Minutes 2019 – Lubbock, Texas

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Members present: President Matthew Augustine; Vice President Joanna Picciotto; Past President Alex Garganigo; President Emeritus Nigel Smith; Editor-in-Chief Ryan Netzley; Members-at-large Patrick Delehanty; Douglas DePalma; Geoffrey Emerson; Madeline Lesser; Ruby Lowe; Kevin Ogunniyi; Brendan Prawdzik; Jonathan Sawday; Nadine Weiss

Meeting called to order by President Augustine at 8:35 AM.

I. President’s Report

President Augustine reported in some detail on the discussions which took place at the SCRC executive dinner on Thursday (11 April 2019), focusing in particular on two issues, both of which had been subject to extensive discussion over email in the weeks leading up to the conference. The first topic (a) was the breaching of SCRC’s website and the remedies undertaken in the wake of this breach. The second topic (b) included losses incurred by the previous year’s meeting and matters arising therefrom.

a) It was reported that under the oversight of the former webmaster of SCRC, a total security breach of the website occurred; personal information was compromised and administrative access to the site frozen. The former webmaster claimed the server provider had ceased operating and that she was unable to regain administrative access to the site and secure the breach. She then ceased all communication with the board. This breach effectively rendered SCRC’s web presence null. With the pressing need to publicise the annual meeting, the former webmaster was relieved of her duties and Brendan Prawdzik appointed in her place. Professor Prawdzik was able to design a new website hosted by Penn State in time for the annual meeting to be advertised; he also designed the registration tools for the conference. Professor Prawdzik was duly thanked by the executive committee of SCRC and will continue in the role of webmaster. Assurances were given that best practices in web security and management would be observed by future webmasters and that the executive committee of SCRC would exercise oversight in this regard.

b) The other pressing issue was the significant operating loss incurred by the previous year’s annual meeting in Atlanta. The loss was reported to have arisen from insufficient scrutiny of contracts with the hotel and other vendors, particularly for IT support. President Augustine indicated that he had expressed serious misgivings about oversight of the Conference in view of two such administrative miscarriages in a short space of time. Further discussion at the SCRC executive dinner revealed underlying operating issues which bear consideration by members of AMS. The president of SCRC explained that meetings in urban centres not associated with an affiliate campus tended to produce operating losses (though on a smaller scale than Atlanta) due to the higher cost of conference hotels and the loss of host subsidies. The meeting in Lubbock, held on Texas Tech’s campus, was expected to be solvent. But it was also acknowledged that abstracts received and conference registrations for Lubbock were down more than 10 per cent from the previous meetings in Atlanta and Austin. President Augustine noted that AMS submissions were notably down, especially among more senior scholars, and that this was likely due to the inconvenience of making multiple flight connections to reach Lubbock. He emphasised that the Marvell Society, like SCRC’s two other affiliate societies, was national and international in outlook, and that a decisive move to hold SCRC at regional hubs would inevitably put pressure on AMS’s partnership with the Conference. The executive committee of SCRC expressed its strong desire to find workable compromises in managing the Conference’s dual identity as both regional and international in scope.

President Augustine offered thanks to several members who had gone above and beyond in supporting this year’s meeting: Vice-President Picciotto, for her superb efforts as a recruiter and as a respondent to papers; Professor Ryan Netzley, for his ambassadorship as editor of the journal; Professor Prawdzik, for his heroic efforts as emergency webmaster; Professor Nigel Smith, for agreeing to give a keynote talk at short notice; and Professor Steven Zwicker, for guest judging this year’s Wallace Prize.

II. Editor-in-Chief’s Report

Professor Netzley reported on the previous year’s rates of submission, acceptance, and publication and on views and downloads of published articles as appear in OLH’s annual summary of journal activity. He remarked the high quality of recently published articles but equally the need to boost submissions to the journal through word of mouth. Plans for 2019 included the recently published special issue on ‘Marvell and Theory’ co-edited by Professor Netzley and Professor Ben Labreche and an ‘open’ issue for the fall. A special issue on ‘Marvell in Manuscript and Print’ edited by Professor Diane Purkiss was in the works for 2020 or 2021. Professor Netzley announced that Marvell Studies is now indexed in the MLA Bibliography.

III. News and announcements from around the Society

President Augustine announced that planning for Marvell’s quatercentenary in 2021 was underway, with events expected to take place in St Andrews, Hull, and Berkeley in 2020 and 2021. Further details TBC.

President Augustine also announced that selection of the Martz Lecturer for SCRC 2020 fell to the Marvell Society. Nominations would be sought from the Executive Committee.

IV. Future meetings and affiliate requirements

Members discussed the implications of SCRC’s future planning for the Marvell Society. President Augustine reported that SCRC 2020 would likely return to Texas for the third time in four years with Southern Methodist University in Dallas as local host (26-28 March). No host had yet been identified for 2021. The 2022 meeting was expected to take place under the auspices of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Some support was voiced for increasing AMS’s presence at RSA; at the same time, President Augustine made clear that RSA was clamping down on affiliate panels and recommended that AMS members keep their RSA subscriptions current to protect AMS’s affiliate status. An invitation to AMS to organise panels at the annual Medieval and Renaissance Symposium at St Louis University was also brought forward. It was agreed that the volume of abstracts received for SCRC would continue to be monitored and reported to membership and alternative arrangements for meetings kept open.

V. Widening participation and increasing investment

President Augustine stressed the importance of widening participation and increasing investment in the Society and its various endeavours. The Society should strive to become more diverse and more inclusive, in the recruitment of new contributors to panels and roundtables, in the commissioning of keynote addresses, and in the appointment of executive officers and board members; likewise, an effort should be made to build out the culture of the Society, to encourage ‘active’ participation, including annual attendance at SCRC or RSA, virtual networking, and so on.

VI. John M. Wallace Prize

The John M. Wallace Prize for best essay presented by an early career researcher went to Madeline Lesser, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Guest judge of this year’s competition, Professor Steven Zwicker, wrote: ‘The prize-winning essay this year, “Providence as Autopoiesis in Marvell’s First Anniversary” makes a literarily sensitive and historiographical compelling case for “the simultaneous plainness and complexity of Marvell’s views” on providence. The essay integrates history with poetics by reading the “lived experience of providence” within the syntactic and poetic complexity of a Marvell’s poetry—an understanding of both poetry and history as a vision of events ‘continually under construction.” Madeline Lesser’s skilled reading honors what is inchoate and contradictory both within Marvell’s poem and the history that the poem attempts to arrest and record.’

Members present applauded Madeline’s receipt of the award.

VII. New prize

President Augustine made a motion to consider the founding of a new prize to honour the best essay published in Marvell Studies. His suggestion was that user statistics might provide the basis for judging the award, such that it would in essence go to the most read essay in a given issue of the journal. Editor-in-Chief Netzley pointed out that data provided by the journal’s publisher does not reflect unique views and downloads and that statistics of community use were therefore open to manipulation. It was agreed that such a prize was a worthy initiative, and in view of time constraints the matter was referred to the Executive Committee for further consideration.

VIII. Election of new board members

President Augustine thanked Jonathan Sawday and Nigel Smith for their service as at-large members of the Executive Committee for the term 2016-19.

President Augustine nominated Giulio Pertile (University of St Andrews) and Madeline Lesser (UC Berkeley) as members-at-large for the term 2019-22. Members present unanimously approved these appointments.

IX. Any other business

There was no other business.

President Augustine adjourned the meeting at 9:05 AM.