Central European Steering Committee for Canadian Studies

 

Third Meeting of the CESCCS

Brno, the Czech Republic

15 October 2000

 

Report

 

Participants

 

Monica Bottez (Romania) [MB]

Maria Huttová (Slovakia) [MH]

Katalin Kurtosi (Hungary) [KK]

Aleksander Kustec (Slovenia) [AK]

Anna Reczynska (Poland) [AR]

Don Sparling (the Czech Republic) [DS]

 

Regrets were received from Ljiljana Matic (Yugoslavia)

 

 

A.      Morning Session

 

1. Opening

 

The meeting, held in the Office for International Studies of Masaryk University, began at 9.05.

 

2. Adoption of the agenda

 

The agenda was adopted with the addition of AOB as point 15.

 

3. Report on the Grainau meeting

 

The Grainau report was approved as presented.

 

4. Financial report

 

4.1 Budget proposal for 2000/2001

 

 DS reported that he had submitted a budget proposal for the fiscal year 2000/2001 to the ACE at DFAIT in May.  This consisted of two parts, one covering the activities of the CESCCS in the present fiscal year, and the second providing for a special advance for the second international CE Canadianists’ conference in Romania in October 2001. The remaining funds for the conference would be included in the budget for the fiscal year 2001/2002.

 

When in Ottawa in May, DS discussed the budget proposal with Marie-Laure de Chantal, who approved the general outline and specific items. However, she anticipated a slight reduction in the overall grant owing to the financial situation at the ACE. In the event this was the case: instead of the proposed $12,400 for the Steering Committee, $11,650 was allocated, while the advance for the conference in Romania was reduced from $6,500 to $6,000.  At the time of the Steering Committee meeting, the money had not been deposited in the CESCCS account in Brno, but DS had been informed by the Canadian Embassy in Prague that the funds had just been released by the ICCS and as soon as they were received in Prague would be forwarded to the Brno account.

 

AR raised the question of the financing of the conference in Romania. Despite initial promises, the funds requested by the Polish Association for Embassy/DFAIT funding for the conference in Torun in April 2001 had been reduced, the reason given being that it was not possible to support two conferences in the region within such a short space of time. She conveyed the disquiet of some members of the Polish Association, who felt that their plans were being undercut by the activities of the Steering Committee, and that the Steering Committee should have scheduled the Romanian conference at a time that would avoid conflict with the Polish conference.

 

MB reviewed the complicated history behind the timing of the conferences: the original idea, after the Brno conference in November 1998, to hold such a conference every two years, and the offer of the Romanians to host the next one; the slow start to the creation of the CE Steering Committee leading to a suggested postponement to spring 2001; the parallel discussions in Poland which led to the decision to hold the conference there in spring 2001; the decision taken at the Bratislava meeting of the CESCCS in December 1999 to shift the Romanian conference to the fall of 2001. 

 

AK also pointed out that the two events were different: the Polish event (like the conference in Hungary in 1999) is a national conference with international participation (at the Bratislava meeting it was suggested that, because of funding, a maximum of fifteen foreign participants might be considered), while the Romanian one has been planned as an international conference. Ottawa should take this into consideration, and not view them as competing events.

 

DS asked exactly what kind of (provisional) promises of support had been made, and whether only some or all of the anticipated funding had been refused. AR was not in a position to give precise details, but undertook to get in touch with Ewa Welnic, who is head of the organizing team, and ask her to provide DS with the relevant information.

 

DS suggested there might be various ways of helping the Polish Association. One would be to use some money from the CESCCS budget for this purpose. Another was related to the special additional grant given to the ENCS to support travel to the Brno graduate seminar by participants from Central Europe; perhaps it might be possible to use some of this to support travel by (young) CE participants to the conference in Torun.  He promised he would look into whether these would be considered legitimate uses of the funds.

 

It was agreed by all that that this kind of situation should not be allowed to reoccur: it caused unnecessary complications, and damaged the credibility of the CESCCS itself. For that reason, CESCCS members should consider themselves responsible for informing other members of the Steering Committee promptly when any new initiatives are being considered in their countries.

 

 

4.2 Finances February – October 2000

 

DS presented a financial report covering the period from the meeting in Grainau to the present.  The large balance was due to the delay in publishing the Brno conference proceedings (see 7 below) and the ongoing effect of the delayed inauguration of CE Secretariat activities (see the report of the second meeting in Grainau, section 4).

 

 

5. CE Canadian Studies Secretariat in Brno

 

DS explained the present structure at the Secretariat. Two students receive remuneration for work done there. Pavel Filip, a fifth-year student in the English Department, is in charge of the listserve and basic updating of the CE Canadian Studies homepage. Petr Vurm, a graduate student whose two subjects as an undergraduate were English and French,  has the task of researching, gathering and diffusing information, and coordinating any major activities (such as possible lecture tours – see 12 below).

 

At the present time, Mr Vurm is reviewing all the links on the homepage in order to weed out those that don’t function and those that seem of little use, as well as to get rid of redundancies.  He is also involved in searching out new sites to add to the homepage.  Other current activities include:

 

1. Library resource improvement:

-          checking which centres seem to have reasonably large collections of books, journals and  videos and write to them asking:

a)      if the catalogues of these are available online

b)      what issues of journals are available

-          preparing a special entry on the homepage that will make it easy to access this information, the idea being that material can then be loaned in the region, or at least photocopied;

-          putting the information on the homepage, and sending out a special announcement to everyone on the listserve concerning this new service;

 

2. Teaching resources

      -     preparing a database by topic in the region, for easy access;

-          preparing a special “questionnaire/answer form” for teachers who are interested in going to other places to lecture; it should include what fields they’re prepared to lecture in (if possible actual topics of lectures) and when they are available;

-          when the results are back, posting them on the homepage;

-          If necessary, helping to coordinate any such tour so that maximum exposure is gained.

 

3. Research

-          surfing through the Web to find any possibilities for studying, teaching, doing a TA. at some Canadian university, especially any kind of available scholarship for grad students;

-          the same, but for possibilities of getting any kind of grant for projects, research, or whatever.

 

In the discussion that followed, a number of other activities that the Secretariat might undertake were suggested.

 

1.      In order to make full use of library resource materials, especially journal articles, some means should be found for enabling CE students and teachers to have photocopies made of relevant material.  One possibility was for centres to do this, if requested, with the costs being reimbursed by the Secretariat from its “office supplies” allocation. DS felt this was feasible.

 

2.      It was stressed that the calendar of events on the homepage had to be kept up to date, and events listed there well in advance; DS said he would speak to Pavel Filip about this, but that the responsibility for sending in information lay with the Steering Committee members and the other Canadianists in CE.  Steering Committee members also stressed that it was important for information about upcoming events not only to be posted on the homepage, but in the first instance to be circulated via the listserve. DS said he thought this had been done in the past, but would make sure it was the practice in future. In this connection, he would see to the announcement of the Polish conference being sent out again.

 

3.      AK inquired about the possibility of a chatbox service. This, however, would require the purchase of certain software. It was decided to think about this and make enquiries as to its usefulness (how extensive is access to appropriate technology in CE? – AR, for example,  said that in Poland this was still a big problem) and report back at the next CESCCS meeting in Grainau.

 

4.      In November an interne from the University of Toronto,  Nicholas Dinka, is coming to Brno; he will be doing work for the international office of Masaryk University, as well as teaching a course in Canadian literature. He could also be used to give advice and suggestions with regard to the homepage.

 

 

 

6. Canadian Studies developments in Central Europe

 

Each of the Steering Committee members in turn provided information on her/his respective country.

 

Poland

-          The Polish Association is putting together an information bulletin about its activities; current membership is around fifty (students and teachers), but it is still discovering new academics who are doing work in CS. Its main current concern is the preparation of the second national conference in Torun next April (see 8 below).

-          A new master’s degree programme in Canadian cultural studies has been started at the University of Silesia under the direction of Eugenia Sojka, the first master’s degree programme related to Canada in the country.

-          The universities at which CS courses are offered are: Warsaw (Anglophone and Francophone literature), Torun (Anglophone literature), Lodz (Anglophone literature and journalism), Krakow (history and ethnic relations), Lublin (Francophone literature), Silesia (MA programme, English and French), Poznan (Anglophone literature).

-          Two books on Canada have appeared - a history on “Canada in the Twentieth Century” by Pietr Wrobel and Anne Wrobel (in Polish) and book by Maciej Abramowicz on Quebec and Quebec Culture entitled “Quebec au coeur de la francophonie” – and a third is about to be published, a general history of Canada (in Polish). Other projects are more long term, including a translation of selections from the Jesuit Relations, and a Krakow/University of Ottawa project to translate into English poetry written in Canada by Polish emigrants. Work is also proceeding on a translation of immigrant memoirs.

-          Two PhDs on Canadian subjects have been undertaken in the country, one of which is now finished.

-          Janice Kulyk Keefer and her husband had a successful lecture tour that included Krakow, Warsaw and Torun

-          The Polish-Canadian Business club has announced its intention of providing a scholarship for a CS student in Poland to help with the costs of accommodation and the purchase of books.

-          David Staines has expressed his willingness to come to Poland in November 2001; funds are currently being sought.

-          Links have been established with some Canadian scholars of Polish origin who come often to Poland and are willing to help with CS, among them Richard Sokolowski and Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa

 

The Czech Republic

 

-          The Canadian Embassy in Prague has become more active in promoting Canadian Studies, and has discovered a number of academics pursuing Canadian topics within the Czech Republic as well as in Slovakia. A suggestion has been made for the embassy to host a meeting of all Canadianists from the two countries in Brno early in 2001, where proposals for practical cooperation can be discussed.

-          A number of sets of basic works in Francophone literature have been purchased for distribution  to universities in the country.

-          One PhD in Francophone literature is currently underway and two in Anglophone literature

 

Slovakia

 

-          Two MA theses are being done at Comenius University in Bratislava, and one postgraduate PhDr thesis. This semester the Canadian Studies Centre offers two seminars in Canadian literature.

-          A new course on multiculturalism in Canada will be introduced by the Canadian Studies Centre in the summer semester. Cooperation with Brno and Prague is envisaged.

 

 

Hungary

 

-          A new CS centre was opened in the spring at Szeged; this brings the total in the country to five (the others being in Budapest, Debrecen, Pecs and Piliscsaba).

-          The first PhD in CS according to the new doctoral scheme has been defended at Debrecen; another student has completed the work and is waiting for the defence.

-          KK is defending her “habilitation”; the first in CS under the new system of university degrees.

-          CS papers are given every year in two sections of the annual (largely national) conferences of the Association for the Study of English; the next will be held at Eger from 27-29 January 2001.

 

Slovenia

 

-          A collection of essays on Canadian and Australian literatures should appear shortly.

-          Canadian literature is studied at the undergraduate level (Ljubljana and Maribor), but not at the graduate level.

 

Romania

 

-          A Canadian Studies centre will open in Iasi at the beginning of November; a Canadian component will be offered in the MA Francophone Studies programme there. This will be the fifth centre in the country (after Bucharest, Cluj, Sibiu and Baia Mare).

-          At the MA-level Canadian Studies programme in Bucharest, Donna Patrick and Conrad Gross came for an intensive course in the spring; there are plans for this to be repeated in 2001. These contacts were first make thanks to the GKS and the Grainau conference.

-          CS papers are delivered at a number of different conferences in the country.

 

 

7. Publications

 

7.1      Brno conference proceedings.

 

DS informed everyone that the editing of the papers had gone more slowly than anticipated, and the publication would not be available for the graduate student seminar, as planned.  However, the French contributions were ready, and about half of the English ones; Petr Kylousek of the French Department at Masaryk University had been responsible for the former, and Mark Pepevnak for the latter. DS would finish the rest of the English contributions; the aim now was to have the publication out for Grainau in February 2001.

 

DS was asked to inform those who had submitted papers on the current state of affairs.

 

7.2   CE Journal of Canadian Studies

 

AK spoke about the current situation. A total of 10 contributions had been received – studies and reviews (no reports).  They were sent to readers, who said that two of the studies would need revisions in order to be acceptable. AK praised the cooperation with Josef Kwaterko, responsible for the French-language side of the journal. However, a number of important decisions had to be made concerning the journal.

-          Focus. It had originally been decided to devote each issue to a theme. This had not proved to be very successful – the contributions received covered a lot of areas, and few of them were related directly to the original theme proposed for the first issue -  the presence, reception and perception of different aspects of Canada in the Central European milieu. DS pointed out that this was probably inevitable, and that the idea of focusing on themes was probably too ambitious – even the International Journal for Canadian Studies found it difficult at times to get enough contributions for its thematic issues. In the end it was decided not to stick to a specific topic, but to welcome contributions of all kinds.

-          Timing. The original deadline was no longer realistic. It was decided that for the first issue it was more important to ensure that it had a high standard, rather than that it be published soon. A call will be send out announcing that there’s still space for a few contributions, with the new deadline being 1 February. AK will print two copies of each contribution, one for each reader. By 1 March the readers will have sent him their reports. The Editorial Board will meet at the conference in Torun in April, and make the final selection. Publication of this first issue of the journal will be by October 2001, so that it will be available for distribution at the conference in Romania.

-          Editorial Board.  This is to be made up of Aleksander Kustec as editor-in-chief, Monica Bottez, Maria Huttova, Jozef Kwaterko, Katalin Kurtosi.

-          Advisory Board. It was felt that an Advisory Board was also needed for doing the actual reading and evaluating of the contributions. Only in cases of doubt would the Editorial Board be called in to make decisions on articles. AK asked SC members to inquire in their own countries as to who would be willing to serve on the Advisory Board (i.e. read manuscripts) and to send him the names as soon as possible. A full list will be put together and presented at the Grainau meeting.

-          Readership. There was some discussion on who we were appealing to, and in connection with this, what kind of standards we wanted. KK reported that some people in Hungary questioned the need for such a journal: journals in Canada were available, and seemed to be sympathetic to contributions from this part of the world. DS pointed out, however, that one of the aims of the journal was to raise the profile of CS in this part of the world, to make Canadianists elsewhere aware of what was being done here. This might be important when the time came for a CE association to apply for membership in the ICCS (see 9 below).  Others also argued that there were newcomers to CS in CE, as well as a new generation of Canadianists in countries with a longer tradition; the number of Canadianists was growing, and it was not as easy to publish as it used to be, though this was of increasing importance in academic circles. It was agreed that the journal should contain articles of different levels of complexity, precisely in order to accommodate the broad range of Canadianists in the region.

-          Print run. The print run for the first issue decided on at Grainau (500 copies) was reconsidered, and it was decided that 200 copies was more realistic.

-          Marketing. For the time being, at least, the copies would be distributed free of charge.

-          Registration. The journal will be registered (given an ISSN number) in Slovenia.

-          Electronic form. For the time being we will stick with a printed version of the journal, though in future the possibility of changing to an electronic format should be considered.

 

[The morning session ended at 1.15 for a lunch break.]

 

********************  

[After lunch the participants made a brief visit to the Canadian Studies Centre at Masaryk University, and then returned to the Masaryk University Rectorate building, where the Steering Committee meeting was reconvened at 15.35.]

 

B.     Afternoon Session

 

8. Conferences

 

8.1      2nd Congress of Polish Canadianists and 1st International Canadian Studies Conference in Poland, Nicolas Copernicus University, Torun, Poland, 20-22 April 2001. 

 

AR reported that the first call for papers had met with a good response; as the deadline for submissions is 1 November, it is too early to say exactly how many participants there will be, and how many sections they will be divided into. There will certainly be a special student section.  Myrna Kostash has promised to be present. More information will be sent out after 1 November.

 

The question of financing is still tricky (see 4, above). This also concerns the publication of selected papers from the conference (along the lines of the Hungarian conference in 1999). The CESCCS will try to help (see 4 above). It was also suggested that another appeal should be made to the Canadian Embassy in Warsaw, especially early in 2001 as the fiscal year approaches its end.

 

8.2      2nd International Conference of CE Canadianists, Bucharest, October 2001

 

MB reported that the organization committee had been set up, consisting of her, Irina Badescu and Daniela Frumusani. The venue is about 12 kilometres from Bucharest, at the Hotel Lebada. The date (subject to confirmation from the hotel) would be 19-21 October.  The first call for papers, in English and French, would be sent out after 1 November, so as not to cause undue confusion vis-a-vis the Polish conference.  AR felt that the announced topic – “Individual and Community – Canada since 1945” – was too restrictive. After some discussion, agreement was reached on “Individual and Community – Canada in the 20th Century”, as giving more scope for contributors and suggesting that the conference could serve as a kind of “summing up” of the twentieth century in Canada.

 

Possible speakers were considered; AR mentioned Stanislav Kirschbaum of York Univeristy, who she had met in Canada this summer. Funding for such speakers was discussed; since this will not be easy to get; the possibility of people already in the area should be also be considered, or people who could appear at the event as part of a wider tour.

 

MB will prepare the call for papers and send it to Don, for consultation, before sending it out to the Canadianists in the CE region.

 

 

9. Report on the ICCS Executive Council Meeting, Ottawa, May 2000

 

CE representatives at the meeting were DS, AR and Daniela Frumusani (Romania). DS and AR spoke briefly about the meeting; from the point of view of CE Canadianists, the most important aspect was the affirmation that the ICCS was entering into a phase where new members could be admitted, and the conditions applying to possible applicants, in particular the rule that there should be a minimum of 100 members, of whom 60 per cent should be regular university academics. This favours the creation of a regional association of Canadianists in CE.

 

 

10. Report on the meeting with Marie-Laure de Chantal and Nancy Hector

 

DS reported that he had met with Marie-Laure de Chantal and Nancy Hector when he was in Ottawa in May/June 2000; the main topic discussed was whether class sets of books could be purchased for CS centres. Both Marie-Laure de Chantal and Nancy Hector were willing to set aside money for class sets, but under the condition that some mechanism be found for ensuring their wider circulation in the region. DS had been asked to discuss possibilities with the Steering Committee and to report back.

 

A long discussion followed, in which the participants pointed out the problems in making class sets of books available to more than one centre. KK said she would very much like to have class sets for courses she gives every year that continue over both semesters, fall and spring.  In other words, she would be using them year round, so there would be no opportunity to lend them to other centres.  In addition, these are large groups (thirty or more students), so even a class set of a dozen books would have to be shared; there would be no possibility of letting even some of them be used elsewhere.

 

DS said that in his case, lending class sets might be possible: his CS courses only last one semester, and class sets could be made available when they weren’t being used. Some of the other teachers said their courses were similar. However, it was pointed out that there were some major technical problems in lending books. Since books have to be registered by departmental or central libraries, this means that any lending of copies would have to be done officially, i.e. through the interlibrary loan service. This, however, will probably involve a number of obstacles. First,  it is a very slow service in this part of the world, sometimes taking months rather than weeks, and since in general students only manage to return books at the end of the exam period just prior to the beginning of the following semester, there would not be enough time to get class sets to other universities for use at that time. Second,  some (many?) libraries will be reluctant to lend out whole sets of books to other institutions. Third, in CE this service is rather expensive. The only other alternative would be for individual CE teachers to borrow whole sets in their own name, pretending they would be using them in their own courses, and then for them to send them off to colleagues at other universities. But few teachers would be willing to accept the responsibility (let alone the inconvenience) that this would entail. 

 

By the end of the discussion, participants felt that they were back at square one, and that the question of class sets would have to be given further thought. DS was asked to write to Marie-Laure de Chantal and Nancy Hector on this question; he said the discussion on class sets would in any case be included in the report of the Brno meeting, but that he would also make a special point of communication with them on this question.

 

 

11. Special DFAIT scholarships

 

DS reported that he had not yet had any response to the call for applications that had been sent out through the listserve. Several people said they knew of individuals who were planning to apply; KK said that as far as she knew, one Hungarian candidate was planning to send her application to the Canadian Embassy in Budapest.  DS expressed surprise at this, since the procedure outlined in an e-mail from Marie-Laure de Chantal in June had been quite explicit that applications in the region should be sent to the Steering Committee, represented by himself, to be forwarded to the Convenor of the ENCS, Cornelius Remie. DS promised to investigate this confusion.

 

 

12. New initiatives

 

12.1   Lecture tour

 

DS reported that he had received a letter from Myrna Kostash, saying that she was planning to come to the Polish Association’s conference in April 2001, and would be happy to visit other CS centres in the region; some had already expressed an interest. Those present agreed that a tour organized by the CE Secretariat would be an appropriate activity for the CE Steering Committee to undertake. DS agreed, reminding them, however, that the whole question of financing had not been mentioned in the letters he had received from Ms Kostash. DS said he would get in touch with her and see what could/had to be done.

 

12.2      CS Journals

-          No one reported having received the sets of journals from BAKS that had been agreed on at the beginning of the year. DS said he would ask Alan Hallsworth to look into this.

-          Jean-Michel Lacroix had expressed a willingness to send sets of the French Association journal to selected CE CS centres. DS asked each representative where the appropriate place(s) would be. They were: Poland – Torun, Krakow; Czech Republic – Brno; Slovakia – Bratislava; Hungary – Piliscsaba; Slovenia – Maribor or Ljubljana; Romania – Bucharest, Iasi.  DS will get in touch with Jean-Michel.

 

 

13.      Participants in the Grainau conference (February 2001)

 

DS said that he had spoken with Wilfried von Bredow of the GKS, and it agreed that the same procedure would be used this year as was employed last year for choosing CE participants in the Grainau conference: Canadian embassies in the region would make recommendations, and the Steering Committee members would also suggest names. The final selection will have to be made through some kind of electronic communication. KK asked if the rule was to hold that only people who had never been to the Grainau conference were eligible (it might be possible to say, for example, that “preference will be given to those who have not been to the conference before”; also whether other CE Canadianists could apply at their own expense. DS said he would check with Wilfried von Bredow.

 

It was decided the 13 CE places at Grainau should be divided as follows: Poland 2, Czech Republic 1, Slovakia 1, Slovenia 1, Hungary 2, Romania 2, Bulgaria 1, Yugoslavia 2.  This adds up to only 12 places; one has been left for possible applicants from Bosnia, Macedonia, etc. or an additional one from one of the other countries.

 

Deadline for applications to be sent to DS is 30 November.  DS will get in touch with embassies.

 

 

14.      Next meeting of the Steering Committee (Grainau, February 2001)

 

Because of the very full schedule at Grainau, the meeting of the Steering Committee there last year had been rushed and fragmented and frustrating. For that reason, a provision had been made in the budget proposal for the Steering Committee to be able to meet one day earlier; this had been agreed to. DS said he would look into the possibilities, either at the Hotel am Badersee or somewhere in the vicinity.

 

 

15.      AOB

 

15.1Nordic Association Constitution

 

DS distributed copies of the constitution of the Nordic Association for Canadian Studies, and asked Steering Committee members to look at it with a view to ideas for a future CE association. The Nordics’ constitution was not meant as a model to be copied, since it was a unitary organization whereas any CE organization would have to be more in the nature of a federation (how Canadian!). But it could serve as a source of ideas. He would like to have some discussion on the idea of a CE association at the meeting in Grainau. However, this can only be of a preliminary nature: it will also be very important to discuss this question with the Polish Canadianists at the conference in Torun. AR stated that the Polish Association felt it could discuss further cooperation only on the basis of federation.

 

15.2BAKS conference

 

The Steering Committee expressed its thanks to the British Association for Canadian Studies, and to its former President, Alan Hallsworth, in particular, for having made it possible for four Central European Canadianists to take part in the 25th BAKS annual conference in Edinburgh in April 2000. It was felt that the conference itself, and the many personal contacts made there, would certainly prove to be an important contribution to the growth of Canadian Studies in the CE region.

 

 

16.      Closing

 

The meeting ended at 18.10.