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Minutes for Board Meeting - April 2013

ACLA Board Meeting
4 April 2013
Toronto, Canada

In attendance: Slaughter, Berman, Zamora, Swacha, Eckhardt, Beecroft, Behdad, McClennan, Damrosch, Hayot (via skype)
  1. Discussion of the State of the Discipline Report.  It was agreed that this fall’s ACL(x) would be built around the State of the Discipline Report, with members of the editorial board meeting there (or virtually, via Skype) to discuss plans, and with panels on themes relating to the Report. Further, the ACLA and ADPCL’s guaranteed panels at the MLA will also be devoted to the Report. Alexander Beecroft will chair the ACLA roundtable, titled “Comparative Literature: The Last 10 Years,” featuring Jessica Berman, David Damrosch, Waïl Hassan, Haun Saussy, and Jennifer Wenzel. Caroline Eckhardt will chair the ADPCL roundtable, “Comparative Literature: The Next 10 Years,” featuring Jonathan Culler, César Domínguez, Ursula Heise, Atia Sattar, and Corinne Scheiner. The editorial board for the Report will also begin soliciting contributions for a magazine-format website, organized around themes to be determined by the editorial board. It was agreed that the ACLA would provide financial support to the Report for the construction of the website, with the goal of launching the site prior to the ACLA 2014 annual meeting. It was also agreed that the ACLA would offer the ADPCL $3500 to support a student RA to assist with the completion of an updated report on programs in Comparative Literature.
  2. Report of the Program Committee (Damrosch)  The committee reports that work is proceeding well for New York 2014, and that plans are in place for Seattle 2015 and Boston/Cambridge 2016. Faculty members at the University of Leiden have expressed interest in hosting the ACLA in 2017, and it was agreed to pursue this option further. The possibility of hosting ACLA 2018 at UCLA was discussed, and it was agreed to pursue this option further. The question of media fees for conferences was discussed. All agreed that AV costs can be extremely high, especially at hotel-based conferences (like Seattle 2015), and that the organization needs to fund this expense in some way. There was opposition to the idea that those who want to use AV should pay a separate fee, which was felt to place an unfair burden on those whose scholarship is media-intensive. Hotel-based conferences could charge an extra AV fee for all members, but that would raise costs to members in those years more considerably, possibly hurting attendance. It was agreed that with ACLA 2014 in New York, we would begin charging an extra $10 media fee for all conferences, setting aside the revenue earned at campus-based conferences for use at hotel-based conferences. The Secretariat will monitor revenues and expenses arising from this decision, and the board will review the policy after Seattle 2015.
  3. Report of the Publications Committee (McClennan)  The committee chair reviewed the ongoing discussion around establishing an ACLA-sponsored book series. Noting the difficulties involved in recruiting a suitable editor, and other challenges, the committee proposes instead establishing a competitive subvention for first books, to be administered by the Publications committee. It was agreed that the ACLA would sponsor two first books, to a maximum of $5000 each, and that the first awards would be made in time for ACLA 2014. The publications committee will work on further details in the coming months. The committee chair also raised the question of the ACLA’s relationships with journals. Our contracts with Comparative Literature and with Comparative Literature Studies will be up for renewal soon, and the committee believes that this is a good opportunity to review a number of questions, including whether it is still necessary to provide members with print subscriptions to journals, whether the ACLA’s support for journals might instead be used to facilitate more ACLA-sponsored content in those journals, as well as how many and which journals the ACLA should support. The Publications Committee was authorized to begin discussions with a number of journals in the field, and a decision was made to conduct a survey of the membership on the question of the ACLA’s relations with journals.
  4. Report of the Nominations Committee (Slaughter)  The Nominations committee is pleased with the candidates it was able to identify for this year’s elections, but is concerned that the late date at which elections were conducted was inconvenient, with the results not known until the annual meeting had already begun. The committee proposed, and the Board agreed, that future elections should be held earlier in the year, with nominations made in late fall, approved by the Board at its January meeting, and with elections held in late January, allowing winners to arrange to attend the annual meeting, if they are not already doing so. Committee chairs were also reminded to bring proposed membership changes to the attention of the board for approval, and to notify the Secretariat as well.
  5. Report from the Financial Committee (Berman)  Joseph Jeon was confirmed as a new member for the Finance Committee. A formal financial report was not presented, as it was agreed that the eve of the conference (when the majority of the Association’s revenues and expenditures take place) is not an appropriate moment for such a report. The practice of quarterly financial reports delivered to the Financial Committee by the Secretariat will continue. There was discussion about conference fees for members from developing nations. It was agreed that our costs can be a significant burden for some, and the goal of encouraging attendance from developing nations received strong support. It was agreed that the Secretariat should be authorized to issue discretionary waivers for conference fees for participants from developing nations, and that the membership website should explain the procedures for requesting such a waiver. It was also agreed, as a matter of clarification, that contingent faculty members should be charged the same rate for conference attendance as independent scholars.
  6. Discussion of Masters’ and Undergraduate Prizes. The Secretary-Treasurer reported that the Presidential Masters’ and Undergraduate Prize committee continues to be frustrated by the small number of nominations it receives – this year, no Undergraduate Prize was awarded, because no essays were submitted. It was agreed that the Secretariat would more aggressively approach departments and programs, encouraging them to become institutional members, and to nominate MA theses and undergraduate papers. More publicity, through email and social media, will be directed towards these prizes. Board members also agreed to make sure that their own departments or programs, where appropriate, were institutional members, and to seek out more nominations themselves.
  7. Student Representatives Update. The student representative in attendance, Michael Swacha, reported on the graduate-student sponsored roundtables being held at this year’s conference, and on plans for a graduate student newsletter. Regrettably, and because of visa issues affecting many of our members this year, the other student representative, Fatma Tarlaci, was unable to attend.
The meeting adjourned at 4 PM, with thanks to Lois Zamora for her service as President, to Joseph Slaughter for his service as Nominations Committee Chair, and to Fatma Tarlaci for her service as a Student Representative. 

Respectfully submitted,
Alexander Beecroft,