- Report of the President:The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study
The 101st annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study was celebrated in downtown Chicago, Illinois from April 28 to April 30, 2011. North Park University and the main conference organizer, Charles Peterson, hosted this landmark meeting capably and efficiently, and provided a very enjoyable setting for the participants.
The Executive Council of the Society met on Thursday, April 28, and the general membership meeting was held after the last Friday afternoon session, as has been the custom in the last several years. President Jason Lavery presided over both meetings. Special interest in the celebration of SASS's first 100 years, together with the good fortune of a volcano-free conference weekend, contributed to a healthy attendance total of 265 paid participants. This represented an increase of thirty-three participants over the attendance at the 2010 conference in Seattle, where there were understandably many last-minute forced cancellations due to volcano-related travel restrictions. Included in the attendance total at this year's meeting were fourteen former Presidents of SASS, who were specially invited to attend the meeting and to provide their historical perspectives on the first 100 years of SASS in special plenary sessions on Thursday evening and late Saturday afternoon.
The plenary welcome on Thursday evening began with President Jason Lavery's centenary State-of-the-Society address (which is now also available for listening as an mp3 file on the home page of the SASS website). Each of the fourteen former presidents of the society in attendance at the conference then took a turn conveying memories of SASS during his or her term of service, providing the conference attendees [End Page 609] with a running historical retrospective of the society's development; in addition, others read written statements from the seven living former SASS presidents who could not be in attendance. A clear impression from hearing these anecdotes and memories was that the SASS conference has evolved from a small, mutually-familiar group of scholars who could meet as a plenary group for an entire conference, to the current multidisciplinary, concurrent-panel format with strong graduate-student participation that we see today (in Chicago, for example, there were seven sessions with ten concurrent panels each). An enduring appeal of SASS for many members has been the sense of personal connection; as President Lavery emphasized in his address, for many of those attending our much larger conference today, SASS is the only "Scandinavian Department" they have, since their academic appointments are often at institutions without a dedicated Scandinavian program. As the society continues to grow, professionalize, and change over the coming years, it is worth preserving from our collective history the sense of intellectual home and academic friendship that these former SASS presidents conveyed in their remarks.
In a departure from the usual format, the organizers for the Chicago conference also set aside the final presentation slot on Saturday afternoon for a second plenary session that allowed for more personal sharing of memories by the membership of SASS as well. Janet Rasmussen, who was President of SASS from 1991-93, led off the session with her own overview perspective on the development of SASS, and long-time members were invited to share their own memories for the remainder of the session. Even those in the audience who did not personally know many of the people mentioned came away with a long view of the society's history that will serve us well as we begin the second century of SASS.
The meeting of the Executive Council on Thursday afternoon included reports on both of the SASS-administered scholarships. Steven Sondrup reported that the committee appointed to oversee the first competition for the new Einar and Eva Lund Haugen Memorial Scholarship was able to select a strong applicant for the award, Tim Frandy of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The committee consisted of Jennifer Attebery (Chair), Tracey Sands, Steven Sondrup, and Todd Nicol. Our thanks go to Jennifer Attebery for her service on the committee as she rotates off; joining the committee for 2012, which will be chaired by Tracey...