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Mark Twain Circle: minutes of the 2014 annual meeting.

ALA Annual Conference

Washington D.C.

May 25, 2014

President Linda Morris called the meeting to order at 2 pm.

In attendance were Linda Morris, president; John Bird, vice president; Sharon McCoy, executive coordinator; Chad Rohman, editor, Mark Twain Annual; Joseph Csicsila, editor, Mark Twain Circular; Joe Alvarez; Jim Caron; Kerry Driscoll; Dennis Eddings; Paula Harrington; Larry Howe; Tom Inge; Judith Lee; Jan McIntire-Strasburg; Ann Ryan; Jarrod Roark; David E. E. Sloane.

John Bird presented the vice president's report, focusing first on the Circle's online presence. The Circle's website (marktwaincircle.org), at a cost of $26 per year for the domain name, allows the Circle to publicize events and new publications relating to Mark Twain, posting pictures and information, including member lists and archived issues of the Circular. It also provides a PayPal link so that new members may join and current members can renew online. Members who prefer can still download the form and send payment through the mail with a check or money order. The Mark Twain Circle also has a Facebook page now, offering frequent quotations and announcements, which has attracted some new members to the Circle.

Bird also raised the issue of the annual Modern Language Association (MLA) 2015 meeting in Vancouver. MLA has for the second year in a row denied a second session to the Circle. After the previous year's denial, the MLA had said that second sessions organized jointly by two organizations had a better chance of acceptance; the Circle and the American Humor Studies Association (AHSA) jointly proposed a second session on Serious Autobiography, but were denied. John Bird pointed out that this was an unfair hardship for any graduate students or adjunct or contingent faculty on the panel because the MLA required dues payment for panelists by March, but delayed notification of session acceptance or denial until May or June. Discussion ensued, with various members suggesting a formal protest to the MLA, and others arguing that such a protest would do more harm than good. Tom Inge pointed out that because MLA's reorganization has already occurred, the time to speak is past. Jan McIntire-Strasburg suggested we make a closer examination of MLA's reorganization, looking into ways to use it more effectively in proposing sessions. Ann Ryan stressed the importance of keeping lines of open with MLA, and offering a session with broad popular appeal to draw in a larger audience. John Bird stated that the authors' societies were meeting later in the afternoon, and he would raise the issue to see if the denial of a second session was widespread and to discuss strategies.

Other upcoming conferences were discussed. Ann Ryan discussed the upcoming AHSA/Mark Twain Circle Quadrennial Conference, December 4-7, 2014, at the Four Points Sheraton French Quarter in New Orleans. Six additional sessions were needed, and Ryan asked those members present to spread the word. The Mark Twain Circle will have a panel at SAMLA, November 7-9, 2014, "From Corn-Pone to Delmonico's: Feasting with Twain." And while The Mark Twain Circle is not officially affiliated with the upcoming Mark Twain Conference in Hannibal, Missouri, July 23-25, 2015, John Bird strongly encouraged members to submit abstracts. The inaugural conference was in August 2011, and included such highlights as trips to the Mark Twain Cave, the birthplace museum in Florida, MO, the Quarles Farm, and more. Abstracts will be accepted through February 15, 2015, and should be sent to Henry Sweets of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. The call for papers is posted on our website, marktwaincircle.org.

Chad Rohman presented the report for the Mark Twain Annual, which will be publishing its second edition with Pennsylvania State University Press this year. Rohman reported that the press has been responsive, the editorial management site is working well, and he is already receiving strong submissions for 2015; he commented that the Elmira 2013 International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies had greatly contributed to the number of interesting submissions. Volume 12 of the Annual will be coming out in winter 2014. Rohman also reported the good news that the Annual is now properly listed in the MLA Directory of Periodicals as a peer-reviewed journal, linked to the MLA Bibliography, and that a glitch in the listing with the EBSCO database has been fixed. Rohman concluded with thanks to all for their efforts and submissions.

Joseph Csicsila reported that the first electronic issue of the Mark Twain Circular had been published during the past week, with a limited run of print editions for members without email addresses and libraries that had previously paid for a print subscription. Csicsila reported that the feedback so far has been positive, and talked about innovations to the Circular, including interviews with esteemed senior Twain scholars. Csicsila requested that if anyone had suggestions for new ideas that could be accommodated in the e-format, that members should please get in touch with him. He also requested that pertinent pictures and links be sent. Linda Morris raised a question about the relevance of the president's column, saying that while it is good to have the president's voice in the Circular, it shouldn't necessarily be a major feature, and expressed a desire for more use of color pictures, enabled by the new format.

Sharon McCoy presented the treasury and membership report. Last year's account balance was $10,158.98. Income during the past year from membership dues, royalties, and institutional subscriptions to the Circular totals $5745.54; expenses totaled $4,576.50, including the webpage, books for review in the Annual, reception expenses, travel stipends for officers to the annual meeting, PayPal fees, and award gifts and certificates. The current balance in the treasury is $11,328.02. Member totals include 192 U.S. members and 29 international members. The Circle gained twenty-eight new members this year, with nineteen joining through the new PayPal option on the website. The PayPal option also was used by twenty-eight renewing members. McCoy also brought up the problem of past-due memberships, pointing out that twenty-three members would be dropped for nonpayment of past dues if they do not renew soon. General discussion ensued about attracting new members to the Circle and reaching out to current members, including the Circle's growing Internet presence. At its height, membership in the Circle was said to be about 500, but the membership numbers have remained fairly static in the past ten years, as pointed out in our most recent MLA review.

Joe Alvarez reported on the upcoming expenses for the AHSA/Mark Twain Circle joint conference in New Orleans. At the last conference, expenses exceeded fees by about $3000. Alvarez suggested either raising the conference fee or cutting back on the amount spent on food to save money. Judith Lee spoke against raising the fees, recalling that one significant purpose of the conference was to attract graduate students, junior faculty, and other young scholars, and it was generally agreed that raising fees was not a desirable option.

Joseph Csicsila then presented nominations for the four offices with terms set to expire. Nominations were as follows: John Bird for president; Kerry Driscoll, vice president; Linda Morris, executive committee member, past president; Larry Howe, executive committee member, at-large. Joe Alvarez seconded the nominations. There being no discussion, Linda Morris called for a vote, and the new officers were unanimously approved.

Linda Morris mentioned Jim Leonard's long-term service to the Mark Twain Circle, citing his active presence in the Circle and his continued managing editorship of the Annual. She proposed writing him a formal letter of thanks, and this was unanimously approved.

As a final order of business, Linda Morris, as outgoing president, was presented with a gift in deep appreciation of her service and leadership, a copy of the 1884-1885 volume of the Century magazine, containing three excerpts from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Sharon D. McCoy
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Author:McCoy, Sharon D.
Publication:Mark Twain Circular
Date:Nov 1, 2014
Words:1321
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