Minutes — 2023–Berkeley

Minutes for the Annual Meeting of the Andrew Marvell Society on April 28, 2023               SCRC / Berkeley 

Anita Sherman, Secretary

The President of the AMS, Blaine Greteman, welcomed everyone. 

The session opened with the approval of the prior year’s minutes. 

Announcements ensued. Next year the conference will meet in Savannah, Georgia on April 4-6, 2024, hosted by Mary Villeponteux, the current President of the SCRC. The journal, Explorations in Renaissance Culture, associated with the SCRC, is looking for submissions. 

AMS is soliciting new officers, specifically the post of secretary since Anita Sherman, the current secretary, is rotating off the Executive Board. The President recommended that the web site maintenance should be handled by the secretary. The AMS website is currently hosted at the University of Saint Andrews. Matthew Augustine explained the somewhat ad hoc arrangements for maintaining it currently. Then the President nominated Brendan Prawdzik who is a web-meister extraordinaire for the position. He graciously accepted the nomination which was in turn approved by a unanimous vote. 

The President’s Report followed. 

The Society sponsored two virtual gatherings: one joining the International Spenser Society with their Spenser-at-random session (examining together single stanzas from The Faerie Queene and Upon Appleton House) and one solo Marvell-at-random session. 

The identity of AMS was discussed and lauded as a truly open organization requiring no fees. That said, the question of how to fund the honoraria for prize essays written by graduate students is urgent now that the hidden benefactor who secretly endowed the prizes has vanished. While Matthew Augustine suggested that the prize simply be honorary, with no money attached, others demurred. Joanna Picciotto insisted that tenured faculty should donate small sums to fund the prizes. It was agreed that funding options should be explored by consulting Tim Moylan, the Treasurer of the SCRC. Brendan Prawdzik, our newly elected secretary, promised to do this, suggesting it would be easy to create a link on the SCRC website to facilitate donations to fund the John Wallace Essay Prize. 

Then the relationship of the AMS to the SCRC was reviewed and debated thanks to the question of whether the Andrew Marvell Society should migrate from the South Central Renaissance Conference to the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). The President put forward pros and cons. 

 In favor of the status quo, he mentioned the Louis Martz lecture sponsored by SCRC—an invitation that AMS can issue every third year. The intimacy of the conference fosters a sense of cohesiveness and community. We are a big fish in a small pond.  

Reasons for migrating include RSA’s locations (urban hubs like Chicago, Boston and San Francisco that are arguably easier to get to) and RSA’s established infrastructure with built-in mechanisms for student prizes and awards.  

The President opened the question to debate.  

Brendan Prawdzik strongly supported the sense of community fostered at the SCRC. Others—notably Ruby Love and Tessie Prakas—opined that graduate students were far more likely to attend the RSA because of its greater prestige and visibility. At the same time, it was noted that the RSA is a pricier conference to attend with its higher fees and hotel-chain expenses. In the course of the discussion, the number of panels that the RSA would sponsor came up. Nigel Smith said he was “suspicious” of the RSA, observing that it is a “capricious” organization that follows trends and fashions, and might retract its promise of at least four panels devoted to Andrew Marvell. He worries that we will have to “fight for our space” and urged us to defer the vote. Brendan pointed out that the SCRC had hosted 8 panels on Andrew Marvell this year, evidence that the society has more power and flexibility under the auspices of the SCRC than it’s likely to have at RSA. Matthew Augustine offered a brief history of our relationship with the RSA. The issue of where to hold the annual meeting was raised. Joanna Picciotto remarked that we might bypass institutional sponsorship and simply have individual institutions like Princeton University host a conference. Nigel Smith noted that this had happened in the past when Andrew Marvell conferences had been held in Alsace and Rheims so Princeton might well be an option a couple of years from now. The President stated his view that where you have your annual meeting should be the society’s institutional “home.” If so, where should the AMS have its annual meeting next year? 

Matthew Augustine suggested we “decouple” the business meeting from the host of sponsored panels and simply hold the business meeting on-line. This was accepted by the membership as a reasonable compromise for now (although to be later revisited).  Augustine further suggested that we add a position to the Executive Board that would “face” the SCRC. 

The President then asked should the Andrew Marvell Society maintain its liaison with the SCRC or should it shift its energies to RSA. There were 7 votes in favor of migrating to RSA, 1 vote against it, and 4 abstentions. Chris D’Addario, the Vice-President, observed that the June 30 deadline for RSA was swiftly approaching.  [Note: this was resolved as a one-year decision, to be revisited after we’re had a year to determine whether making the RSA a priority for organizing panels is a satisfactory arrangement].

Finally, Ryan Netzley, Editor of Marvell Studies, reported on the journal and the articles and reviews in production. He announced the winner of the Annabel Patterson Essay Prize: “Confused Tears” by Diana C. Wise. He encouraged submissions, saying there was no backlog and turn around was quick: three months for a reply and 8 to 9 months from submission to publication. He thanked his editorial assistant, Rachel Nozicka, for compiling important data. The acceptance rate this year was 62%. The web traffic is up, with most people clicking on reviews. In response the journal plans to expand its reviews and its short essay category. Netzley is currently soliciting submissions: not only individual book reviews, but review essays as well as essays, short and long. If we have ideas for special issue topics or guest editors, he wants to hear them. His main “failure” has to do with securing permission for images to be used in Marvell Studies. He mentioned an image Nicholas von Maltzahn wanted that he was unable to obtain. 

The meeting concluded with Matthew Augustine’s request that it be formally noted that “a tactical decision” had been made to meet on-line for the next 12 months to discuss “the strategic aims” and “future” of the Andrew Marvell Society. A consensus was reached that we need to have a “longer conversation” about this.