IMEMS Newsletter - Spring 2014
2013-14 has marked a new stage in the development of IMEMS, with the appointment of a new Bangor co-director and the start of a fresh process of consultation via the survey monkey and consultative meetings in each institution. The enthusiasm and commitment of the membership to the continuation of IMEMS goals are evident in the numerous responses and positive comments sent and shared in writing and orally and it is thrilling to see the energy of new initiatives coming through so powerfully.
In terms of organisational procedures the following are in place:
The directors are, in alphabetical order, Prof. Raluca Radulescu (English, Bangor, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and Prof. Björn Weiler (History, Aberystwyth, email@example.com). Please feel free to contact either with regard to any of the topics outlined below (or other).
A new management board has also been co-opted. The Aberystwyth representatives are Dr Cathryn Charnell-White (Welsh, firstname.lastname@example.org), Prof. Sarah Hutton (English, email@example.com), and Prof. David Trotter (European Languages, firstname.lastname@example.org). The Bangor representatives are Dr Christian Leitmeir (Music, email@example.com), Dr Sue Johns (History, Welsh History and Archaeology, firstname.lastname@example.org) and one TBC. It will be chaired by Chris Drew from the Aberystwyth-Bangor Strategic Alliance Office and alternatively by one of the co-directors. The management board meets twice/year.
A renewal of the international Advisory board has been proposed. Members are welcome to nominate scholars with an international reputation in the medieval/early modern periods from disciplines (and cross-disciplinary approaches)represented within IMEMS with a view to representing the IMEMS strengths and, in particular, the balance between the two periods.
Several priorities have been agreed at the Bangor and Aberystwyth meetings and a few directions for further development have emerged. The next six months will involve preparatory work with a view to making headway in the following areas:
The website, in particular the way in which strands and research interests/projects are reflected to the outside academic world, and in the run-up to the REF panels checking our vision in the past, present and future; here the news is that the Management board (which met on 5 February 2014) is currently discussing a proposed new format for the website, to be circulated for consultation and feedback, which should go live at the end of March.
The bi-annual conference, with the agreed theme Travel, to be organised in the year to 18 months ahead; colleagues from both institutions have expressed an interest in becoming part of the organising committee. Their names and affiliations are as follows (the list is by no means closed, so do feel free to contact any one of these volunteers in order to put forward suggestions for dates, funding sources, plenary speakers, etc):
Aberystwyth: Dr Cathryn Charnell-White (Welsh, Aberystwyth, email@example.com), Dr Rhun Emlyn (History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth, firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr Gabor Gelleri (European Languages, Aberystwyth, email@example.com)
Bangor: Prof. Andrew Hiscock (English, Bangor – on sabbatical in spring 2014, firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr Kate Olson (History, Welsh History and Archaeology, Bangor, email@example.com), Dr Rachel Willie (English, Bangor, firstname.lastname@example.org).
the co-directors are working on a business plan to be presented to the two institutions;
at the Bangor end the VC has shown support towards instituting an IMEMS PhD scholarship, at first fees-only; it is hoped that the same will happen at Aberystwyth;
c) an initiative from the Bangor co-director has led to instituting, for a start, a period of match-funding for small projects, subject to funds available: this means that IMEMS members are now encouraged to apply for match funding for projects/conferences/other activities such as training for postgraduates etc once they have secured external funding. Match funding will apply up to £500 and the decision will be taken by a committee consisting in the two IMEMS co-directors, Chris Drew, the deputy head of the Strategic Alliance and members of the management board. Please send applications outlining the project to this committee via email at any time.
Bi-annual Research bulletin/Facebook/Twitter accounts: there is agreement that these should be set up as a matter of priority in order to open channels of communication with the outside academic community. The Facebook account is up and running, and can be accessed via https://www.facebook.com/IMEMS.SACMC
These accounts will now be used to publicise all our work, so IMEMS members are warmly encouraged to post any notifications about personal projects, funding news, relevant new appointments in one’s department, publication news, etc. In the past the IMEMS circular has been used, to a large extent, to publicise external events (and fewer internal ones), run outside our universities; now we want to make sure IMEMS members get to know each other in terms of research interests and potential cross-collaborations by advertising our own good work and initiatives. This does not replace the need for a research bulletin; the co-directors are hoping a bi-annual research bulletin will be in place after the summer and a call for notices and news will be sent out shortly (these will be posted on the website in the first instance, with a summary of the top news in the bulletin).
The initiatives of an IMEMS (open access?) journal and/or book series have received a lot of interest and input from the membership. A consultative committee is to be established to pursue these by wide consultation, with a view to presenting a few alternative themes/titles to the membership by September/October 2014. Please alert one of the co-directors if you want to be involved in this consultative group.
Directory of expertise: this will be an online resource, hosted via the IMEMS web page. It will provide a directory of medievalists and early modernists not only at Welsh universities, but also within third sector bodies, as well as independent and retired scholars, possibly linked to the new matrix that will hopefully provide a structure for the new website. It is envisaged that this directory be organised in a way to support direct member input online so as to lighten the burden of constant updating.
Training for postgraduates: there have been some interesting and useful suggestions relating to collaborative training under the IMEMS umbrella, perhaps following the trend established via the manuscripts training scheme in Middle English, Anglo Norman, Welsh and Latin organised by Prof. Raluca Radulescu in the period 2005-11, (Gregynog and Bangor), and the recent and forthcoming workshops at Lampeter and Aberystwyth. Contact Dr Kate Olson at Bangor (History, Welsh History and Archaeology, email@example.com) if you are interested in discussing this further.
Collaborative MA provision: this is intended to complement rather than operate in competition with existing degree schemes. It could take the form of joint training sessions (in Anglo-Norman, for instance, manuscript studies, etc.), but also in terms of bundling modules from participating institutions into new degree schemes (Anglo-Norman Studies, for instance, or Uses oft he Past in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. For the time being, send your suggestions and comments to Björn Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other initiatives and continuing activities also involve sharing good practice in terms of impact and engagement, opening new channels of collaboration withing HE in Wales, with the aim of working together as a Wales IMEMS as well as with other partners. Under the Joint Learning and Teaching Strategy between the Universities there is an apetite to grow our joint provision and so it would be great to see some proposals from IMEMS developing.
All of these new developments represent new energies within IMEMS, and it is vital that we keep the channels of communication open not only between the co-directors and the members, but also within the IMEMS constituency.
Keep the initiatives coming, and do alert us to anything that can be improved
With best wishes,
Raluca Radulescu and Björn Weiler