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Minutes, Edith Wharton Society (EWS) Business Meeting Friday, 24 May, 2013 Westin Copley Place, Boston Massachusetts, Baltic Room
Present: Meredith Goldsmith, Emily Orlando, Paul Ohler, Carole Shaffer-Koros, Sharon Kehl Califano, Melanie Dawson, Hildegard Hoeller, Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Laura Rattray, Sharon Shaloo, Elsa Nettles, Maureen Montgomery, Mary Carney, Kate Fama and others
Society President Meredith Goldsmith called the meeting to order at 12:40 pm. Paul Ohler took the minutes.
Carole Shaffer-Koros reported the EWS financials. The society account balance is $27,043.63. This balance is lower than usual due to recent awards (1500 x 2).
Meredith raised the issue of the redesign of the Edith Wharton review. Meredith’s student and editorial assistant Sabrina McGettigan provided an overview of three solicited quotes for the redesign of the journal and recommended the Design Barn proposal.
Meredith solicited input regarding the best choice for redesign and execution of the journal. Numerous points were raised, including the following:
· Currently, the journal uses Quark, which is an old standard. New norm is Adobe InDesign, which is better for integrating figures into documents.
· Maureen Montgomery brought up the idea of an E-journal and Sharon Shaloo made the point that a press such JHU could take over publishing. The potentially prohibitive financial consequences of adopting this publication mode were discussed. Note: Carol Singley already investigated JHU, and a print run of 500 was required
· Carole made the point that operating under the auspices of a university press could be prohibitively expensive based on her prior experiences.
· Meredith raised the question of whether the society ought to switch from semi-annual to annual publication.
· Sharon Shaloo raised the issue of portability to electronic format of a newly designed journal.
Emily Orlando is the new book review editor and will be soliciting reviews of books not only on Wharton, but on turn-of-the-century lit, American women’s writing, and topics related to Wharton more generally.
Laura Rattray spoke about research assessment metrics in the UK and the fact that the EWR’s lack of an ISSN created a disincentive to publish in the review.
Meredith commissioned Sharon Shaloo to help investigate getting an ISSN number.
This led to a brief discussion of the acceptance rate at EWR.
Further discussion of the EWR and society membership numbers ensued and the following issues were raised:
· It might be beneficial to move to an expanded or perhaps co-edited model combined with a move to an annual publication schedule.
· Emily made the point that the matter of tiers in assessment of publication is important. The journal needs to be seen in the higher tier of publications.
· Hildegard followed up on Emily’s point to add that a thirty-page normal essay length would put it in a higher tier. Hildegard also addressed the quality of submissions, which could be higher.
· Meredith made the point that the journal format (as opposed to the current newsletter format) is more expensive but we should ask if the membership fee can be higher; conversation about fees came up again later in the meeting and many expressed the view that current fees are low. Meredith commissioned Carole to do a comparison of our membership costs v that of other author societies.
· Sharon Kehl Califano spoke about using Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus to raise visibility of the society and bolster membership. These channels are culturally relevant to younger scholars and may function to bring in more members.
· Hildegard mentioned that it would be possible to put out the message on the main lists that the review is new and improved or upgraded.
· Meredith says people are looking for venues to publish. Addressing fluctuating membership levels, she mentioned that there are currently 123 members.
· Julie Olin-Ammentorp suggested that it might be useful to offer two-year memberships.
· Carole mentioned that when people present they are supposed to join the society. Panel chairs or President/VP might send out E-mail reminders.
Two-year membership might encourage people to stay connected; Sharon Shaloo made the point that the one-year option should stay.
Meredith opened the floor for a discussion of digital humanities and Wharton. Paul Ohler mentioned that he has applied for a grant to fund early-stage work on a digital Wharton project. Paul reported that Gary Totten had suggested that the digitization of the most heavily annotated books in the Wharton library be prioritized. The Mount may be working on this. Paul will follow up with Nynke Dorhout at The Mount. He will also contact Donna Campbell for guidance as she offered in January to chair a committee on the topic.
In response to Paul’s suggestion that the serial publication of the stories might be a good place to focus energy in terms of DH work it was suggested a Wiki could be used as a platform for serials created by EWS members.
Sharon Kehl Califano stated that people could volunteer to oversee the quality of the material being posted.
Sharon Shaloo suggested she could take up responsibility for running a Wiki for DH material. She further suggested Martha Nell Smith would be a person to talk to in terms of her work with digital Dickinson. Julie spoke about applying for grants or getting advice for grants in DH.
Mary Carney suggested a teaching Wharton column in EWR and this was followed up by Maureen’s mention that the society Web site has summaries and study questions, though these are perhaps dated in some cases.
Meredith spoke on undergraduate involvement in EWS. Julie mentioned her experience with three undergraduates doing a panel on Cather might be a model for us to adapt.
Meredith then raised the issue of sites for upcoming conferences.
She reminded everyone about the suggestion made in Florence that the conference be held in Santiago de Compostela around 2016. The subsequent discussion included the suggestion that the next conference be held in the states and then the following one in Europe. Paris is attracting enthusiastic support. Emily stated that Jennie Kassanoff had been talking about New York as a site. Emily also noted that conference organization is a job for two people. If it is 2015 that we are talking about then we have to get it going very quickly and get buy in from people who are interested in going. The efforts of Judith Saunders and her Marist College colleagues in organizing the Florence conference were praised.
Meredith then raised the issue of ALA panels for next year. Some potential ALA topics for were discussed for 2014, a panel on Wharton’s war work being one. Following up on Hildegard’s presentation earlier in the day, an additional panel might center on violence and other forms of destruction. Sharon Shaloo suggested we think about notions of disruptive innovation, fear and anxiety, and new technologies in deliberating about topics.
The meeting was adjourned by Meredith at 2:00 p.m.