This year the HOTCUS elections are uncontested with one candidate for each position on the committee. Details of the candidates are available below. The new committee will be put to the membership for approval at the AGM at the annual conference, but in the meantime if any member wishes to raise any concerns they can contact the committee secretary (who is not standing this year) at [email protected]
It has been my great honour to serve as Chair of HOTCUS for the last two years, being involved primarily in addressing the challenges our community faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some great initiatives have taken place such as our fundraiser which allowed us to financially support early career researchers whose access to archives had changed overnight. We also took inspiration from new online forms of interaction to experiment with hybrid conference formats and in creating new event forms which I would like to see develop during my next term.
However, especially the last year has shown that the pandemic has taken a much bigger toll on our community than we may have imagined. Increasing workloads and the appalling precarity of academic employment also had an impact on the work of HOTCUS. Rebuilding important initiatives such as the inclusive syllabus competition and the mentoring programme are key priorities as we move forward, but this is much more so an important moment in time to take stock: What initiatives can enhance our commitment to diversity and inclusion? How can we give the continuously increasing number of colleagues in precarious employment a voice? What event formats prove attractive at a time when we have limited capacities? These questions are jumping off points for important conversations within HOTCUS, between the committee and its members. Fostering this conversation about inclusivity, precarity, and workload, turning it into fruitful initiatives, and communicating these strategically beyond our own field would be my main goal for my next year as chair of HOTCUS.
The solidarity of the HOTCUS community has been on full display in recent years as we have faced the challenge of living and working during a pandemic. I have served as Treasurer since 2020, working to ensure the organisation is in sound financial health and, especially, supporting PhD and early career colleagues. Despite the trying times, we have been able to host several online, interactive events that have allowed us to feel less isolated. As we return to more traditional ways of working, I would like HOTCUS to continue with inclusive practises. I am keen for HOTCUS to relaunch initiatives that were placed on hold during the pandemic, particularly curriculum development and mentoring programmes. Our community has a key role to play in shaping debates around the inclusion of traditionally unrepresented groups and unheard voices.
After stepping down from my role as Events Secretary last year, I have decided to stand again for a position on the committee as I would like to continue contributing to the vital role HOTCUS plays in our field. As Secretary I hope to continue the work of my predecessor in coordinating the HOTCUS steering committee’s activities and ensuring we can deliver our ambitious program of events and awards. In addition, I will aim to revamp the HOTCUS website so it remains up to date and functional for our members and other scholars of American history.
I’m writing this at yet another worrying time in our sector. Ongoing industrial action, job insecurity, widespread inequality, and the recent announcements of cuts to humanities programmes mean that support from organisations like HOTCUS – and the work it does to highlight the importance of our discipline – is exceptionally important. It is vital that HOCTUS’s bank balance can be healthy in the short-term, as inflation puts the real value of HOTCUS monies at risk, and in the coming years as we seek to grow the organisation’s impact in the US History community. With this in mind, I would have a few key priorities as treasurer:
- Expand the organisation’s support for postgraduate researchers, ECRs, and those on precarious contracts to carry out their teaching and research, disseminate that work, and attend HOCTUS events.
- Expand the organisation’s membership and fundraising strategy to include sustaining and life membership options, and fundraising drives that help provide additional research/teaching support for colleagues on precarious contracts, on the job market, or breaking new pedagogical ground.
In a volatile financial climate, ensure that HOTCUS’s bank and building society accounts benefit from the most favourable terms and, ideally, with a bank that prioritises ethical uses of savers’ money.
I’m a lecturer in modern American History at Keele University and director of the David Bruce Centre for American Studies. If re-elected, I plan to focus on the following:
-Keep allowing members to apply for funding to cover remote research expenses, to help those for whom international research trips remain unfeasible.
-Carry on working with other committee members to promote diversity. This past year, we have set aside a travel award for a BIPOC member. I would continue this initiative, alongside looking to encourage membership and funding applications from members from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
-Continue to encourage ECR participation. This year, we have made the ECR Article Prize more accessible to ECR members by allowing ‘first view’ article submissions and articles published up to the submission deadline (rather than those published between January and December in the previous year).
I have really enjoyed serving as the HOTCUS Membership Secretary. If re-elected, I would welcome advice on how to make the HOTCUS awards work well for our membership.
This year I have overseen the organisation and development of HOTCUS’s first fully hybrid conference, and it has been wonderful to see how excited many members are to meet in person again. However, online and hybrid events make access possible for a diverse range of members, and I am particularly proud that we have been able to make online attendance at the 2022 Annual Conference free for PG and ECRs without permanent employment.
Debates over the significance and purpose of academic conferences have only increased in the wake of COVID restrictions, inviting us to really question what we want from our events. My intention in this role has been to ensure that our annual conference structure best serves the needs of our members, rather than outdated traditions. I am committed to an ongoing, evolving conference plan, which invites essential conversations on teaching, diversity, and our responsibilities to the wider community, alongside exciting research panels. Issues of diversity and inclusion are the principal drivers of the conference schedule, while providing a space for important discussion of teaching and outreach as well as research.
My main election ‘promise’ last year was to encourage our keynote speaker to participate in a supplementary developmental workshop for PGs and ECRs rooted in research and networking, to better bridge the gap between invited speakers and attendees. I am delighted to say that our 2022 keynote Melani McAlister has openly embraced this initiative and helped establish what I hope will be a staple of our annual conferences to come.
In recent years, HOTCUS has considerably expanded the remit of our conference, ensuring that time is now given to discussion of pedagogy, diversity, and the inequalities of the job market. The conference format is always open to change, and I hope that HOTCUS members will continue to feed into that process with their input and ideas.
Early Career Secretary
Ellie Armon Azoulay
I am a cultural historian focusing primarily on the US with a multi and interdisciplinary background and experience that includes researching and teaching about and through music and visual culture. My work’s interdisciplinary nature was formed by my diverse career(s) and experiences, ranging from research, curatorial work, art criticism, and DJing. This diverse background shaped my pedagogy and my abilities to incorporate multiple approaches to knowledge production, research, education, and collaborative work. I am very keen to bring this experience to the HOTCUS community and explore together how to expand the use of various sources and approaches in historical research.
I have served as a PG representative in my doctoral department of American Studies at Kent; I was elected as PG rep and a member of the British Association of American Studies (BAAS) executive committee, a role that ends this June after two years. In both roles, I have been actively initiating institutional, non-institutional and cross-institutional initiatives: organising workshops and webinars that centred on the needs of PG and ECR communities, such as work in annual PG symposium, work in progress sessions, reading groups and workshops on the process of transforming the dissertation into a book manuscript. These opportunities strengthened the sense of community that my peers and I needed and enhanced the importance of solidarity.
As a foreigner, a woman, a non-English (native) speaker and an ECR with caring responsibilities, I’ve experienced (and continue to) different challenges that affect my material conditions, well-being, and opportunities. Securing a fixed-term position after my PhD is a great privilege, and I found it inspiring and fulfilling. Still, the insecurity and the constant job search can be stressful and isolating at times. I know that this position resonates with many, and I’d like to work with HOTCUS to facilitate opportunities for solidarity and sharing knowledge and experience around these processes.
Postgraduate Secretary (2-year term)
I am a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, based at the Rothermere American Institute, where I specialise in the East Wing and the First Ladyship of mid-twentieth century America, and material culture. My work touches on questions relating to gender, feminist movements, gendered spaces, and labour in Executive politics, and as such, brings together a number of thematic strands of US history.
I have massively benefited from the supportive environment of HOTCUS since I started my DPhil, presenting work at the Postgraduate Conference 2020, Winter Symposium 2021 and now the Annual Conference this year. Likewise, I have also received financial support from HOTCUS for emergency archival access and travel funding, which has been invaluable to facilitating my research. Appreciating how integral both the financial and professional support has been from the HOTCUS community, I am keen to promote this amongst the Postgraduate community to make sure they are aware of the opportunities available to them by being an active member of HOTCUS.
At the RAI, I have previously been responsible for running the American History Graduate Seminar, and this year I have been the coordinator of the American History Research Seminar, our flagship seminar series in the Institute. Additionally, I have also been running the social media for the institute and its podcast. I therefore have a range of experience in organising and promoting events within the RAI, which would stand me in great stead for organising a future postgraduate conference at the RAI as part of this role.