Minutes 2020 – Zoom

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Members present: President (now Past President) Matthew Augustine; Vice President (incoming President) Joanna Picciotto; incoming Vice President Blaine Greteman; Editor-in-Chief Ryan Netzley; incoming Executive Secretary Katie Kadue; Member-at-large Madeline Lesser

Meeting called to order by President Augustine at 9:30 am Pacific/11:30 am Central/5:30 pm GMT

  • President’s Report

The short version: Due to Covid-19, nothing happened this year.

The long version: Abstract submissions for the canceled SCRC in Dallas were down this year (11) from last year (14), which were down from the year before that (17). We were able to put together seven panels by adding supplementary roundtables, but ideally we’d have closer to 20 participants. Is this a symptom of “Texas fatigue,” given that this would have been the third year out of four in Texas? This is something to evaluate after 2021 in Berkeley, a location which will hopefully give us a bounce in submissions.

Some possible reasons for this decline: a “south central” organization, despite its national and international scope, might be too regionally focused; Madeline pointed out that SCRC typically falls close to RSA, making it difficult to justify another conference trip (especially for grad students with limited travel funds); Blaine added that many faculty are also experiencing or will experience decreased travel funding, and that there are simply fewer Marvellians and early modernists in general as a result of recent and predicted hiring practices. RSA in Dublin in 2021 may mean some US-based scholars would opt for SCRC in Berkeley instead, but it’s unclear if any Berkeley bump would carry over into 2022 in Tuscaloosa.

A possible solution: looking for another parent organization besides SCRC, and various options discussed at last year’s meeting were considered again. RSA is clamping down on affiliate panels, and perhaps more importantly, the size and distractions of the conference would make it difficult for AMS to maintain its sense of community, or as Joanna put it, its ability to trap people in a room for two days and force them to talk about Marvell. The Medieval/Renaissance Symposium in St. Louis was also raised again: it’s more medieval-focused, but this could mean it would be more likely to accommodate AMS, and Joanna was pleased at the implication that the relative paucity of Renaissance panels would make it easier to keep Marvellians trapped in the room.

More generally, we need to think of ways to “manage a generational transition”: most attendees at AMS events are either senior or early-career, and we need to bring in more people who are mid-career. One way to bring scholars at different career stages together might be a hybrid conference format: roundtables around a single poem, with 5-7 minute papers and then discussion; traditional panels with 20-minute papers (for professionalization purposes for grad students, among other things); SAA-style seminars with precirculated papers.

  • Vice President’s Report

The SCRC board meeting confirmed the Vice President’s sense, shared by others, that SCRC may not be the best fit for AMS in the long term.

There was also some discussion of the saga of last year’s AMS meeting.

  • Editor’s Report

The acceptance rate of Marvell Studies is 17% (“awesome”), but it isn’t getting enough submissions. (Matthew affirmed that the focus of the journal should be quality and is fine with the number of essays per issue being low.) The next issue will be pushed back to August or September, and the special issue slated for fall likely pushed back to spring 2021. Online viewing stats aren’t yet available but will be sent to the editorial board once they are. Attendees were delighted that Ryan is happy to continue in his role as Editor for the next three years, or at least (he clarified) there’s no need to go searching right now.

  • Future Meetings & Events

The dates for Berkeley 2021 were declared “solid” but could not be confirmed. Money is being gathered, and it’s going to work. We hope we will be able to reschedule the 2020 Martz Lecturer for 2021. Joanna raised the possibility of inviting a speaker oblique to Marvell studies, ideally from outside English, to give a plenary address at the conference: an alien plenary, from Religious Studies or Philosophy. Matthew declared himself all for alien plenaries, and the injection of intellectual excitement from an unexpected angle, if we have cash for it.

The dates for the rescheduled quatercentenary colloquium in St Andrews have been confirmed: 6-7 May 2021. In the event of another cancelation, the colloquium will not take place remotely and will not be rescheduled.

  • Prizes

The winner of the Patterson Prize for best essay published in Marvell Studies has been selected. Despite the cancelation of the annual meeting, submissions for the Wallace Prize for best conference paper by an early career researcher were solicited, and a winner has been selected. Both winners will be announced soon via tweet, which attendees pledged to retweet.

  • Elections

New officers have been approved by the executive committee.

We thank outgoing officers for their service: Alex Garganigo is stepping down as Past President and will now be President Emeritus; Steph Coster is stepping down as Executive Secretary; Jeffrey Emerson is stepping down from three years as member-at-large on the executive committee.

We are pleased to welcome Blaine Greteman as Vice President; Katie Kadue as Executive Secretary; and Anita Sherman as board member. Matthew Augustine shall retire into the role of Past President, and we acclaim Joanna Picciotto as our new President, with thanks for her work as Vice President.

Meeting adjourned at 11 am Pacific/1 pm Central/7 pm GMT