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Message from ASECS President

The following email was sent to current and last year’s members on Nov. 2, 2023.

Nov. 2, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well. We are now deep into fall, with winter, at least in Chicago, not far behind. The ASECS Executive Board has been meeting regularly and plans are well underway for our 54th Annual Meeting, which will be held in Toronto, April 4-6, 2024. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Among the features of the conference will be a session devoted to previewing aspects of the revised ASECS Constitution and Bylaws. To that end, I am happy to report that the ASECS Constitution and Bylaws Task Force has officially been launched, with its first meeting held late last month to review the charge and discuss how the work of the task force will proceed. Below and on the ASECS Committees webpage you will find the task force charge. You’ll see that our goals are threefold:

  • First, to provide for effective governance and operations.
  • Second, as indicated in the charge, to “look to ways in which [ASECS] can be more inclusive in its operations to represent the wide range of member interest and needs.”
  • And third, to ensure that we are in compliance with the rules and laws that govern our status as a 501c3. 

ASECS is a thriving and vibrant scholarly society, and the task force aim will be to provide a strong governing framework that will support our present project and be elastic enough to sustain future innovation, change, and transformation in humanities research and the nature of the profession at large. As called for in the charge, then, the Task Force plans to consult widely with our membership and in particular with caucuses, affiliates, and current committees to map out a new set of bylaws as well as new policies and committee structures that can support both our current operations and future initiatives.

It is important to note at the outset of this process that Bylaws are meant to be durable governing documents and, as such, cannot in themselves address all of the concerns and issues raised by members in the last number of years. ASECS bylaws should reflect our overarching multidisciplinary mission as well as our interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary values and at the same time provide a framework for shaping policies and procedures, such as our new Policy on Statements, to address certain more immediate and pressing issues. 

As a voluntary society, ASECS relies both on its executive leadership and on its members to play a significant role in the work of the organization. In that respect, I am incredibly grateful to our First and Second Vice Presidents, Paola Bertucci and Misty Anderson, for co-chairing the Task Force, and to Benita Blessing and Nush Powell, our Executive Director and Parliamentarian, for guiding the work of this important working group. Mindful of the findings in the ASECS Membership Survey and Engagement Report that call upon our organization to operationalize the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, I am equally grateful for the service of our task force members, who have been deliberately drawn from a wide range of disciplines, interests, fields, subfields, ranks, institutions, affiliations, and membership types. In order to facilitate and foster the iterative process required here, the membership of this group has been kept small. 

There is, of course, no way for such a small group to be exhaustively representative of all of the rich and varied interests across our society. Hence, I want to underline that the work of the Task Force will not be possible without the broad participation of our members in the consultative processes that will unfold in the weeks and months ahead. Please do respond to prompts and queries that may come your way and do please plan to attend the preview sessions that will be offered in person at the annual conference and online at a subsequent Town Hall.

Thank you again to the members of the Task Force as well as to Past President Wendy Wassyng Roworth for getting us started with some preliminary legwork last year. Their shared commitment to this task is tremendous, and we are all, already, greatly in their debt.

And thanks again to all of you for your support and participation in this very important endeavor. Together we will shape a strong and enduring future for Eighteenth-Century Studies.


Lisa A. Freeman

ASECS President, 2023-2024

ASECS Constitution and Bylaws Task Force 
Charge and Information
October 27, 2023

The ASECS Constitution and Bylaws Task Force is charged with reviewing and revising the ASECS Constitution and Bylaws as well as revising or updating current policies and committee charges as called for by the new Constitution and Bylaws. The Task Force is expected to consult widely with ASECS membership and in particular with caucuses, affiliates and current committees and should look to build on the findings in the ASECS Membership Survey and Engagement Report from March 2022. The Task Force should look to ways in which the organization can be more inclusive in its operations to represent the wide range of member interests and needs. The work of the Task Force will be directed by its co-chairs, the 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents of ASECS.

Task Force considerations should include:
  • Executive Board Composition, with respect to disciplinary categories, fields, ranks, membership types, diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Elected and appointed Board member terms and responsibilities
  • Nominations and Elections procedures
  • Committees and their structures
In engaging these duties, the Task Force should:
  • Review historical organization fundamentals
  • Review best practices for Bylaw clarity and structural and operational effectiveness
  • Review legal requirements for states of Illinois and Oregon
  • Consult parliamentary best practices for construction of bylaws 
  • Review benchmark peers’ governance practices
  • Differentiate governance practices in terms of Constitution, Bylaws, Standing Orders, and Policies and Procedures categories

The Task Force should take special care to seek legal advice to ensure that ASECS is in conformity with all legal requirements for non-profit organizations in the State of Illinois, where we are incorporated and the State of Oregon, where our home office is located.

ASECS Constitution and Bylaws Task Force Members

Misty Anderson, ASECS 2nd Vice President, co-chair; Professor of English, affiliate Professor of Theatre and Religious Studies, University of TennesseePaola Bertucci, ASECS 1st Vice President, co-chair; Professor of History and History of Medicine; Curator-in-charge, History of Science and Technology Division, Peabody Museum, Yale University

Manushag (Nush) Powell, ASECS Parliamentarian, ex officio, non-voting; Professor of English, Purdue University

Benita Blessing, ASECS Executive Director, ex officio, non-voting

George Boulukos, Professor of British Literature and Africana Studies, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Mark Boonshoft, Associate Professor of American History; Chair in American Constitutional History, Virginia Military Institute

Jason Farr, Associate Professor of English, Marquette University

Jennifer Germann, Regional Affiliate of Institute for European Studies, Cornell University, and Independent Scholar, British and French Art History, Women’s and Gender Studies 

Monica Anke Hahn, Assistant Professor of Art History, Community College of Philadelphia

Christy Pichichero, Associate Professor of History, French, and African and African American Studies, affiliated faculty in Women and Gender Studies and War and the Military in Society programs, George Mason University

Chunjie Zhang, Associate Professor of German, affiliate faculty in Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, East Asian Studies, Critical Theory, Global Migration Center, and Religious Studies Graduate Group, UC Davis.