Eudora Welty Society
Minutes from Business Meeting Held at ALA in Chicago on 5/26/22
Attendance: Jacob Agner, Caroline Brandon, Jo Ellyn Clarey, Brenda Currin, Sarah Ford, Katie Frye, Rebecca Harrison, Carol Ann Johnston, Rebecca Mark, Pearl McHaney, Tom McHaney, Donnie McMahand, Kevin Murphy, Harriet Pollack, Gary Richards, Dina Smith, Annette Trefzer, Adrienne Akins Warfield, Laura Wilson.
Announcements: Donnie McMahand and Kevin Murphy opened the meeting by welcoming society member to our first in-person ALA since the Covid-19 pandemic. They then announced this year’s Phoenix Award recipient, Mae Miller Claxton, who will be formally recognized at SSSL 2022 in June. A special note of congratulations was also given to David McWhirter who received his Phoenix award during the C-19 shut down. Finally, it was noted that Judy Butterfield will receive this year’s Ruth Vande Kieft Prize; her essay will be published in the Eudora Welty Review (Issue 14).
1) Treasurer News
a. Laura Wilson announced that she is leaving the States to relocate to England. The position of treasurer will be open again unless she explores the possibility of doing it remotely. Wilson noted that this would be possible if we move all the funds to (and utilize) PayPal for all business transactions; she stated that we have around $4000 in the bank account right now.
b. After announcing that the 2021 taxes for the EWS were rejected, Adrienne Akins Warfield, former EWS Treasurer, explained that the IRS does not consider us an officially recognized non-profit (though we have successfully filed as such for ten years). The EWS has the original letter denoting our EIN, but the IRS will not recognize it though the state of Tennessee does. Warfield speculates that either it was a temporary EIN and the paperwork necessary for a permanent one just fell through the cracks or that the records were simply lost/not processed by the IRS who is incredibly behind in such work. Watkins recommended speaking with both Michael Kreyling, Treasurer at the time of the original exempt status application, for any insights into what happened and a tax lawyer before continuing discussions with the IRS to correct this situation. She noted that it may be worth getting incorporated at the federal level, which may have bigger long-term gains for the society as well. Wilson explained the process for the Faulkner society—they have not done tax filings—and have not had any issues with either State or Federal agencies. Discussion ensued on the pros and cons of losing our non-profit status. In the end, Carol Ann Johnston offered to provide a recommendation for a tax lawyer to consult with, and Pear McHaney moved that we let the current officers decide what to do about these accounts once we have all the necessary information. Carol Ann Johnston seconded the motion; there were no objections noted.
2) Membership Dues—McMahand and Murphy explained that the EWS Officers unanimously agree that it is time to consider changing our membership dues structure. They noted that, after researching other groups, our structure needs updating to: A) a
tiered model wherein the amount of the dues differs based on employment status and B) to a set, regularized timeline and process for sending out reminders and collecting dues. Rebecca Harrison then provided an overview of the draft model the officers have been discussing. The collective officers noted that such a model would also provide greater financial stability and an opportunity for members to donate additional funding that would allow the officers to develop outreach initiatives to grow and diversify the society. Discussion ensued and was mostly favorable, especially if we keep our tax-exempt status as there are no income limits. Harriet Pollack noted that dues have been $10 per year since 2019 and explained the purpose of that level of funding. Other members (Mark, McHaney, Johnston) agreed that our rates are low compared to other groups and with the benefits of moving to a sliding scale, noting that most members not only could but would be happy to pay more. The officers stated that there will be a follow up discussion that includes the formal proposal and an electronic vote.
3) Eudora Welty Review—Pearl McHaney provided an overview of the EWR’s history, its time at GSU, and the decision to move the journal to PennPress. She explained that in that process both Sarah Ford and Rebecca Harrison were brought on as Associate Editors and that the editorial board had been revised, diversified, and expanded. She also announced that the EWR would like to provide additional monies to A) increase the Ruth Vande Kieft Prize to $200 (from $50), B) sponsor a $2000 research grant for a Welty scholar (with no rank or geographical limitations), C) pay for permission fees or copyright fees, and D) sponsor an event at the next EWS conference. She stated two requests: 1) the EWR wants more essay submissions to the journal and 2) more subscriptions (individual and institutional); both will allow the journal to grow and continue its mission. Finally, she stated that issue 14 is in production (a TOC was distributed), and she outlined the submission process cycle moving forward with Penn Press: a firm September 1st deadline for submissions with the issue being released in April of each year.
4) Upcoming Collections—Sarah Ford provided an overview of the CFP and deadlines for a forthcoming special, double edition of WST on Eudora Welty, Ecology, and Feminism that she will be Co-Editing with Rebecca Mark. Of special note is the abstract deadline of September 1st; individuals interested should feel free to reach out to Ford and/or Mark with questions or ideas before then. Finally, Ford announced that Jim Walker, with Boydell and Brewer, was interested in adding a Wetly book to their “literary criticism in perspective” series. She can forward the information to any interested party. Pollack announced the release of three new books in the Welty series (University Press of Mississippi): Eudora Welty and Mystery, The Eye that is Language, and Exposing Mississippi. She also noted that more books are in the works so scholars should be looking out for the forthcoming CFPs.
5) “Moon Lake” Reading—EWS members present moved and unanimously agreed that the society should cover the $200 sound tech costs for the ALA reading. Brenda Currin, the director of the reading, will pay the fee, and Laura Wilson will issue Currin the reimbursement.
6) Ideas for Future Conferences—McMahand and Murphy elicited topics of interest for the next ALA (2023) and SSSL (2024). Society members proposed varying nomenclatures for the following ideas for panels: Material Welty (or Welty and Material Objects), Erotic Welty (or Sensual Welty/Welty and Sex), Welty and Music (or Welty & Folk Songs), Welty and Hi/Lo Art, Welty and Magazine Culture, Welty and Fascism (or Welty and the Cold War), and Welty and Family (or a Welty and the Archive panel).
Discussion ensued. McMahand and Murphy asked for, by show of hands, who would be interested in writing for which panel. The panel ideas that received the most interest by far (from those members present) were Welty and Material Objects and Erotic Welty (or Sensual Welty/Welty and Sex). So many scholars were interested in Welty and Material Objects that Harrison suggested that we consider two panels on the topic: one more traditional panel and another roundtable style panel that would contain brief (5 to 7 minute) object talks. Of those present, additional interest was expressed in the following ideas (in rank order): Welty and Magazine Culture, Welty and Fascism, Welty and Family, and Welty and Music. Finally, the officers noted that they would need volunteers to write the CFP for and chair the panels selected.
Minutes respectfully submitted by Rebecca Harrison.