MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF JUNE 11, 2007

AT THE BROWN UNIVERSITY CONFERENCE,

“SESQUICENTENNIAL SHAW”

 

President Richard Dietrich called the general meeting of the International Shaw Society (ISS) to order at 10 AM on 11 June 2006 at the Shaw Conference at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  The meeting followed the agenda that had been distributed earlier and was also available at the meeting to the non-members in attendance.

 

I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Dick began by explaining that in the growth of membership we have made “Fabian progress” as our members have increased gradually from 125 in 2004 to 140  in 2005 to 158 in 2006 (to date).   Some comfort was taken in the fact that while most organizations have a 20% drop out rate each year, we so far have had a 10% rate, yet even that represents a hole that we have to dig out of every year.  The real test of the travel grants we give to the young will come when we see if they renew the membership they were given as part of the grant.  A 50% retention rate, possibly less, would make the grant program worthwhile.

 

II. REPORT FROM OFFICERS

A.) Lori Dietrich, Membership Secretary, reminded people to renew in January.  Also to increase membership by making gift memberships etc.

 

B.) Treasurer Lagretta Lenker being absent, Dick summarized the ISS budget by estimating that the current reserve of between $15,000 and $16,000 would remain at about that level at the end of the year, barring unforeseen grants, gifts, and expenses.   This reserve is invested in CDs, that are finally drawing a decent interest rate.   Twelve ISS Hampton-Hussey travel grants were made to facilitate scholars presenting at the Brown conference, and 4 more grants would go to participants in the Shaw Symposium in August.  The overall goal is to invest in the young to lower the average age of Shaw Studies and thus ensure a future for it. Dick estimated that 60+ was the average age of members when we began, and now the average age is in the high forties.  We are going in the right direction.

 

C.) Norma Jenckes, Recording Secretary, reviewed the need for elections when terms of Executive Committee members expire.  Two terms will expire on 31 Dec 2006: the President’s term and the Treasurer’s. Charles Berst made a motion to give a sense of the group about Dick’s presidency and to express the hope that he will continue in office. The motion was acclaimed unanimously. However, this body is not the voting membership and the vote was a symbolic vote of confidence and non-binding.

 

D. Leonard Conolly, Vice-President—has been elected to succeed the founding Vice President Don Wilmeth, who was recognized for his  work for the ISS, which was capped by his organization of the conference at Brown. Len reported that 40 people are already registered for the Symposium at the Shaw Festival in Canada, that the submissions have increased in number, and that 4 travel grants and Bryden grants for lodging have been awarded for the upcoming event.

 

III. PRESIDENT’S REPORT on the state of the ISS and future planning.  D.D. recapped some items from the last agenda as to progress made:

 

1.) The ISS is fortunate to have the SHAW journal as the official journal for the ISS, which allows for a mid-year newsletter for the organization each year, but there is some concern that the journal costs the ISS 3/4s of the income from a standard membership fee of $40.

 

2.) Officially established now is a registration fee discount for conferences (but not, as of yet, for symposiums), which help members recoup the cost of their membership.  This year’s discount at the Brown U. conference was $45, which exceeds a standard membership fee. 

 

3.) An experimental search for grants and sponsorships was undertaken this year by a student of Tony Stafford.  A grants committee will be formed in the near future to move this area forward.

 

4.) In the ongoing search for membership among the long-established Shaw Societies, Dick has met with London Shaw Society and Dublin Shaw Society and found that they were not receptive to joining ISS as a chapter; they are proud, justly so, of their history and longevity as independent organizations. But a few individuals have joined the ISS, and we will continue to pursue this.  

 

5.) For UK plans for Shaw’s 150th birthday bash, which the Dietrichs will attend as representatives of the ISS, see http//www.shawsociety.org.uk.

 

6.) Question of a Shaw Symposium in 2007 co-sponsored by Shaw/Chicago. Support for such a Symposium in 2007 might be encouraged by the fact that the Cultural Commissioner for Chicago, Lois Weisberg, is an ardent Shavian who started a Shaw Society of Chicago in the 50s, but financial difficulties make a symposium questionable in 2007.   Perhaps later.  

 

7.) Complete Shaw HyperConcordance.  Kay Li is investigating the possibilities of grants and of centering this project at the U. of Toronto, and Dick will question Jeremy Crow of the Shaw Estate about the viability of this project.

 

8.) ISS has a new website that is independent of USF at www.shawsociety.org. We hope to start a real listserv sometime this year. Some positive models such as the ASTR website and the O’Neill Society website were mentioned.

 

B. ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED:

1.) Conference every two or three years?  There was some support for a conference every three years instead of every two. Len suggested that in the years without a conference the Shaw symposium could be extended.

 

2.) More Shaw sessions at non-ISS meetings urged.  A special Shaw session has been approved and is on the conference program for the MLA meeting in December 2006. Also, there is a definite Shaw panel planned at the Comparative Drama Conference due to Tony Stafford’s good efforts.  Members of ISS were urged to approach regional MLA’s to find ways to create Shaw panels and more exposure for Shaw and Shavians in the academy. The ISS needs a group to identify conferences where we can insert Shaw papers.  Ann Saddlemyer warned that we should not dissipate the energy of such a small group by overbooking.   Stan Weintraub reinforced this concern by stressing that we must always be sure that the Shaw conference is a stellar event. Bertolini applied a dose of reality when he reminded the gathering that for the last Shaw session at the MLA there were 40 submissions. Dick reported that for the upcoming one in December there were 8 submissions. Dick reminded us that the Ibsen Society of America would like a  Shaw-Ibsen conference in the States at some future date. Some of the ISS members who plan to attend the Ibsen conference in Oslo  will explore this further. Other initiatives were urged, such as  exploring interest in Irish societies, creating a presence on PBS and Books TV, and exploring possible productions of Shaw in regional theatres near where some of us live. Dick called for volunteers to work on some of the ideas that had been bandied about: i.e. grants, conference identification, theater outreach etc.

 

3.) Conference in 2008 or 2009 in Washington, DC.  Two  representatives of the Stage Guild and  Catholic University of America were present.  John McDonald  informed the group that the new Stage Guild theatre would be ready in the fall of 2008, and they would like to have the conference  to help launch the new theater.  Tom Donahue, Chair of the Theatre Dept. at CUA, raised the possibility of exciting  tie-ins with the Washington cultural scene He would like feedback about how  we would  want the conference to be run.  There were many suggestions, but, for one, it was noted that the  plenary sessions at the Brown Conference were extraordinary and would have  attracted and pleased a general audience beyond the Shaw scholars. There will be a greater public aspect to the conference in Washington.  Since the theme may be “Shaw and Government,” there would be logical and stimulating opening for public intellectuals to discuss Shaw’s role as public intellectual in his long lifetime of public debate and polemic.  ISS members expressed a desire for a Shaw production at the next conference and for time and planning in the conference schedule for exposure to the resources of the city.

 

SUMMARY: Question of how frequently ISS conferences would be held was left open. Discussion turned to the need to make more real our title as International Shaw Society and to organize the meeting after Washington outside of the USA.  Much discussion followed of Ireland as a favored locale ensued. We were reminded by Nick Grene of how expensive Dublin is now. Norma suggested we look to Belfast and a possible sponsorship from Queen’s University, which has extensive facilities for housing and conference. Nick Grene will explore this possibility.  Although the discussion was lively and showed every indication of continuing, we  knew time was passing and that many members had planes and trains to catch. So Stan Weintraub made a motion to adjourn the meeting. which Norma Jenckes seconded and .the meeting was adjourned.

 

Many members expressed regrets that we had not  heard the promised farewell remarks by the  local organizer, Don Wilmeth. Don, however,  expressed no regrets but sat wanly waving from his chair repeating softly “Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye.”

 

Minutes submitted by Norma Jenckes.