2019-01-04 MLA Minutes

Minutes from the Edith Wharton Society Executive Board Meeting, MLA Conference (Chicago, IL), 1/4/2019

Attendance: Donna Campbell, Melanie Dawson, Myrto Drizou, Anna Girling, Sharon Kim, Paul Ohler.

Melanie Dawson called the meeting at 12:25 pm and thanked everyone for their work for the EWS. She emphasized the importance of encouraging our membership to vote for Executive Board nominees.

The following reports were presented to the Board:

Membership report: Myrto Drizou informed the Board that the Society has 132 active individual members, which amounts to an increase since May 2018 when EWS had 114 members. Institutional memberships are now handled by Penn State UP. During 2018, the EWS raised $220 in donations. Since Myrto is now serving as the EWS secretary, she asked the Board to consider nominating and voting for a new membership coordinator. She suggested revisiting the question of multi-year memberships, which might help sustain a robust membership, especially in view of the 2020 EWS conference. The Board also considered automatic membership renewals, following the example of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. Finally, Donna Campbell graciously offered to continue setting up PayPal for the EWS, as she has been doing over the years.

Treasurer’s report: Sharon Kim, the news EWS treasurer, provided the following numbers for EWS funds:

Checking account: $19,903.22

CDs: $7,750.08

Total: $26,733.30

Sharon suggested looking in to moving the Society’s funds to a bank that would yield higher interest. Depending on which bank is chosen, the additional interest could be above $500, which would help fund the EWS awards. Melanie also suggested sending a fund raising for these awards and adding a donation button on PayPal. Further, the Society considered the need for an Associate Treasurer, who could help with the upcoming EWS conference. 

Edith Wharton Review report: Paul Ohler, the journal’s editor, informed the Board that Patrick Alexander of Penn State UP is very happy with the journal’s institutional subscriptions and its JSTOR visibility. He thanked the EWS associate co-editors and book review editor and emphasized the need to keep submission rates strong, especially until the 2020 conference. The EWR will run a special issue on The Age of Innocence in Fall 2020 and will hopefully have a surge in submissions after the conference. In terms of future directions for the journal, Paul stressed that the editorial team is proposing to broaden the range of submissions (possible clusters or topics could be ‘Wharton and Oscar Wilde’; Wharton and Queer Studies, among others). He asked everyone to be proactive in soliciting submissions.

The Board moved on to consider new officer openings. The current openings are three:

Membership coordinator

1 member at large (starting in summer 2019)

Associate treasurer

Melanie also mentioned the CFP for the upcoming ALA conference in Boston and asked for ideas for MLA 2020. Some of the ideas included ‘Wharton and Disability’; Decadence/ Edith Wharton and the Victorians’; ‘Wharton and Satire’ or ‘Wharton and Humor.’

Finally, Melanie offered a report for the EWS 2020 conference on behalf of the conference co-directors, Margaret Jay Jessee and Margaret Toth. The organizers are currently exploring options regarding affordable, on-site places on the Hudson River. They are also planning to organize a day tour in Manhattan at the end of the conference. The Board discussed the need to avoid any timing conflicts with the ALA and suggested asking for a registration deposit before putting participants on the program. The CFP for the conference will go out soon and Melanie asked the Board members to help with evaluating proposals.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:40 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Myrto Drizou

Secretary, Edith Wharton Society