This is my first Chair’s report since taking over from Ruth Webb at last year’s AGM. The first thing to say is a huge thank you to Ruth who, as she wrote last year, spent more than half her life on the ULEMLA Committee. I cannot hope to emulate that, but I have enjoyed my first year enormously in no small measure as a result of Angela’s splendid programme, Maggy’s social events, Christine’s minuting of our Committee meetings, Lesley’s work keeping our membership up and Shirley’s work to ensure that we remain solvent! I would like to thank all of these, and Carolyn, for their work during the last academic year. We are also delighted that Emeritus Professor Warren Chernaik has agreed to continue as our President for a further year.
Your Committee has considered the programme for 2015/16 and is recommending that we revert to meetings in January and March instead of one meeting in February. We think that as the weather in January is not significantly worse than in February, it would give us an extra meeting and would generally make the programming easier. The implications for the membership subscription we will discuss at the AGM. Likewise we would like to discuss options for the Christmas party having had to change the venue last year as the building we had originally used has been knocked-down and is being rebuilt.
Looking back at the 2014 to 2015 year, you will remember that we were fortunate to hear Dr. Kevin McCarron on “Dylan Thomas: ‘Sound and More Sound and Some Fury’” in October, and Kate Parkin on “Publishing Futures” in November. In December the T.F. Evans Memorial Lecture was given by Emerita Professor Leonee Ormond on “Victorian Theatre and the rise of Melodrama” followed by the Christmas Party and in February the Charles Peake Memorial Lecture was given by ULEMLA President, Emeritus Professor Warren Chernaik, on “Samuel Pepys and the Restoration Theatre”. In April Linda Hart lectured on “The English Years of Robert Frost” and the May Literary visit was to the King’s School, Canterbury, to see the Walpole Collection of English Literary Manuscripts and the Maugham Library, led by the School Archivist.
Just before this year’s AGM, we’ll welcome Professor Max Saunders, Director of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute, King’s College, London, who will lecture on “Autobiografiction: the case of Ford Madox Ford and Joseph Conrad”.
On your ‘Agenda’ sheet, you will find dates of meetings and the contact details of your proposed Committee. Attached is a membership renewal slip. Your Committee is exercised by the falling and ageing membership and would encourage you to publicise ULEMLA as widely as you can. We look forward to seeing you – and your friends – in Birkbeck’s main building from October 2015.
On your AGM Agenda sheet you will see that we have arranged the autumn term talks. Most of the year’s talks will take place as usual at Birkbeck except for the Christmas party and the May trip. Once speakers and topics for the spring and summer terms’ talks have been confirmed, they will appear on this website and in future ULEMLA Newsletters, as will the venues for December and May events.