Minutes for Edith Wharton Society Business Meeting, American Literature Association Conference, Boston, MA, Thursday 5/26/17
Attendance: Stephanie Palmer; Madison Priest; Sharon Kehl Califano; Sharon Kim; Kerri Slatus; Rita Bode; Grace Itiola Adeneye; Sharon Shaloo; Lisa Mendelmann; Carole Shaffer-Koros; Lauren Navarro; Alice Kelly; Melanie Dawson; Myrto Drizou
The meeting was called by Melanie Dawson at 12.40 pm. After welcoming remarks, Melanie explained why Paul Ohler could not chair the meeting. She emphasized the importance of membership for the society and thanked everyone for coming.
The discussion moved on to regular agenda items, including reports. Melanie made a point to welcome two new at large members, Margaret (Meg) Toth and Anna Girling. She added that the election process was made more transparent by voting through the list-serve.
Sharon Kim gave the report for the next issue of the Edith Wharton Review. She said that 33.1 would be the largest issue to date, including a newly discovered Wharton play that is introduced by Laura Rattray. She informed the audience about upcoming special issues (2017: Wharton and periodicals; 2018: Wharton and religion; 2019 has not been decided yet; 2020: Age of Innocence). She added that Meredith would be stepping down as editor after the next issue and encouraged the members to think about how to handle that transition. Temporary co-editors will be Paul and Sharon. Melanie also emphasized the great revamping of the journal after the transition to Penn State UP.
Myrto offered the membership report. The Society has 190 active individual members, which amounts to a slight increase since this time last year when we had 184 members. Some of these memberships will expire during the summer and asked members to check the status of their memberhips. Myrto will send Donna an updated membership list and circulate the information for renewal via the list serve. She cannot offer any information on institutional memberships, since these are handled by Penn State UP. Myrto added that some lifetime members keep “renewing” their dues in the form of donations. The President of the Society might want to send another reminder for that after the summer. So far, we have raised $150 in donations for 2017. Perhaps the President can make another call for that later in the year.
Then, Carole Shaffer-Koros gave a report finances, which was a shorter version of the full report at the MLA. The Society has $ 6.833, 23 in CDs and $18575,26 in the checking account (after an uncashed check from PSU, the balance will be $ 17650, 28. Total assets are at $ 24483, 51. She said that we are in very good shape regarding finances, and she commended the Washington DC Conference.
Melanie moved on to encourage members to submit proposals for future panels at conferences. For the MLA conference in 2018, there will be one guaranteed panel on Edith Wharton’s New York. Our proposal for a second panel, co-organized with SHARP, has unfortunately not been accepted as Sharon Shaloo let us know. Melanie encouraged finding a new home for it, perhaps a SHARP conference. She also encouraged members to propose sessions at regional conferences and the ALA. Myrto circulated the information regarding the proposed Wharton panel at the next SAMLA conference, and gave Mary Carney’s contact information for submissions. She also suggested co-sponsored panels with the new Mary Wilkins Freeman Society (e.g. class in New England; questions of authorial influence, etc). On that note, Melanie stressed the importance of cooperating with other societies for panels or conferences.
Sharon Califano talked about sites in NH that would be pertinent to perhaps a future conference on New England writers, including Freeman and Wharton. Other possibilities might be with the Hopkins, Cather, Glasgow societies.
Rita Bode circulated the information for the upcoming SSAWW 2018 call for papers. Melanie encouraged the members to e-mail Paul or her regarding submissions for panels.
Sharon Califano suggested drawing on our “fan” base like the Fitzgerald society to take advantage of how to include local community appeal in future conferences. Sharon Shaloo said this worked at the Newport conference.
Melanie emphasized the 1-day passes and undergraduate panels and added that we should try to make conferences appealing to broader audiences but also keeping our academic orientation strong enough.
Lisa Mendelmann suggested adding a seminar option for the undergraduate population particularly (e.g. MSA); in this case, students get funding because their name is on the program.
Another option would be something akin to the NEH component program that Meredith has done for high school teachers.
For the next Wharton conference, members reiterated the importance of collaborating with another society or organization. Sharon Califano suggested Cambridge as a location.
Alice Kelly talked about Oxford (it would be cheaper to do it in her college). She emphasized that there are no members in Cambridge. Sharon Califano might have some contacts in Cambridge and she’d be willing to explore. Regarding the venue, the original thought was NY, but Melanie said it would depend on the conference director. She asked members to follow through with ideas and encouraged Sharon Califano to follow up with her suggestion.
The discussion moved on to topics for future ALA panels, possibly two. These were the suggestions: Wharton and maternity (Rita Bode); Wharton and technology (Lisa Mendelmann); Wharton’s Liminality; other California writers? (Gertrude Atherton); Wharton as disruption/hybrid; Wharton and Norris (Myrto); Wharton and Cather (Califano); Gilman and Wharton (Stephanie Palmer)
The last official piece of business was a reminder about the Edith Wharton Society awards (Elsa Nettels prize for beginning scholar-not many applications yet; the undergraduate research prize; and the research application prize).
Melanie asked whether there was any additional business. A new member, Lauren Navarro, introduced herself. Following Melanie’s suggestions, everybody introduced themselves and talked briefly about their work on Wharton.
The meeting was adjourned at 1.40 pm.