Minutes of the 2017 Executive Committee Meeting
Bank and Bourbon, Loews Hotel, Philadelphia, 6 February 2017
The Executive Committee of the International Spenser Society met on January 8th 2016 in Philadelphia. In attendance were Committee members Jane Grogan (University College Dublin, President), Rhonda Lemke Sanford (Fairmont State University, Secretary-Treasurer), Tiffany Jo Werth (Simon Fraser University, Vice President), Stephanie Elsky (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Colleen Rosenfeld (Pomona College), Dennis Britton (University of New Hampshire), Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia), Catherine Nicholson (Yale University), and Andrew Wadoski (Oklahoma State University).
Ex officio: Ayesha Ramachandran (Yale University, SCSC liaison), JK Barret (University of Texas, Austin, RSA liaison).
- Minutes and matters arising. The minutes from the 2016 Executive Committee meeting were approved. The committee thanked Stephen Guy-Bray for organizing the Society sponsored MLA panel: “New Directions in Spenser Studies”; and Melissa Sanchez and Tiffany Jo Werth, who co-organized a co-sponsored panel with the Milton Society of America on “Race, Religion and Form in Spenser and Milton.” Both panels were well attended with about 35 audience members at each.
- Treasurer’s Report. Rhonda Lemke Sanford gave the 2016 Treasurer’s report in full; it was also delivered on 7thth January at the Spenser Luncheon/AGM. For the details of the Society’s current financial holdings, please email the Secretary-Treasurer directly. In addition, the Treasurer reported on a cyber fraud attack perpetrated on the Society involving a fraudulent payment to an entity posing as a vendor. The details of this fraud have been reported the FBI and the Irish police (although the fraud happened in the US, an Irish email was spoofed) as well as Joe Manchin, the relevant US senator. In addition, the IT departments of Fairmont State University and University College Dublin have investigated the incident. While the Society continues to pursue all possible recourses for resitution, it has also taken precautionary steps including a changed bank account and a new financial protocol requiring any payments to be signed off on by at least two officers (i.e. Treasurer, VP and President). Questions were raised regarding publishing Society funds online and the Executive determined that the Society explore the Best Practices of other Societies regarding the public reporting of funds.
- Session topics and organizers. It was agreed to table for next year further discussion around governance issues and term limits for ex officio members; Ayesha Ramachandran expressed her desire to cycle off the SCSC committee next year but reiterated the importance of having an established relationship with the societies for future officers. The Committee discussed potential session topics for SCSC 2017 (2 panels plus a roundtable plenary), RSA 2018 (up to 5 panels) and MLA 2018 (1 panel; deadline 28th Feb 2017). Topics agreed were as follows: SCSC 2017 (organized by Ayesha) “Spenser and Historicism,” “Spenser’s Social Networks” and for the roundtable, “Spenser and / in Performance”; RSA (to be organized by Colleen Rosenfeld and JK Barret), “Spenser’s Pleasures” and “Spenser and Allegory”; MLA (to be organized by Stephen Guy-Bray), “Spenser and Machines.” It was also agreed that the Committee seek additional joint sessions in the future to further increase Society reach including a plan to seek a likely partner for a joint panel on “Spenser and Digital Humanities” at the 2018 MLA. Additional topics discussed included “Philosophical Poetics” and “Experiments in Criticism/Weird Spenser.”
- Selection of judges for Society prizes. The Executive Committee thanked Stephen Guy-Bray and Catherine Nicholson for their heroic reading of a bumper crop of 84 essays from 2014-2015; Stephen Guy-Bray agreed to stay on as judge for books published in 2015-2016; Dennis Britton agreed to serve as judge. The vice president will continue to oversee the committee. There was discussion around establishing terms and conditions for what counts as a book on Spenser. It was agreed that the prize committee would take up the question and report back to the Committee. A move was also approved to nominate a Colin Clout recipient for 2018.
- Nomination of three new committee members. The terms of committee members Colleen Rosenfeld, Stephanie Elsky and Craig Berry, came to an end after this MLA meeting. Following the new protocol of nominations in advance for voting, 17 names were put forward from the committee. New members nominated by the Executive Committee and elected at the luncheon are Sarah Van Der Laan (Comparative Literature, Indiana University Bloomington), the 2016 MacCaffrey prize winner, Thomas Ward (U.S. Naval Academy), and Julian Yates (University of Delaware).
- Update on The Spenser Review. Jane Grogan reported that following the nominations of the subcommittee (with thanks to David Baker, Dennis Britton, and Andrew Wadoski), following the Fall issue 2017 Dr. Andrew Hadfield and Dr. Jane Grogan will assume status as co-editors.
- Next International Spenser Society conference in 2020. It was agreed to seek bids and proposals this year to be voted on in next year’s meeting (2018). It was noted that the Dublin conference in 2015 had around 160-170 attendees. It was agreed to circulate a template and to seek nominations from members through the Spenser Review and the list-serve.
- ISS-Shakespeare’s Globe collaboration, 12-13 June 2017. Jane Grogan reported on the new collaboration between ISS and Shakespeare’s Globe, to be held at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, 12-13 June 2017. The Society was thanked for its contribution of 3000 sterling towards the cost of the event (venue hire, performance costs, catering and recording costs). The program is almost finalized, and will be advertised through the list-serve and other outlets by the end of January 2017. It comprises a two-day exploratory symposium on “Spenser, Poetry and Performance,” in the form of focused facilitated expert discussion and short papers, as well as a “Research-in-Action” workshop in the Sam Wanamaker Theatre on the evening of 12th June. Additional funding was received form Simon Fraser University and University College Dublin.
- Strategies for increasing ISS reach in the scholarly community. Tiffany Jo Werth urged that members consider connections they may have with other scholarly organizations for future co-sponsored panels. It was also suggested that the RSA social hour be revisited and further social events to be considered.
- Dissertation/graduate paper prizes. Tiffany Jo Werth reported on an initiative for instituting a graduate paper prize sponsored by the International Spenser Society. A sub-committee composed of Andrew Wadoski and Catherine Nicholson agreed to discuss sponsorship, terms, and potential funding or endowment for this prize. JK Barret and Ayesha Ramachandran offered to serve as ex officio advisors to the sub-committee. Stephanie Elsky agreed to adjudicate the first prize to be awarded in 2018 from submitted conference papers by graduate students given during 2016-2017.
- All Other Business. It was agreed to table further discussion of the potential of moving the AGM, Committee meeting and MacLean lecture to RSA or another scholarly conference venue; but concerns were again raised given the shrinking numbers at MLA, the greater number of ISS panels at RSA, and the increased potential to internationalize the membership and committee of the ISS by such a move.
Jane Grogan announced that this year’s Hugh MacLean Memorial Lecture by Prof. Anne Coldiron, to take place 12-2pm Saturday 7th January 2017 at Amada, 217-19 Chestnut St, Philadelphia PA 19106 had to be cancelled due to a family emergency. Instead, the Committee asked former Society President David Lee Miller, current President Jane Grogan, Committee Member Stephen Guy-Bray, and ex officio member Ayesha Ramachandran to read and frame selected passages from Spenser’s works.
Respectfully submitted, 12th January 2017,
Tiffany Werth, Vice-President