Minutes, March 2010

Urban Studies Scholarly Interest Group

Meeting Minutes – 3.18.2010

The meeting was presided over by Sabine Haenni and Brendan Kredell. In attendance were: Paola Bonifazio, Bruce Brasell, Amy Corbin, Ken Feil, Josh Gleich, Josh Glick, Sabine Haenni, Nathan Holmes, Steven Jacobs, Brian Jacobson, Brendan Kredell, Kate Lawrie Van de Ven, Christoph Lindner, Shannon Mattern, Gary McDonogh, Ross Melnick, Merrill Schleier, Rochelle Simmons, Josh Stenger, Pam Wojcik, Cindy Wong.

The meeting began with an announcement that the Executive Board of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies had formally voted to approve the creation of the Urban Studies Scholarly Interest Group during their meeting on 3.15.2010.

Consequently, the first order of business for the SIG was to hold elections for officers. Pamela Wojcik nominated Sabine Haenni and Brendan Kredell. There were not any other nominations. Haenni and Kredell were approved on a voice vote.

The group then discussed whether “Urban Studies Scholarly Interest Group” was an appropriate name. Some suggested that Space Studies or Spatial Studies would be a more inclusive name, reflecting the variety of interests of group members beyond issues strictly related to cities. Ultimately the group decided to keep the name as is, for at least two separate reasons: some argued that Space/Spatial Studies reflected a certain methodological commitment, while Urban Studies was more open to different theoretical approaches, while others argued that Urban Studies was a more appealing name from a pragmatic viewpoint because of the stronger “brand equity” that the name had outside of the field.

Once the group had settled on a name, discussion turned to how members would like the group to operate. This discussion was largely animated by a question of how to spend the $500 annual budget allocated to the SIG by the SCMS Executive Board. Members were agreed that they would like for the SIG to take the lead in establishing a website that could act as a repository of information and a point of exchange for scholars working on issues of Urban Studies. There was some question as to how such a website could co-exist with SCMS (e.g., would it be possible to have SCMS host an Urban Studies SIG website on its servers?), and the chairs agreed to contact the relevant people at SCMS to determine what resources would be made available to the SIG.

Specific proposals for the website included using it as:

  • A repository for information about other conferences (both calls for papers as well as conference reports written by SIG members)
  • A resource for pedagogy (specifically including links to syllabi from members of the SIG)
  • A source for literature reviews (or links to literature reviews)
  • A site for announcements of book projects

In addition, members discussed other ways in which the money allocated to the SIG from SCMS might be spent. Christoph Lindner proposed using the money to institute an annual SIG graduate student essay prize. This idea was enthusiastically received and prompted considerable discussion about what the guidelines for such a competition should be. Ultimately, the group decided that it would like to propose an essay prize for graduate students, in the amount of $150, using the same terms and conditions that apply to the SCMS graduate student prize awarded at each conference. Discussions were had concerning how the prize would be juried.

Finally, the group discussed what event it might like to sponsor at next year’s SCMS conference. Given the location in New Orleans, members were particularly excited about the prospect of touring historic theaters in the city. Ross Melnick volunteered that he had a contact with extensive knowledge of the New Orleans circuit who might be able to facilitate a tour of some theaters for the group. Merrill Schleier suggested that we also recruit guides from the local chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. Others proposed inviting the head of the local film office to address the group.

In addition to any external events, the group also discussed what role it would like to play within the SCMS conference next year. Given the novelty of the group, members felt that it would be helpful to begin with definitional questions. Pamela Wojcik proposed a workshop exploring the methods and issues of urban studies work.

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