Rue 57, New York, 5 January 2018
The Executive Committee of the International Spenser Society met on 5 January 2018 in New York, NY. In attendance were Committee members Tiffany Jo Werth (University of California, Davis, Vice President), David Baker (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dennis Britton (University of New Hampshire), Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia), Catherine Nicholson (Yale University), Sarah Van der Laan (Indiana University), Thomas Ward (U.S. Naval Academy), and Julian Yates (University of Delaware). According to Society by-laws, in the absence of President Jane Grogan (University College, Dublin, President), Tiffany Jo Werth, in her capacity as Vice President, presided.
- Minutes and matters arising. The committee thanked Stephen Guy-Bray for organizing the Society-sponsored MLA panel: “Spenser and the Machine” (which drew 27 audience members); Colleen Rosenfeld and J.K. Barret for organizing the Society-sponsored RSA panels, “Spenser’s Sustaining Fictions I and II” and “Spenser’s Jargon”; and Ayesha Ramachandran for organizing the Society-sponsored SCSC panels, “Spenser and Historicism” and “Spenserian Triangulations”. Tiffany Jo Werth reported that the Society’s status as an Allied Organization of the MLA had been renewed for seven years. She thanked President Jane Grogan for compiling and submitting this document. This renewal is a significant achievement for the Society. The MLA cited “Membership growth, convention participation, and diversity of membership participation in convention sessions” as some of the criteria for renewal. There has been no progress on restitution or prosecution arising from the wire fraud perpetrated on the Society in 2016, but measures including a new bank account number have been instituted, and the Society has ceased to publish its bank balances online. No further attempts at phishing have been made.
- Treasurer’s Report. Rhonda Lemke Sanford (Fairmont State University) resigned as Secretary-Treasurer in November. In lieu of a full treasurer’s report, Tiffany Jo Werth repeated the outlines of the 2016 report and added that the only significant expense in 2017 was the Society’s contribution of £3000 toward the cost of the “Spenser, Poetry, and Performance” event held at Shakespeare’s Globe in June 2017. It was noted that this expenditure was matched with generous contributions from University College Dublin, Simon Fraser University, and grants-in-kind from the Globe. The MacCaffrey and Colin Clout prizes are the only expenses currently planned for 2018. Although the Society presently runs on donations only, it was agreed that the possibility of a return to a dues-paying structure be explored in the coming year.
- Election of new Secretary-Treasurer. Tiffany Jo Werth reviewed the relevant provisions in the Society’s By-Laws and Constitution. It was agreed that the Secretary-Treasurer should henceforth serve a fixed 3-year term, with one renewal allowed. One candidate had responded to a call for expressions of interest prior to the meeting. Sarah Van der Laan was elected by the Committee. As incoming Secretary-Treasurer, she will work together with the President and Vice-President on updating the Society’s financial protocols and records, beginning later this month.
- Review of ex officio roles. There are currently five ex officio members: the editor and book editor of The Spenser Review and the liaisons to the Oxford Spenser, RSA, and SCSC. The Spenser Review has recently increased its editorial team to three, while the RSA and SCSC liaisons are former Executive Committee members who kindly agreed to continue in these roles after their terms ended. To rationalize the number of ex officio members and to address the desires of some liaisons to move on, Tiffany Jo Werth proposed limiting the number of Spenser Review liaisons to one, dependent upon which member of the Review team can make the MLA (co-editors Andrew Hadfield and Jane Grogan, book review editor Richard Danson Brown), redistributing more liaison roles to members of the Committee, and making those terms concurrent with Committee terms. David Baker volunteered to replace Stephen Guy-Bray as liaison to the MLA (one official panel). Sarah Van der Laan volunteered to replace Ayesha Ramachandran as SCSC liaison (two official panels). For RSA 2019, Thomas Ward volunteered to begin to work with J.K. Barret and Colleen Rosenfeld for the Society-sponsored RSA panels (three official panels); he will subsequently take over as liaison in 2020.
- Session topics for SCSC 2018, RSA 2019, MLA 2019.Topics brainstormed by the committee included
- Spenser and Architecture
- Spenser and Performance
- Spenser and Intermedia
- Spenser and the Foreign
- Spenser and Europe
- Spenser and Ireland Revisited
- Global Spenser
- Galactic Spenser
- Spenserian Afterlives (to be shared with the Milton Society of America, perhaps)
- Micro (and possibly Macro) Spenser
It was agreed that the liaisons and Committee would discuss and select topics for each conference over the coming months.
- Selection of judges for the MacCaffrey Prize (articles published 2016 and 2017). The Committee thanked the judges of the 2017 Isabel MacCaffrey Prize for their service. This year’s book prize has been awarded to Dr. Syrithe Pugh (University of Aberdeen) for her book from Manchester University Press entitled Spenser and Virgil: The Pastoral Poems.
- Nomination of new Committee members. In total, four new nominations were required: three to replace Kasey Evans, Stephen Guy-Bray, and Catherine Nicholson, whose three-year terms came to an end with this year’s MLA Convention, and one to replace Sarah Van der Laan, who vacated her Committee place in order to take on the office of Secretary-Treasurer. The Committee reviewed the names put forward last year and nominated four, who were subsequently elected at Saturday’s luncheon: Kimberly Ann Coles (University of Maryland), Rachel Hile (IUPU Fort Wayne), Patricia Palmer (Maynooth University), and Benedict Robinson (SUNY Stony Brook). All four elected candidates have agreed to serve. At the Annual Luncheon, incoming President Tiffany Jo Werth was pleased to announce the nomination for Vice President of Ayesha Ramachandran, who was voted in unanimously at the luncheon.
- Graduate conference paper prize 2018. Catherine Nicholson reported that she and Andrew Wadowski had settled on a prize featuring two rewards: a monetary prize and mentoring toward publication. Andrew Hadfield and Jane Grogan have kindly agreed to provide this mentoring and a prospective publication opportunity in Spenser Review. After some discussion of the parameters for submissions, a consensus was reached that the competition would be open to conference papers presented in any forum, including graduate conferences. Tiffany Jo Werth confirmed that the Society presently has funds for a modest prize; fundraising can be undertaken to establish this as a named prize in the future.
- Update on The Spenser Review. The Committee expressed great gratitude to David Lee Miller for his work as editor of The Spenser Review. Tiffany Jo Werth reported impressive statistics compiled by Jessica Junquiera. In 2017, the Society’s membership increased from 700 to 763. The Spenser Review received more than 273,200 unique visitors working in 22 languages. (Some of the languages other than English include Italian, French, Portuguese, Indonesian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, Dutch, Russian, Hebrew, Swedish, and Greek.) In October, the Review reached a high point of 9618 unique visitors.
- Report on “Spenser, Poetry, and Performance”: ISS-Shakespeare’s Globe collaboration, 12-13 June 2017. Tiffany Jo Werth reported that 95 delegates attended the two-day-long event, while the Research in Action workshop on the evening of 12 June was sold out to a mixed audience of conference delegates and members of the general public. Podcasts of faciliated discussion panels and recorded readings from Spenser’s poetry by Globe trained actors as well as written responses from participants will be available as ‘Scholarly Resources’ on Spenser Online and in the January issue of The Spenser Review, respectively. Shakespeare’s Globe magazine, which communicates key events to friends and members worldwide, also commissioned an article on the event from Jane Grogan, which appeared in the special Autumn 2017 issue. The Committee expressed thanks to Linda Gregerson, William West, Will Tosh, Farah Karim-Cooper, Stephanie Elsky, Tiffany Jo Werth, Robin Craig, and Jane Grogan for their work in organizing a splendidly successful event.
- Next International Spenser Society Conference. Three informal expressions of interest in hosting a conference have been received. No formal proposal has yet been submitted, but all interested parties will be encouraged to present formal proposals by MLA 2019. Committee members were encouraged to solicit further interest from additional prospective organizers or hosts.
- Strategies for increasing the Society’s reach in the scholarly community. Tiffany Jo Werth is soliciting work on Spenser for the SAA in Washington, D.C. for 2019. She also reported that Joe Moshenska and Leah Whittington are organizing a seminar on Spenser and Shakespeare for the 2019 SAA meeting. Stephen Guy-Bray proposed forging ties with societies focused on contemporary poetics and poetry.
- AOB. The Committee expressed its thanks to Tiffany Jo Werth for her expert and efficient chairmanship of the meeting. Tiffany Jo Werth and the Committee extended a round of applause to Jane Grogan for her excellent work as President of the Society and especially for her efforts in bringing the Society to the wider public through the Globe “Spenser, Poetry and Performance” event.