BARS Special Elections

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Please see our previous Blog post for an explanation of the process.

Re-election 2023–2024

  • President: Anthony Mandal
  • Secretary: Jennifer Orr
  • Treasurer: Cassie Ulph
  • BARS Review Editor: Mark Sandy
  • Website Editor: Matt Sangster

Recently Vacated Posts, to run 2023–2025

  • Vice-President (outgoing: Gillian Dow, new candidate: Jennifer Orr)
  • Membership Secretary (outgoing: Tess Somervell, new candidates: Carmen Casaliggi; Yimon Lo)
  • Communications Officer (outgoing: Anna Mercer, new candidate: Amy Wilcockson)
  • Bursaries Officer (outgoing: Daniel Cook, new candidates: Gerard McKeever; Francesca Saggini)

Please read the candidates’ statements below. Voting will be open to BARS members from Monday 13 March via email.

President (Anthony Mandal)

When I was elected as President of BARS in July 2019, like the rest of the world, little did I know that we would be facing a global pandemic just over six months later. As a result, my first term as BARS President focused on working with the Executive Committee to support the BARS membership during this challenging period in a number of ways. We produced a list of key resources to support the teaching of Romanticism internationally; we launched a programme of Digital Events; and we ran an online conference in 2021 on Romantic Disconnections/Romantic Reconnections to make up for the postponement of our joint BARS/NASSR event at Edge Hill University to summer 2022. 

While reacting to these global events, I have also taken a proactive approach as President, centred on my commitment to diversity, inclusivity and transparency. In line with this, we have extended the scope of a number of existing BARS fellowships to include care-related aspects, and we moved the BARS/NASSR 2022 conference to a mid-week, rather than weekend, schedule. As someone from a minority background, I am proud to have developed a new President’s Fellowship to support the work of Black, Minority Ethnic and Indigenous scholars of Romanticism. This award is accompanied by an Open Fellowship, which will launch in spring 2023, further extending the eligibility criteria for awards among the BARS membership. 

If I have the honour of being re-elected as President until summer 2024, my aim is to continue our drive for inclusivity and openness. I aim to work closely with the new Executive on releasing further streams of funding to our membership, including non-academic members; I will oversee progress on the BARS 2024 biennial conference; and continue to make transparent the processes behind our awards, policies and procedures. Building on recent successes such as the BARS/NASSR 2022 conference, I wish to strengthen further our international ties, at a time when the UK’s presence on the world stage has diminished. Ultimately, my aim as President is to make the British Association for Romantic Studies even more of an inclusive, welcoming and diverse community.

Thank you for your consideration.

Secretary (Jennifer Orr)

In the past five years in the role of Secretary, with the exception of parental leave during 2021, Jennifer Orr has supported two full elected cycles of the Executive in the smooth running of business. This year she is running for BARS Vice President with a specific leadership manifesto grounded in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity initiatives. Should she not be successful in the bid for VP, she will continue for a further term in the Secretary role with the intention of handing the role over to a new candidate in due course.

Originally designed as an ECR role with predominantly administrative responsibilities, the Secretary has evolved from a largely administrative role to one which is more involved with Executive policy initiatives and communication, supporting the President and Vice President in facilitating more collegial and open decision-making processes. As the first point of contact in the organisation for members, it has been a privilege to get to know many of our members first hand. As keeper of the BARS archive she has accrued institutional knowledge of the organisation’s history and precedent. She has worked with the President to expand our Executive to include new ECR opportunities in our Communications Team as well as in Digital Events.  Just as the pandemic has altered the ways of doing business across all of our institutions, she has been instrumental in helping BARS adapt to digital platforms and ways of working. We developed a Teams platform for Executive Business and shifted our meetings online which has enabled greater participation (both synchronous and asynchronous) and reduced costs. She also regularly serves the Executive on shortlisting panels for bursaries and other ad-hoc positions. She supported our excellent conference organising teams to deliver BARS 2022, 2019 and our ECR Conference in 2018. 

Treasurer (Cassandra Ulph)

Since taking up the position of Treasurer in 2019, I have worked to ensure financial processes are robust, transparent, and easily handed over to future incumbents. In addition to the regular preparation of accounts for the President’s annual budgetary report, I have overseen the setting up of a new bank account for BARS in order to comply with financial regulations, and established deputised access within the committee to financial accounts as a failsafe in the event of change of personnel or illness. I have established centralised Treasurer communications (a dedicated gmail account and google drive document storage) in order that future treasurers are not dependent on institutional access or personal email accounts for official communications. I have used my position on the executive to advocate for precarious and independent scholars, and within the remit of my specific role by developing revised guidelines for Copley Bursary claimants, introducing greater flexibility in the claiming processes to address the exclusionary practices of academic reimbursement culture. I supported the outgoing Conference Organiser for the 2022 BARS/NASSR, and am currently supporting the current ECR conference organisers, in financial processes for those events. In the next year, I aim to work with the incoming Bursaries Officer to streamline information-sharing and processes regarding awards, budget and claims, and to hand over a clear and effective set of financial procedures to my successor when I step down in 2024.

BARS Review Editor (Mark Sandy)

Mark has been editor of the Review since 2017. Since his appointment, he has secured a PGR Research Assistant (funded by Durham English Department at £500 per annum) to help with the various editorial tasks (especially keeping track of the different stages of the review process) the role involves. Since its inauguration, this role has been held by Sharon Tai, Yimon Lo, and Katie Lee-Harling. Lydia Shaw (a current PhD student at Durham working on Byron, Shelley, and ecocriticism) has taken on this role. Postage costs are also covered by his department.  

He is also delighted to report that the new online recruitment form (set up by Katie Lee-Harling (in consultation with Matt and Anna in 2021) for reviewers continues to thrive and there is a very healthy – and still growing – current pool of reviewers. He is pleased to note that across issues 56, 57, 58, and 59 (forthcoming) a good number of featured reviews have been authored by both ‘new’ and established reviewers. 

The Review issue (58) for 2022 was published in the autumn. This featured a spotlight section on ‘Repositioning Romantic Perspectives’ and included reviews by Ashley Cross, Christine Keyon-Jones, and Jessica Fay, Nowell Marshall, Ben P. Robertson, and Diego Saglia.  He is currently finalising copy for the Spring / Summer issue (no 59) 2023, which will appear in early May. This issue will feature reviews by Kostas Boyiopoulos, Ariel Sheng, Chris Townsend, Tom Marshall, and Annalisa Volpone.  

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2023 and 2024, Mark would like to maintain a commitment to promoting a diverse set of reviewers in terms of their career stage, ethnicity, and geographic location. Over the last five years or so, we have featured reviews by European and North and South American reviewers. We have also published reviews of significant works of the period that have been recently translated into other European languages. With an eye on the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s edition of P.B. Shelley’s Posthumous Poems (1824), he is planning a future spotlight section (in a 2024 issue) on Mary Shelley as an editor and writer.  

Website Editor (Matt Sangster)

In his past three years in the role of Website Officer, Matthew Sangster has continued to maintain and improve BARS’ various websites and has done the technical edits for six issues of The BARS Review.  He was conference chair for BARS’ 2021 Digital International Conference, Romantic Disconnections/Reconnections, with responsibility for overall co-ordination, the programming and the technical delivery.  He has served on the BARS Digital Events Committee since its inception and is chairing the committee for the current academic year.  He continues to conduct Five Questions interviews on new books and projects for the BARS Blog:  Future plans include an upgrade of the underlying system for the Review.

Vice-President (Jennifer Orr)

It would like to express my interest in the role of BARS Vice President.

Having held the role of Secretary of BARS since 2018 and being an experienced, cross-disciplinary Mid Career Researcher who has held senior responsibilities within my School and Faculty (Director of Education, University Educational Practice Mentor, PGR Project Approval Chair), it would be an honour to take on the strategic role of Vice President. If elected, I intend to develop the role towards addressing our Equality and Diversity priorities more specifically. I am committed to continuing and increasing our support for researchers both at Early and Mid-Career level through the introduction of Developmental Mentoring opportunities. Having trained as a Mentor within my own institution, I feel well placed to investigate opportunities for this. We each have so many challenges in our institutions, and in the field more generally, and it strikes me that we can do more through our wider professional communities to support one another, whether that is developing greater confidence in networking, helping negotiate cultural differences and expectations or providing a ‘safe space’ outside one’s own institution to test ideas or ask questions. BARS membership has provided extra-institutional support to me throughout my career from ECR precarity to a more secure position as a Mid-Career researcher with a different set of professional and personal responsibilities. I remember what it meant to me to receive a Copley Bursary and a nomination for the First Book prize. More recently the warm welcome that I have come to expect from our wonderful BARS community at organised events and conferences, whether online or in person, has provided crucial community support and collaboration opportunities. My hope is that every member, at whatever stage of their career, feels able to access support through BARS.

Having served BARS as Secretary since 2018, I would bring to the VP role understanding of the organisation’s history and its strategic direction, particularly its mission to protect and further our discipline and to serve all of its members. 

It has been a privilege to have worked with many talented people in our Executive to see the organisation through the unprecedented challenges of the Covid pandemic and adaptation to new hybrid platforms. I am proud to have helped deliver the first President’s Fellowship supporting scholars from Black, indigenous and other minority ethnic backgrounds; the expansion of our bursary support; greater focus on supporting our Early Career research members; and supporting our conference committees to deliver a number of successful events, most recently Edge Hill’s spectacular New Romanticisms in August 2022.

With the feedback from our recent members’ survey in mind, I intend to continue the work that we are already doing towards making BARS a more inclusive and consultative culture which seeks to be outward facing. As a commitment to our principles of openness and limited terms of office, were I to be successfully elected to the role of Vice President, this would be my final post and I would not be seeking a further position within the BARS Executive. 

Membership Secretary (Carmen Casaliggi)

I am writing to express my interest in the role of Membership Secretary for the British Association of Romantic Studies. I have been involved in BARS for several years and during this time I have taken part in many of its conferences and organised events meaning that I have a good knowledge and understanding of the association and its members. 

During this time, I also gained good experience of the workings of the association and the responsibilities of the members of the Executive and of the role of the membership secretary more specifically. As I understand it, the association aims at growing its contacts and my experience to date will serve me, and the association, well in that exercise. Using my networks both nationally and internationally, I would aim to proactively engage with and encourage new members to join by promoting the benefits of membership especially to early career researchers and research students; encourage member participation in conferences and all the various activities; explore ways of promoting and generating wider interest outside academia (e.g. museums, heritage centres, art galleries) thus facilitating growth as well as diversity and inclusion. I also believe that there is scope to make more distinctive contacts with potential members particularly transnationally so that the association continues to be strong and attractive.

I have a positive working relationship with the members of the association and colleagues in the Executive and I believe that my leadership style fosters an inclusive and discursive working environment which encourages an atmosphere of respect and collegiality. Building an inclusive culture in which members participate is also key to creating a vital and attractive community, in which postgraduate students and ECRs engage with senior colleagues more directly and are able to actively participate in our culture. 

As a scholar and teacher of Romanticism, I am deeply invested in the success and quality of the association and its members. It is important to me that our activities – and members – are supported and encouraged to flourish. I see the membership secretary role as a wonderful opportunity to achieve this. 

Membership Secretary (Yimon Lo)

I am a literary scholar with research interests in sound and silence in Romantic poetry, poetics of psychotic disorder, and female travel writing. I am currently Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tübingen (Germany) and Research Fellow at the University of Leuven (Belgium). I also held Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, having previously studied at Durham, Bristol, and Hong Kong. 

I am a long-standing member of BARS and have actively involved in the Association since 2017. I have been a regular participant of various events, including the Early Career and Postgraduate Conference (‘Romantic Exchanges’, 2018), the International Conference (‘Romantic Facts and Fantasies’, 2019), and the International Digital Conference (‘Romantic Disconnections/Reconnections’, 2021). In 2019-2020, I served as the editorial assistant of The BARS Review and facilitated the operation of the journal through a wide range of administrative tasks. Later this year, I will contribute a blogpost to the BARS ‘Five Questions’ interview on my recent monograph. 

If elected, I will  bring my international network and organisational experience to the position. To align with the Association’s ongoing initiative to encourage inclusivity and diversity, I aim to expand the membership base of BARS in both the UK and abroad. I will cooperate with international colleagues and other members of the executive committee to broaden research opportunities and impact for members in any career stage. Apart from maintaining connections with major societies and associations, I will make use of my ongoing acquaintance with local research groups and regional communities in different countries to promote the achievements of BARS members worldwide. Through facilitating global exchanges among researchers and organisations, I hope new and existing members of BARS would benefit from targeted experiences and resources, including invited talks and lectures, honorary memberships and awards, journal access or subscription discount, and national and international funding and collaborative opportunities. 

Communications Officer (Amy Wilcockson)

I am pleased to offer my supporting statement for the post of BARS Communications Officer. 

I have been an active member of BARS since 2018. I assisted with the organisation of the 2019 BARS Conference at the University of Nottingham, alongside co-curating the accompanying exhibition. I have delivered papers and led salons at subsequent BARS Conferences, alongside participating in the BARS Digital Event ‘Romanticism and the Museum’. Since August 2022, I have served as Communications Assistant for BARS, working with the Communications Officer and my fellow Assistant to run the BARS social media channels, update the blog, and commission original content. I am also currently on the BARS Digital Events Committee, promoting the events on social media. I have thoroughly enjoyed these engagements with BARS and would love the opportunity to develop my links with BARS further by progressing to the Communications Officer role. 

Further experience of note is my previous role as a Communications Fellow, which I held for two consecutive years from 2020-22 for the Keats-Shelley Association of America. In this role, I revived multimedia content for the K-SAA blog, curated the popular ‘K-SAA Interviews’ series of YouTube videos, created promotional material for K-SAA events, promoted the Association on social media and through their blog. I hope to continue to bring this innovative approach to content to BARS whilst boosting followers and engaging with a variety of communities.

In a few months my postgraduate study is ending, and I will be classified as an early career researcher. If successful, I wish to work alongside the PGR and ECR reps in order to provide even more opportunities for postgraduate and early career researchers to contribute as part of the BARS community. This could include through creating and promoting new series of blog posts, inviting scholars to lead social media takeovers, or create short videos or podcasts. Supporting upcoming scholars is something that I find extremely worthwhile, and I would also relish the chance to mentor future Communications Assistants and help give them the valuable experiences that I have had whilst working as part of the BARS Comms team. 

I also look forward to the chance to oversee the BARS mailing list, which would allow me to continue to build relationships with BARS members. Working with BARS on the Digital Events Committee once again and also promoting the wide range of bursaries (of which I have personally been a recipient of and which has vastly aided my research), appeals to me greatly. I would be interested too in assisting BARS with future bursaries, including potentially one for first-generation scholars. I would also like to work with the Schools and Education Liaison, and the next Conference Lead, to promote their exciting work to a range of audiences.

I feel my experience, plus my enthusiasm and commitment make me a strong candidate for this role. I look forward to getting to know the BARS membership better and being their point of contact within the organisation.

Bursaries Officer (Gerard McKeever)

The BARS bursary schemes are one of the areas of the society’s activities where it can most tangibly support emerging and early-career research, encourage intellectual risk-taking, and foster diversity in the community of Romantic Studies. I am putting myself forward for the role of Bursaries Officer seeking to build on the society’s considerable recent achievements in these areas, aiming to grow the range of BARS bursaries and to publish specific calls targeted at reaching under-represented groups.

As a former awardee of the BARS-UCSL Scottish Romanticism Research Award I have a sense of the power and possibilities of the BARS bursary schemes – my own award was used to seed a much larger research project. In general, that collaboration with UCSL is a model that could and should be replicated with other organisations that have analogous interests to BARS: if appointed I would proactively pursue collaborative bursaries as a way to formalise the society’s support of new and distinctive research avenues.

My own relationship with BARS began in earnest as a student helper at the 2011 biennial conference at the University of Glasgow, and the BARS community has provided an intellectual home for me ever since. I arrived into Romantic Studies at a transitional moment, as manifested in the theme of the 2011 conference (‘Enlightenment, Romanticism & Nation’) when a challenge to the ‘Big Six’ English Romantic canon from ‘Four Nations’ British history was very strongly felt. One of the central aims of my career to date has been to enrich and complicate the terms of Romanticism: I co-founded the Scottish Romanticism Research Group (SRRG) at Glasgow in 2011, generating a series of research questions that would culminate in my monograph, Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786-1831 (EUP, 2020), the winner of the BARS First Book Prize 2021.

The BARS/NASSR 2022 conference struck me (and other colleagues) as really a landmark event in terms of the increasing plurality of Romantic Studies as a field. Building on this momentum, I would pursue new, tailored bursary calls either in addition to or as a subset of the existing Stephen Copley and conference awards. These would be aimed at further diversifying Romantic Studies by encouraging research projects, and researchers, from outside the traditional confines of the field. More generally, I would work to grow awareness of the BARS bursaries through creative, topical advertising that illustrates the expansive umbrella of Romantic Studies, as a way to reach scholars who may not have considered their work in this context previously.

As a postdoctoral scholar, I was fortunate enough to be part of several large grant teams, and I am now leading the History of the Book at Edinburgh. I am very proud to be thought of as an effective collaborator, and would bring both energy and creative thinking to BARS. I have a keen sense of civic duty to this society that has been foundational to my own professional and intellectual development, and would relish the opportunity to make a substantial return in this role.

Bursaries Officer (Francesca Saggini)

My research interests lie mainly in the areas of the long Romanticism (the novel, theatre, and non-fiction prose) and the Gothic. I have written extensively on adaptations, transmediations, intersemiotic transits, and the reception of texts. More recent interests include cultural heritage, and the history of reading and writing. As many of you probably know, my guilty pleasure is Frances Burney. 

I have been a member of BARS for almost 10 years, and I have actively played a part in several other international scientific societies in North America and Europe since my undergraduate years. I have a solid track record in evaluation and conference organization as well as a strong editorial commitment. At present, I am a member of the URKI Talent Panel College and the AHRC Peer Review College, but my service to the profession spans peer-reviewing to evaluation activities at the international level (review exercises, funding schemes, project assessment).

My role as Chair of the BARS First Book Prize (2019-2021) was a great experience, despite the difficulties we faced during the pandemic. Now, I would like to continue my involvement with ECRs and postgraduate scholars in Romantic studies, a core mission of BARS, as part of my decade-long commitment to supporting innovative research. 

As a regular participant in several Romantic-related events, I am aware that scholarship in the area is vibrant, rich, and diversified. The elephant in the room is evident, nonetheless. Much has been done in terms of equity, diversity, and inclusion, but much more must still be done. As a female full-time carer, and part of the non-UK based BARS membership, I am fully aware of the limits faced by many of us in terms to access to research facilities and, crucially, support service. ECRs and postgraduate scholars face growing and ever more complex challenges in terms of funding and career progression. Put simply, grant capture has become a make-or-break condition for academic evaluation and promotion. 

Moving from this awareness, and looking beyond the administration of the BARS bursaries, I hope that some form of mentoring may be developed to assist prospective applicants to major funding schemes. As a BARS member recently mentioned, it is good to know you can put your ideas across to someone when you do not have a supervisor any longer and you do not feel the confidence that years of experience can provide.

It would be a great honour to administer the awards on behalf of BARS, thus contributing to our growing commitment to and support of new research.

1 thought on “BARS Special Elections

  1. Gary Kelly

    Are the EDI initiatives an indication that BARS is embracing identity politics? Regardless, does the EDI initiative place class anywhere in the initiative (I ask because where I work it doesn’t)? Inasmuch as class has largely been marginalised in histories and historiographies of Romanticism, and Romanticism (however defined or construed) can be argued to have been a class-dominated movement (then and now) both expropriating and hostile to the cuture of the commonage, are there plans to address this question in a focused way in terms of academic practices and themes?

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