At their spring meeting the K-SAA Directors, cognizant of the continuing increase in the cost of the annual awards dinner, voted to establish a two-tier price structure so that graduate students and unaffiliated scholars attending the MLA conventions would be able to participate in the conviviality of these important professional and social occasions. We hope you will alert members of the profession whom you know to qualify for this diminution in cost and encourage them to attend. Those of you who wish might help offset the additional expense involved in fostering our younger community by adding slightly to your own contribution when you register for the dinner.
The Directors also voted to establish a fund named for our former President Bill and his late wife Stuart Buice to recognize their substantial contribution over many years to the well-being of the Association. The Buice fund will defray expenses of graduate students, independent scholars, and junior faculty giving presentations at K-SAA public events.
With this fund in place, the next decade, with its multiple significant bicentennials, has impelled us to launch an ambitious program of commemorative events under the rubric “Romantic Bicentennials.” A generous, greatly appreciated pledge from a member of the K-SAA Board of Directors ensures us a stable base from which to move forward. We have already mapped out an initial three-year program, in collaboration with the Byron Society, called “Romantics 200.” It will begin with a symposium next May, to be held at the New York Public Library, concentrating on the Geneva summer of 1816 and convened by Neil Fraistat and Andrew Stauffer. In 2017, with a program co-organized by Kate Singer and Susan Wolfson, we will celebrate Keats’s emergence as a poet. The 2018 program, being assembled by Jerrold Hogle and Anne Mellor, will relocate our center of gravity to southern California and, we hope, will produce a major conference on the cultural resonances of Frankenstein. We have received funding from the Delmas Foundation to support the 2016 program and are seeking institutional sponsorship for that in 2018. As soon as we have specific information on these initiatives, we will alert all our members and also begin planning for the rich harvest of the next few years after these initial three.
In addition to these symposia, we envision a further series of networked events ranging widely across important cultural and cross-disciplinary areas for the study of the Romantic age. The aim is a set of initiatives that will serve the scholarly community but that will also include events that reach out beyond the walls of the academy to enhance and develop the public interest in our period and field. Complementing the three symposia, the events will be distinguished by their concern for wider, cross-cultural or interdisciplinary, dimensions of the Romantic age. They are intended to draw focus to the kind of complex interactions between literary writing and other forms of knowledge production and dissemination, sometimes, as with climate change, in ways that resonate directly with more contemporary concerns. But they can also, as with various scientific or aesthetic controversies, call attention to what is distinctive (and often unrecognizable to our contemporary eyes) about Romantic ways of knowing, seeing, expressing, and imagining. Our coordinators for such programs are Jon Klancher of Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh and Jonathan Sachs of Concordia, Montreal.
Such networked events will be seeded, connected, or in some cases originated by Romantics 200. We anticipate that these events might range widely in format, and might include day-long symposia, lectures or lecture series, exhibitions of material held in libraries or special collections (which might then be digitized to allow more widespread public access), and even opportunities to reflect more theoretically on the significance and meaning of this bicentennial commemoration more generally. We would also like to encourage and coordinate performances in music and dance, museum exhibitions, and workshops for high school teachers.
Our hope is that such events will call upon the broad expertise and local knowledge of our entire membership. What we would hope from our members are 1) ideas for potential events; 2) local venues that might be willing to sponsor them; 3) local sources of support, especially smaller foundations or humanities councils, that we might approach for assistance; 4) any concrete ideas you have for outreach beyond the academy. Also, of course, with such an enterprise we are going to need to concentrate on seeking adequate funding. In this aim we realize that we are appealing to a profession generally referred to as the impecunious professoriate, but if some of you are able to upgrade your membership to a higher category, that increase would be greatly valued. Some of you may also have associates or former students of some means whom, if you yourself felt diffident, members of the K-SAA board could contact to garner support for our programs. We would hope as well that, with a substantial increase in both our geographical and intellectual visibility, we would experience an increase in membership that would in turn help sustain this kind of outreach over many years, not just a decade, to come.
The coordinator of Romantics 200 is Neil Fraistat, who will serve as the contact-person for all the K-SAA initiatives: his email address is email@example.com. Please feel free to write him with your contribution to our common endeavor.
– Stuart Curran, K-SAA President