2023 Eudora Welty Society Meeting Minutes

Eudora Welty Society

Minutes from Business Meeting Held at ALA in Boston on 5/25/23

Attendance: Jo Ellyn Clarey, Sarah Ford, Rebecca Harrison, Carol Ann Johnston, Rebecca Mark, Donnie McMahand, Kevin Murphy, Harriet Pollack, Gary Richards, Annette Trefzer.

Co-Presidents Donnie McMahand and Kevin Murphy opened the meeting by welcoming society members to ALA. They then proceeded to address two actions items.

Dues: McMahand and Murphy reminded members that a proposal to change the society’s dues structure went out via email in advance of the conference and that, thus far, response was favorable (see appendix 1). They underscored the need to have financial stability and a steady influx of income which would allow the EWS to support more graduate travel and other initiatives, such as bringing new scholars into the community. The floor was opened for discussion with all commentary in support of the change. McMahand called for a vote by show of hands and approval was unanimous.

EWS Panels for 2024: McMahand highlighted the need to carefully select panels for 2024 as it is a year when the society will also have panels at SSSL. He stated that Chairs willing to actively recruit would clearly be a necessity. Panel ideas shared by attendees and Vice President Harrison on the officers’ behalf included the following:
• New Approaches to The Golden Apples.
• Welty and Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, E.M. Forster, or Shakespeare. Discussion ensued on these topics. We agreed that such a panel, if selected, should be broad—“Welty and Other Authors”—and would be best suited as a roundtable that could draw inmany scholars.
• Welty and the Mississippi Renaissance.
• Welty and Rage.
• Minor Figures in Welty. After discussion, we agreed that this idea would also be best suited as a roundtable with a bigger draw.
• Welty and Family.
• Cities in Welty.
• Welty and Madness. Discussion ensued on this topic as some individuals felt it would be better crafted as a disability panel since that work was just begun at SSSL 2022. It was suggested, and audience members agreed, that the topic of madness could be potentially combined with rage.
• Reading Welty in 21st Century Contexts.
• Welty’s Neglected Stories (or Under Studied Stories).

After debating the merits and placement of the panel ideas, it was agreed that the topics for ALA should be those with broad appeal, reserving more focused or theme-based ideas for SSSL. Based on the membership present at ALA, we tentatively agreed on the following panels:
• For ALA 2024—Welty, Madness, and Rage (panel), Chaired potentially by Rebecca Mark; Welty and Other Authors (roundtable), Chair TBD. A few individuals, such as Jo Ellyn Clarey, stated that they may be interested in Chairing depending on dates and location. Mae Claxton, as noted by an audience member, could be another choice for potentially Chairing this one.
• For SSSL 2024—New Approaches to The Golden Apples (panel), Chaired by Harriet Pollack; and Minor Figures in Welty (roundtable), Chair TBD depending on SSSL location and dates which have yet to be announced.

McMahand noted that he would send out a poll to the listserv to gage interest in presenters for this plan, and Sarah Ford moved to let the officers decide the final panel slate and Chairs. Attendees agreed.

Before leaving the subject of future conferences, Rebecca Mark noted that, in addition to a presence at ALA and SSSL, the EWS needs another conference in Jackson. Harriet Pollack stated that she will be having conversations with Michael Pickard about this topic as well as funding for it. Further, Pollack reminded society members that in the recent past folks had expressed a clear interest in “Destination Conferences” on Welty—New Orleans or Cambridge, for example. To make conference planning more feasible, it was suggested that there be a conference planning committee to organize such events instead of the officers.

• Tax Filings—Murphy announced that, like with the 2021 filing, our 2022 taxes were also rejected as we are not recognized as a tax-exempt organization by the federal government. After researching the situation, he discovered that the EWS has actually never successfully filed taxes as the paperwork submitted over the years did not use the correct EIN number. It appears that a minor transcription error occurred early on that was copied year after year. After consulting with the IRS and the other officers, Murphy 1) obtained a new EIN number and 2) applied for tax-exempt status. The latter cost a one-time fee of $600 and will take up to six months to process. Murphy will be reimbursed by Wilson, and he has graciously agreed to serve as a consulting Treasurer (after he rotates out of the Co-Presidency) so that he can remain the official contact person with the IRS as this process is finalized.

• Eudora Welty Review News and Updates—Sarah Ford announced that, as of ALA, she and Harrison are now the Co-Editors of the EWR. She acknowledged the incredible vision and hard work of Editor Emerita Pearl McHaney, who will remain on as a consulting editor, and who will be honored at a future event. Ford noted that Michael Pickard and Mae Claxton are onboarding as Co-Associate Editors with Elizabeth Crews continuing to serve as Assistant Editor. She also announced this year’s Ruth Vande Kieft prize winner as Pamela Merryman and the first two EWR research fellowship recipients as Harriet Pollack and Elizabeth Crews. Finally, Ford highlighted the EWR’s call for a special cluster of essays on Welty and Material Culture and encouraged scholars to please contribute to (and encourage their graduate students to contribute to) the journal.

• Harriet Pollack provided an update on the Weltians presenting at and traveling to the Southern Studies Forum in France, and she reported that she could use more work on Welty and Film for her upcoming collection on Welty and Multimedia. The deadline would be sometime at the end of this summer.

In closing, McMahand noted that an email requesting Vice President nominees would be forthcoming from him as would a rubric for common criteria for judging the Ruth Vande Kieft prize (currently under review at the EWR). Murphy reminded attendees of Friday night’s dinner reservation at 8:30 at the Oak Long Bar and requested any additional folks interested in dinner to contact him immediately.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Rebecca Harrison.

Appendix 1
Proposal for Modernizing Membership Dues for the Eudora Welty Society: In spring of 2022, the officers of the Eudora Welty Society reviewed our membership data and revenue potential, dues categories and fee structures of other academic societies,1 and discussed changes that would increase our financial stability and allow for program innovation and initiatives in the coming years. We, thus, proposed at the ALA 2022 business meeting modernizing our membership structure from a flat $10 per individual per year to a tiered model reflective of each individual’s position and/or desired level of contribution. Our recommendations were as follows:
• $20 Discounted Membership. This tier would include students, high school teachers, adjunct faculty, and retired faculty.
• $30 Regular Membership. This level would encompass full-time, salaried faculty, independent scholars, and the general public.
• Sustaining Membership ($50+). This tier would allow those who can and are interested to offer a higher level of support to the EWS and its mission. Our vision is that the individual would enter the amount they seek to give for the year (at or above $50).2

In sum, these recommended changes are more reflective of current practices and will offer a more sustainable financial model for the society and broaden its outreach potential.

1 Some examples include the William Faulkner Society, the Toni Morrison Society, and the Edith Wharton Society.

2 All Sustaining Members could be listed in a special link on our site under “Society History.”