to biannual publication, these costs will double.

Subscriptions through the Press – ie, not through the Society—are as follows:

Print: 22 Institution, 1 Individual

Electronic:1 Institution, 1 Individual

JSTOR: 46 institution

A few statistics: Now that our backfile is on JSTOR, we received more than 3800 page views and more than 2200 PDF downloads.

JSTOR keeps records of how many hits individual articles receives; we had 8 articles from our backfile  receive over 100 downloads.

A final note re cost: I met with Patrick Alexander, the head of Penn State UP, at a conference in October. He explained that the Press is basically carrying us and other small journals until we make money. Working with their team has helped me understand what an expensive undertaking journal publication, especially at our scale, can be. I encourage the Board and future editors to keep this in mind when determining membership and other Society expenditures.

  • Planning for 33.1-2.

We return to a biannual publication this year and are pulling together copy for 33.1-2 as we speak.

The issue will include: a short cluster of pieces on teaching Wharton globally (authors hail from Israel, China, and France, thus far)- peer-reviewed full-length articles, and book reviews. We will be reviewing the prize-winner from last year (quickly) with an eye toward publication.

One important question: we hope to include a Tribute to Elsa Nettels in this volume. Given Elsa’s long standing in the field and her many mentees, I envisioned that a number of people might each share some brief memories (perhaps one or two paragraphs), and that I would pull them together. Is that amenable to the Board? If so, can we start generating contributions immediately?

Staffing: we welcome Myrto Drizou as book review editor; Emily Orlando, who has stepped down from that position, has kindly agreed to join the editorial board.

Special topics in the works: Wharton and Religion, Wharton and Periodical Publication. Any others?

Finally, I wish to remind you that 33.2 will be my last issue with the _EWR_.  It has been a pleasure working with the Society and journal.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Haytock (Secretary) and Melanie Dawson (Secretary pro tem)