Proposal to join the CFHSS

Proposal to join the CFHSS

UPDATE: VOTING PAGE NOW OPEN

(version française ici)

  The CSSC/SCEBD is both a scholarly association and a professional one. We are very proud of the scholarly contributions that our members make to the interdisciplinary field of comics studies and to the quality of our annual conference; however, we feel that further steps are necessary to enhance the standing of comics scholarship within our home disciplines and to grow the Society into a national scholarly association.

From time to time, we have debated the desirability of joining the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, an umbrella organization of over 160 learned societies and institutions of higher education in order to “promote dialogue on ideas and issues that are critical to the public and research communities.” In addition to their advocacy and public outreach activities and administering the Aids for Scholarly Publishing Program, the Federation – in association with a host university – convenes the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences annually.

Your executive is seeking a mandate from the membership to join the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, ideally in time to hold our next annual meeting as part of Congress 2019 in Vancouver.

There are several implications of this decision to consider. Most importantly, this will make the CSSC/SCEBD conference more expensive to attend:

  • We will pay annual dues to the Federation, which are calculated on a per-member basis but capped $500 and 7,500. (At present, we make an annual contribution of $500 to TCAF and receive two rooms here at the Marriott in exchange.)

  • While we will remain free to set our own membership dues and conference rates, all delegates to a conference held at Congress must also register for Congress and pay their registration fee (see Table). These fees support overhead, logistical support, costs for running the expo / book fair, and plenary events. They include space at the host university for all conferences, while our own fees would need to cover keynote speakers we invite, A/V, and any catering or translation services we choose to provide.

In exchange, we would be able to apply for and access funds earmarked for inviting international keynote speakers (which we are seeking to bring in, roughly, every other year) and for holding interdisciplinary roundtables in partnership with other scholarly associations at Congress. In addition, the individual host universities typically offer some travel funding to student delegates and support for accessibility accommodations, though the precise amounts and services available will vary from event to event. Less tangibly, members would have opportunities for professional advancement that we can’t offer right now, meeting with university press editors at the Expo to discuss potential projects or bringing program officers from SSHRC or MITACS in to listen to our concerns.

Importantly, the conference would now move, enabling scholars based in different regions of the country who might not otherwise be able to attend our annual meetings in Toronto, and travel stipends can be stretched by combining several conferences into one trip.

Let us be clear: we have benefited immensely from our partnership with TCAF, and we know that the Festival has been and remains a draw for many conference attendees. But, at a time when the field of comics studies is showing immense growth in published research contributions, successful external grants, and numbers of scholars pursuing comics research, we feel that our society may not be able to keep up while remaining locked into these dates and this location – moreover, that it is important that comics studies and not only individual comics scholars be represented at the country’s largest gathering of humanities and social science researchers.

Table. Cotisations pour le Congrès 2018 (U. De Regina) / Registration Fees for Congress 2018 (U Regina)

Prècoces / Early Bird Rates

Règuliers / Regular Rates

Règuliers/Regular

$189

$225.75

Étudiants, retraités et sans salaire / Students, retired and unwaged

$73.50

$94.50

Link to the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Link to VOTING PAGE (May 30- June 06)


8 thoughts on “Proposal to join the CFHSS

  1. I realize my comments will be rather Toronto-centric, but one of the nice things about this association is a lot of “bang” for your buck. For all of us in Ontario, it is a rather good way to present and attend comics papers, and also the Comics exhibit with out paying a great deal of money. I was able to send two MA students to present papers this year but they would not be able to do so if it were in Vancouver or somewhere else just as easily.
    CFHSS is ok, but they charge a lot to be able to bring in big names for their Big Thinkers. They may or may not align with the interest of Comics scholars.
    If we are worried about young scholars from other regions,
    we could possibly give one or two travel grants to offset the cost, but I like it in Toronto every year. I wouldn’t go to Congress every year as it is costly.

  2. I’ve always oscillated on this. The “only-ever-Toronto” structure is badly unfair to out-of-province scholars; there’s no way around that. At the same time, though, I think we’ve created a truly unique conference with an amazing reputation. I think it’s an ideal incubation chamber for Canadian comics scholarship – the exchange of ideas and the collegiality are really wonderful. I worry that we’d lose that special-ness with Congress, but perhaps that’s just fear of change talking. I see the value of both approaches, but I’m scared of looking back on the TCAF days as the golden age or something.

  3. It’s a difficult decision for me as well. On a personal level, I don’t like the idea of giving up the Toronto/TCAF adjacent conference; I love the intimacy and–as a graduate student turned precarious faculty member–the affordability of it. And yet, as a junior academic who hopes to continue studying and teaching comics within the academy (hopefully in Canada), I think it’s probably important to move our society to a larger venue that’s accessible to more scholars from different parts of the country. Just my two cents.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Eleanor, Andrew, and Anna. I think we all recognize that this is a big decision. The executive really appreciates your feedback.

    But, speaking for myself, I think this is a necessary step to grow our field. We don’t have a lot of physical room left to grow in our current arrangement, and it’s hard to see how we can promote comics scholarship as a field without engaging with our colleagues in the way that Congress will enable us to do.

    To address Eleanor’s suggestion more specifically, I don’t think that one or two small travel grants can offset the access problem that always having the conference in Toronto creates. There are many more students (and, let’s not forget, contingently employed faculty who don’t even have access to the travel supports available to graduate students at many institutions) than we could ever support, and always putting the costs on the same participants doesn’t seem fair. And, while costs of registration for Congress are obviously higher, I think there’s a lot of bang for your buck there, too, if you elect to attend/present at multiple associations. Many of our members would also find receptive audiences in ACCUTE, the CCA, or the CGSA, for example.

  5. Thanks, Eleanor, for encouraging your MA students to come this year! But if we’re always in Toronto, students like that from elsewhere in the country will never have that opportunity to come and present at a relatively close conference specifically on comics. The CSSC does not have regional conferences. If the CSSC were to move around with Congress, we would still be in Ontario regularly, but we would also be in other places where we can reach out to local scholars and students interested in comics, and increase our network that way.

  6. I recognize that there are reasons to move the conference around, and there may be a case to be made for affiliating with Congress in terms of exposure. However, my own experience with Congress does not make me optimistic that such a link will do anything to enhance our numbers or our reputation. The Academic Conference on Canadian SF and Fantasy briefly linked up with Congress years ago, and saw its worst attendance levels ever (I believe); the added cost of Congress dissuaded many who usually attended (despite the fact that Congress was in Toronto that year, where the event is usually held anyway), and being at Congress did nothing to draw other Congress members to the sessions. Even when organizations already part of Congress have tried to do sessions on things like SF and other less canonical subjects, the results have been less than salutary, at least in the past. (I recall a dismal ACQL panel on SF, attended only by the panelists, one panelist’s partner, and–for part of the time–the Association Chair). I can’t say whether things have improved on that front, as I have not attended Congress regularly for a while, but I would be skeptical that attaching ourselves to Congress would bump our number or raise our profile. Certainly, the last time I was there–a year or two ago–there was not an overabundance of non-canonical programming that I saw.

  7. I am opposed to this and will vote so.
    The proposal is about careers and jobs not about comics, understanding comics, and the history of comics.
    Before most of you were born Curators like myself researched, wrote and exhibited comics to explain our everyday life. That popular culture could have some excellence and art to it.
    There is nothing unfair about out -of-province, as someone from Saskatchewan they know where they are and travel accordingly.
    As a recent author of a piece on democratic access to the arts through the public library this idea to disappear into academia worries independent scholars like me.

    Do you not understand how important democracy is with this great relationship with TPL? And for the future of text and image.

  8. I am also torn on this: I attended both the CSSC conference and Congress last month and had dramatically different experiences. Congress, this year as in all the years I have attended as a member of ACCUTE and the CDSA, was a mixed bag at best. I enjoy the networking opportunities and catching up with friends, but to echo an earlier comment, panels are infrequently well attended or moderated. I presented at a panel that would have had more presenters than audience members if a panelist hadn’t not shown up (another problem I’ve seen a lot at Congress).

    My experience at CSSC was, on the other hand, uniformly positive. I flew from Edmonton, and so distance/cost is an issue for me at the CSSC unlike many of my Toronto-based colleagues, but the experience I had this year was remarkable. You guys ran a wonderful conference, and the level of engagement was high. I understand that this is due to the diligence and devotion of the executive, and I expect that the new gang can put together a good conference as part of Congress, too. I also understand that we need room to grow. But I fear losing a vital conference to be just another society at Congress.

    I don’t know how I will vote yet. I understand the advantages of the proposal, but I really do worry about losing something great that I just found.

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