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Minutes of the 2021 International Spenser Society Annual Meeting

Zoom, 18 May 2021, 12pm EDT


The International Spenser Society held its annual meeting on May 18th, 2021, via Zoom. 


  1. President’s welcome.  The AGM opened with a welcome and report from ISS President Ayesha Ramachandran.  She began by acknowledging that this has been a difficult year, one that spurred creative thinking about how ISS, as small scholarly society, could support our community.


  1. New initiatives.  The ISS launched two big items this year. (a) The first was the Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative (IPI), dedicated to platforming conversations about teaching Spenser and related materials in more inclusive ways.  The IPI brought on board its inaugural Graduate Fellow, Promise Li (Princeton University), who worked tirelessly, in partnership with the advisory board, to prepare the “Getting Started with Spenser” event.  That event, which centered on brief remarks about getting started with Spenser in teaching about gender, race, class, and more, welcomed more than 150 people, and will be followed by more such events to come.  The ISS continues to seek funding from various partners (to help maintain the ISS’s commitment to paying for the labor of the scholars who build and sustain these initiatives), so we can move forward with large and small programs and efforts, including generating podcasts, videos, and teaching materials for use by our members.  We are excited to see this IPI continue to grow in the coming year. (b) The second major item we introduced this past year was our Spenser@Random series, which has brought ISS members together for an hour once a month to discuss a randomly-selected Faerie Queene stanza in randomly-generated breakout rooms.  Averaging more than 60-70 people at each event, with requests to continue the sessions over the summer, Spenser@Random has proved to be a venue for community connection and socialization, and for free-wheeling discussions of an endlessly generative text.  More such sessions will follow, and the ISS invites members to invite their friends and students to join then next Spenser@Random happening; Spenser@Random by nature is accessible to scholars at every stage, including undergraduate.


  1. ISS Newsletter/Mailing List.  Our ISS newsletter has been more active this year, and that if you would like to join the newsletter (which is distinct from the Sidney-Spenser listserv), or if you would like to share your Spenser-related events or programming with our community, write to ISS Secretary Chris Barrett (


  1. ISS dues sustain events and programming.  All of these events have been made possible by ISS members’ dues, and ISS members are invited to pay their annual dues as they are able.  The dues confer voting rights for members, and they sustain the society’s activities throughout the year, including upcoming efforts afoot for academic year 2021-22.  High priorities for the ISS include updating and expanding our digital footprint: the ISS is aiming to launch a new site and expand our social media presence.  The ISS is also committed to offering more Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative events.  On that note, Ayesha observed that many of us are, or are close to, folks who are experiencing how conflict is unequally experienced around the world.  The members of the ISS are very much engaged in the study of how those conflicts came about in early modern period and after, and as a society, we want to recognize this inequalities and vulnerabilities, and ensure that our programming reflects a dedication to dismantling their causes.  We are working right now on an upcoming panel on Spenser and indigeneity, and if you have thoughts on teaching Spenser in inclusive ways, the ISS would love to hear from you, so please reach out to any of the officers.


  1. Treasurer’s report.  ISS Treasurer Sarah Van der Laan reported on the Society’s financial health.  She acknowledged that it has been a profoundly disrupted year for the ISS and the world, but the Society has weathered it financially, thanks to dues-paying members and donors.  The ISS has resumed seeking dues (after a brief experiment with not inviting annual dues); as the ISS President mentioned, those dues support IPI and other Society endeavors.  You can join the ISS at any time or make a donation (no donation too small!) via Spenser Online or via or new PayPal link.


  1. Annual elections.  The dues-paying members of the ISS in attendance at the meeting voted unanimously to elect the slate of Hannah Crawforth (King’s College London), Wendy Hyman (Oberlin College), and Namratha Rao (Hertford College, Oxford) to three-year terms on the ISS Executive Committee.  The same dues-paying members then voted unanimously to re-elect Sarah Van der Laan for another three-year term as ISS Treasurer.


  1. Isabel MacCaffrey Prize.  Vice President Joe Moshenska presented the Isabel MacCaffrey Prize to Katherine Eggert, for her article “Ruskin’s Taste in Spenserian Women: Not Looking at the Renaissance” available here.  Katherine Eggert received the award and made brief appreciative remarks, thanking the folks who had been part of the conference and publication contexts of the article’s initial delivery and development.


  1. The annual Maclean Panel.  Vice President Joe Moshenska introduced the “Mutabilitie NOW!” panel, noting this format highlights the community and collectivity we discovered in new ways this past year, as we found new ways of creating and continuing in new forms.  Panelists Tiffany Jo Werth (University of California, Davis), Jeff Dolven (Princeton University), Promise Li (Princeton University), Melissa Sanchez (University of Pennsylvania), and William Oram (Smith College) presented riveting and diverse approaches to thinking the Mutabilitie Cantos in our present moment of change, and their remarks were followed by a robust discussion session, which ended by 2pm EDT.



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Cite as:

"Minutes of the 2021 International Spenser Society Annual Meeting," Spenser Review 51.2.12 (Spring-Summer 2021). Accessed April 17th, 2024.
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