Survey for members on the future of AMS

The executive committee requests that all members complete a short survey on some important issues facing the society. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has prevented the Marvell Society from meeting in person since SCRC 2019 and which has also brought to the fore key issues of engagement, sustainability, and inclusiveness, the Executive Committee invites feedback from the membership at large to inform our forward planning. This includes the nature of our annual meetings, our relationships with ‘parent’ and ‘sibling’ organisations, our leadership structures, and other important aspects of the Society. Responses to this survey are for information only but may lead to a more formal balloting depending on the feedback received.

The Committee is grateful for your responses.

Foremost among the Committee’s concerns is engagement with the annual meeting. Over the last five years, the number of abstracts received for the annual meeting at SCRC has decreased year on year. This has made it difficult to organise panels and fulfil our role as one of SCRC’s three affiliated societies, a status which conveys the advantages of a seat on the SCRC board and tri-annual selection of the Louis Martz lecturer. Explanations for this apparent decrease in engagement include such factors as site selection, competition with other conferences, scarcity of resources, and of course Covid-19.

The question has thus arisen whether the Society should consider changing its pattern of meetings from annual to biannual. The question has also arisen whether alternative meeting formats (i.e., online) should be considered for ‘off’ years or as part of an overall strategy for meetings.

In the linked survey, you will be asked to give responses to these questions. In doing so, the Committee asks you to take the following into account.

In addition to the advantages noted above, SCRC has always provided an intimate atmosphere for the annual meeting, distinctive from that of larger conferences like the MLA or RSA. This has allowed the annual meeting to take the form of a sustained dialogue among the community of Marvell scholars, a model which remains the ideal from the point of view of the current Executive. Any change to our meeting pattern is likely to have knock-on consequences for the Society’s relationship to SCRC, its affiliate status and attendant privileges.

At the same time, colleagues have expressed misgivings about SCRC’s place in the conference ecosystem, the timing of the meeting with respect to RSA and SAA, and the conference’s selection of sites, which is contingent on the offers of local hosts. One alternative which has been mooted internally but – please let us be clear – not officially canvassed in any way is the Annual Medieval and Renaissance Symposium at St Louis University, which is typically held in June. This alternative has a geographically central and consistent site and a date outside the busy spring conference window. But it is perhaps no more a draw in its own right than SCRC, especially on the Renaissance side, which is less well established than the Medieval side of the symposium.

To help us understand the thoughts of our membership, please answer the brief survey, by following this link.

Thank you!