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Minutes of the RGS Biennial General Meeting, Rome, July 2002

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Joined: 25 May 2002
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Location: Bristol, England

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 11:29 pm    Post subject: Minutes of the RGS Biennial General Meeting, Rome, July 2002 Reply with quote

Robert Graves Society: Biennial General Meeting

2.30 p.m., 11 July 2002, The British School at Rome


Ian Firla; William Graves; Carl Hahn; Michael Irwin; Stella Irwin; John Kelly; Christine Kelly; Devindra Kohli; Paul O'Prey; John Presley; Pauline Scudamore; Patrick Villa; Dunstan Ward.

Apologies for absence:
The President, Dunstan Ward, passed on a message of best wishes from the Honorary President of the Robert Graves Society, Beryl Graves, who regretted that she was unable to attend. Apologies for absence were also sent by three Council members, Dr Robert J. Bertholf (SUNY at Buffalo), Joan Miquel Fiol (University of the Balearics, Mallorca) and Professor Alice Hughes Kersnowski (St Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas); and by Professor Frank L. Kersnowski (Trinity University at San Antonio, Texas).

Minutes of the last Council meeting on 8 December 2001:
These were (and are) available on the Trust’s website through these discussion boards.

Robert Graves Society 2000 - 2002:
Dunstan Ward said that the past two years had been a period of effective restructuring of the Society.

Following a meeting of Council Officers at Bristol on 8 June 2001, a new editorial team had been set up for Gravesiana, under the General Editorship of the Vice-President for North America, Professor John W. Presley.

The Society held its first Annual Luncheon at St John's College, Oxford, on 8 December 2001, thanks once again to the generosity and support of Professor John Kelly and Christine Kelly. Some 28 members who attended heard Roger McGough give a memorable reading of his poetry and a personal selection of poems by Robert Graves. A meeting of the Society's Council took place before the luncheon.

Much preparation had led up to the 2002 Conference in Rome. Dunstan Ward thanked the Director of the British School at Rome, Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, for making the superb venue available, and for the kind welcome and hospitality he and his wife and the staff at the School had given to the participants. He thanked Patrick Villa for his administrative organisation of the conference and John Presley and Dr Ian Firla for their contributions, particularly as Academic Programme Organisers.

Forthcoming events:

Madrid exhibition:
As already announced at the Oxford luncheon, a major exhibition devoted to Robert Graves's life and work is to open on 5 December 2002 at the prestigious Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Dunstan Ward read from a letter from the Director, César Antonio Molina:

As Director of the Circulo de Bellas Artes, an emblematic historic cultural centre in downtown Madrid, and also as a poet myself, I have always considered Robert Graves one of the great poets of the XXth century: getting the Spanish people to know that is the main goal of the exhibition. We shall do our best to show mainly his poetry work to his readers, who perhaps have been more aware of his very important prose works so far, and of course try to expand his audiences as a poet with new readers.
Of course we shall also show his prose, with special interest in his autobiography, historical novels and criticism works, together with private writings such as diaries and correspondence.

The exhibition, supported by other Spanish public institutions and The British Council, will be shown at other cultural centres in Spain in 2003.
William Graves, representing the Robert Graves Trust, had been collaborating with the curator of the exhibition, Ms Aurora Sotelo, whom the Society was fortunate to have in attendance at the Conference.

Annual Luncheon:
The Robert Graves Society's Annual Luncheon for 2002 will be held at the Circulo de Bellas Artes on 5 December 2002, after the opening of the exhibition. Details and registration forms will be available on the Society's website.

Imperial War Museum Exhibition:
Dunstan Ward announced that the Imperial War Museum was kindly offering the Robert Graves Society a private visit to a special exhibition at the museum this autumn. The exhibition, 'Anthem For Doomed Youth: Twelve Soldier Poets of the First World War', will look at the life and work of twelve of the best known poets of the Great War, including of course Robert Graves.
The museum was kindly providing an exclusive guided visit and drinks (possibly also something to eat), free of charge, after 6 p.m. (i.e. when the museum was closed to the general public). It was planned to invite Jon Stallworthy, who was producing a book to coincide with the exhibition, to give a talk. There was also the possibility of a Robert Graves poetry reading.
The exhibition will run from the end of October until April 2003. Information about the Robert Graves Society is being included in the exhibition leaflet. It was agreed that the end of January would be a suitable time for the visit, and that this should make an attractive and potentially productive - in terms of new members - Robert Graves Society event. Details would be available on the Society website.

Secretary/Treasurer's report and biennial accounts:
The Secretary/Treasurer tabled a spreadsheet showing the present financial situation and bank balance. He said that the Society had suffered quite serious cash flow problems during the previous two years, mainly due to the infrequent appearance of Gravesiana, which had also meant not being able to collect subscriptions on a regular basis. But the present conference should lose only a small amount and with the expected payment through St. Johns of £2,000 obtained for conferences by William Graves in 1998, the Society’s account should be safely into credit shortly after the conference.
Once a new issue of Gravesiana had been produced in September 2002, it would be possible to collect another round of annual subscriptions. This would further strengthen the financial position, especially as the Poetry Collection at SUNY Buffalo had kindly offered to produce this one issue without charge to the Society.

Robert Bertholf had said just before the Conference that the next issue of Gravesiana, which he was now putting together, would be 'in the mail in September', Dunstan Ward told the meeting. It was intended to change the page size while keeping the basic design.

Editorial and peer review procedures:
The General Editor, John Presley, said that the delay in publication of the journal had largely been caused by problems with the peer review procedure: posting articles on the web page set up by Ian Firla for general comment had not generated sufficient response. However, he thought the system would work more effectively once it had been adapted along the lines that had recently been proposed by Dunstan Ward: members of the Editorial Board would be assigned responsibility for specific subject/genre areas; they would send in confidential reports on articles within their area, and sub-edit the articles accepted. Ian Firla said this system would not be difficult technically, and the present board could be kept going to enable the editorial team as a whole to see what was being submitted.

Material for forthcoming issues:
Material on hand for forthcoming issues included articles based on papers presented at the 2000 Conference at Buffalo, and Amy Graves's memoir, John Presley said. He proposed that papers from the Rome Conference should be considered for publication in Gravesiana, rather than in a book of conference proceedings. The meeting adopted this; it also decided that the papers from the 1995 Conference at Palma should be treated similarly.


The Secretary/Treasurer reported that numbers of new subscribers were slowly increasing. There had been a marked increase due to the conference (many of those attending had joined for the first time) and he estimated that the UK-based list had now reached more than 120. Taking the Buffalo list into account, this suggested a total figure of about 200. It was pleasing that many of the new members seemed to be either young academics or older lifelong learners. He suggested once again that the UK and US membership lists be combined into one global list. It was agreed that the amount of the subscription to Gravesiana should remain the same for at least another year.

Production and funding:
Dunstan Ward reported that, as indicated earlier, Robert Bertholf had kindly promised that the Poetry Collection, SUNY at Buffalo, would pay the printing costs for the next issue, but not for further issues. The Honorary Vice-President of the Society, Professor John Kelly, said he believed St John's College, Oxford, might be prepared to help, and he would look into the matter.

Annual publication:
Dunstan Ward asked the meeting to consider whether it might not be more realistic, in view of the difficulties and delays over the past three years, to publish Gravesiana once instead of twice a year. After discussion the meeting decided that a single, bigger number of Gravesiana would be published each year in June. Subscribers would be informed of the change, and their subscriptions adjusted accordingly.

University affiliation:
Dunstan Ward pointed out that since the ending of its connection with University College Northampton, Gravesiana had lacked a university 'host', which he felt was important for its academic standing. The meeting accepted his proposal to investigate the possibility of the journal being affiliated to the University of London, through the British Institute in Paris.

Registered Charity status:
In response to a motion by William Graves, the meeting decided that the Society should take the necessary steps in order to become, like the Robert Graves Trust, a Registered Charity.

Election of Council and Officers:
On the motion of John Kelly, seconded by William Graves, the Council and Officers of the Society were re-elected, unopposed, for a second term, with the exception of Patrick Villa, who said he was not prepared to stand for re-election as Secretary/Treasurer. He said that he would continue to carry out the functions of the office until a new Secretary/Treasurer could be appointed.
The Council and Officers of the Robert Graves Society re-elected for 200- 2004 are:
President: Dunstan Ward (University of London, British Institute in Paris); Vice-President (Europe): Dr Paul O'Prey (University of Bristol); Vice-President (North America) and General Editor of Gravesiana: Professor John W. Presley (State University of New York at Oswego); Secretary/Treasurer: appointment pending; Dr Robert J. Bertholf (State University of New York at Buffalo); Joan Miquel Fiol (University of the Balearics); Dr Ian Firla (Robert Graves Trust, St John's College, Oxford); William Graves (ex officio, representing the Graves family); Stella Irwin (Canterbury, Kent); Professor Alice Hughes Kersnowski (St Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas).

2004 conference:
The meeting decided that the 2004 International Robert Graves Conference will be held at Paris under the auspices of the British Council and the British Institute in Paris (University of London), on the theme 'Robert Graves and War'. The Conference Organiser will be Dunstan Ward.

The meeting ended at 5 p.m.
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