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First meeting of the CESCCS (Bratislava, 11 December 1999)

Central European Steering Committee for Canadian Studies

First Meeting of the CESCCS

Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

December 11, 1999



(i) Members:

Monica Bottez (Romania) [MB]

Maria Huttova (Slovak Republic) [MH]

Katalina Kurtosi (Hungary) [KK]

Aleksander Kustec (Slovenia) [AK]

Anna Reczynska (Poland) [AR]

Don Sparling (Czech Republic) [DS]

(ii) Observer:

Mark Pepevnak (DFAIT Intern, Czech Republic)


Ljiljana Matic (Yugoslavia) [LM]

A. Morning Session

1. Opening

The meeting opened at 09:00 hrs, chaired by the convenor, DS. Thanks and appreciation were expressed by all to MH for the preparation and logistical arrangements for the weekend. DS further articulated the consensus that previous meetings in Grainau, Germany (February 1999) and Seregelyes, Hungary (May 1999) were insufficient to adequately deal with CESCCS administration.

2. Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted with two changes from the initial, e-mailed version (points 8. and 9., below). AK asked whether fiscal questions were to be excluded; DS responded that fiscal issues and grant requests would both be addressed under the rubric AOB (point 11., below).

3. Report of grant request

DS reported that a request for CAD 9 750 had been sent; funds received totalled CAD 8 500. (DFAIT regulations did not allow for a computer and printer to be funded, as they are considered capital costs.) The sum of CAD 8 500 was in addition to the previous sum of CAD 3 000 for publishing the proceedings of the Brno conference (see 7., below). DS noted that the application was sent in June, 1999; as the funding of the CESCCS was a completely new DFAIT initiative, it took some time for a decision to be made, and funds were only released in mid-November, 1999. MB noted that given the nascent stage of the CESCCS, such problems hopefully will be overcome in due course. DS pointed out that there were sufficient funds to (among other things): maintain the CE Canadian Studies home page; send up to ten CE Canadianists to the GKS conference at Grainau; cover the present meeting of the Steering Committee; and to pay for a part-time student employee at the CESCCS Secretariat (see 6., below).

4. Canadian Studies developments in CE

In roundtable-fashion, each committee member reported on the state of affairs of Canadian Studies in their respective home countries.

5. Grainau

DS noted that it was agreed with the GKS at Grainau (in February, 1999), and confirmed at Seregelyes (in May, 1999), that the CE Steering Committee would select the Canadianists to attend the following Grainau conference in 2000. DFAIT agreed with this protocol. After some subsequent misunderstandings, which were later resolved, it was decided that the best approach would be to incorporate suggestions from both the respective Canadian embassies in the region and the CESCCS.

It was accepted that there should be consistent criteria for selection; that is, individuals who are actively engaged in Canadian Studies teaching and/or research, as opposed to (graduate) students who may have a possible future interest in pursuing research in the field. On these bases, the following persons were chosen:


Ioan Dragan, Bucharest

Sorina Voiculescu, Timisoara

Ioan Les, Sibiu

Slovak Republic

Marian Gazdik, Bratislava


Edina Szalay, Nyiregyhaza

Milena Horvath, Budapest

Erika Nagy, Szeged


Marek Golebiowski, Warsaw

Krzysztof Andrzejczak, Lodz

Robert Klosowicz, Krakow

Czech Republic

Alois Hynek

In addition, the members of the Steering Committee will be attending, with the exception of AR, whose place will be taken by Nancy Burke (from Warsaw).

DS solicited opinions/nominations for two more candidates to attend the Grainau conference. AK suggested a possible candidate from Slovenia; DS noted that there might be further nominations from former-Yugoslavia or Bulgaria, and the matter was left unresolved for the present. DS noted that he would report on further developments via e-mail.

DS solicited opinions whether it was suitable that expenses be covered for MP to attend the conference. It was pointed out that this arrangement would be consistent with the protocol for the previous DFAIT interns, all of whom attended the conference in 1999 with embassy support.

6. CE Canadian Studies: Organisational Issues

(i) CE Canadian Studies Secretariat in Brno

DS noted that this was a new post to cover and coordinate activities in the region. At present there will be a student (Pavel Filip) maintaining the home page. DS mentioned that another student (perhaps a graduate student) will be modestly funded to carry out more in-depth research regarding the acquisition of books, resources, etc.; as well, a list of Canadianists would be drawn up, identifying scholars who were prepared to guest lecture at universities in the region. The Steering Committee should actively develop further responsibilities for the student-assistant position.

(ii) ICCS liaison

DS reported on attending the annual meeting of the ICCS Executive Council at Toronto, Ontario in May, 1999, as one of three CE observers invited. (Poland and Hungary were also represented.) DS reported that there were two important areas of discussion of particular relevance to CE Canadianists.

· The first concern was whether to increase the membership in ICCS. It was decided that the prior ‘freeze’ on membership would be lifted. In the coming years, as a result, the ICCS will be looking closely at the growth and activities of CS associations/groupings, with a view to possible membership expansion. In relation to the question of potential new members, the criteria for membership were also discussed and reviewed, and the Executive Council decided to retain the current ‘100 member minimum’ criterion for national membership.

Upon reporting of these developments, DS solicited opinions regarding the present national memberships in Central Europe. KK felt that Hungary was not very close to attaining one hundred members. AR noted that Poland could conceivably reach the aforementioned membership criterion, although it would not happen in the short-term future. Discussion arose as to whether it seemed favourable to develop a CE ‘multinational’ association, consisting of the Canadianists in the region. AK proposed that such a development should be set as a goal. DS countered that it was perhaps premature to articulate this as a goal at this stage. MH asked whether it would be possible to obtain a clearer guideline regarding the founding of a national association. AR asked whether the present status of the Polish national organisation of Canadianists was in any way problematical; MB and DS both stressed that it was not problematical.

· The second significant issue raised at the ICCS Toronto conference was whether, in view of the potential expansion of the ICCS, its programmes would be made available to non-member associations. DS reported that there was some discussion on this topic, but no general consensus was reached. In the past some ICCS support was made available to non-member organisations on an ad hoc basis, and it seemed possible that the status quo would be maintained.

DS noted that he would enquire further in regard to such possibilities; the morning session was then closed for a lunch break at 13:30.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

B. Afternoon Session

The meeting was reconvened at 15:00.

(iii) future activities and projects

Responsibilities of the Secretariat

DS noted that a questionnaire should be drawn up and distributed to CE Canadianists in order to ascertain needs. KK suggested that improving access to journals should be a priority. DS pointed out that many centres have extensive collections of Canadian journals, and that the Secretariat or support staff could maintain an updated record of these collections.

The secretariat will draw up a comprehensive list of programmes available to Canadianists. The list will include ICCS programmes (in so far as they apply to non-members), the National Library Exchange Programme, etc.

DS noted that he had received a fax from Rudy Wiebe regarding visits to Helsinki, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. Mr. Wiebe suggested that he would also be interested in visiting five or six other universities/countries in Autumn 2000/Spring 2001. AK asked if there were any other Canadian writers planning to travel to the region. AR mentioned that Janice Kulyk Keefer would be coming to Poland. MH suggested that a list of writers and itineraries be kept and circulated. DS pointed out that helping to facilitate such visits by Canadian writers and academics should be a responsibility of the graduate student employed at the Secretariat.

DS explained that, in general, there were two possibilities for writers, academics, etc. to travel to the CE region: either via direct support from DFAIT; or through the GKS via its outreach programme. The latter was advantageous in that the persons were already in the region, and thereby was more efficient and fiscally responsible. It was further noted that most Canadian writers and professors tend to visit the region in the summer months, after the academic year has ended.

Other activities

DS mentioned the idea which had been developing among Canadianists in the Czech and Slovak Republics for an innovative, shared seminar/course in Canadian Studies. The topic was slated to be ‘Multiculturalism in Canada’. The proposed course would be modular in nature, involving faculty exchanges between Prague, Brno and Bratislava, with a final weekend meeting, discussion and evaluation involving all of the participating students from the three schools. DS further noted that such a course would require some financial support for the course reader, and possibly some support for the final gathering.

There was considerable discussion on the usefulness of national bibliographies of works dealing with Canadian Studies. Steering Committee members were asked to assess the situation more closely in their respective countries (e.g., an estimate as to the amount of material published, when it was published, and in which languages, etc.), and to report back at Grainau.

Another point of discussion was that the spread of Canadian Studies beyond the fields of literature, history and political science must be a priority, and members were asked to try to determine the potential in their own universities and/or countries for this development. The discussion was to be revisited at Grainau, as well.

7. Publications

(i) Brno conference proceedings

DS noted that MP is to edit the Brno conference proceedings; that the work will be completed as soon as possible; and that the goal is to have drafts available for proofing at Grainau. DS further noted that Danielle Juteau’s paper had still not been forwarded after two requests, and unfortunately would likely not be included in the collection.

(ii) CE Journal of Canadian Studies

AK volunteered to edit the inaugural edition of the journal, which is slated to appear annually. He further requested that manuscripts be sent by May, 2000. DS commented that the decisions made at Seregelyes should be reviewed, and suggested that the journal should contain 6-10 articles, as well as reviews. A working title could be ‘The Image of Canada in Central Europe/Canada in the Eyes of Central Europe’. Consensus was reached that the deadline for submission would be revised to June 30, 2000. DS added that he would follow up on possibilities for funding.

8. Central European Canadianists Conference

DS noted that a series of complicated circumstances had led to potential scheduling problems with two future conferences in the CE region, in Poland and Romania. After some discussion, the participants suggested the following plan, which AR and MB agreed would serve as an adequate resolution: Poland would hold a national conference at Torun in April, 2001, as was recently agreed at the meeting of the Polish association of Canadianists, which would be attended largely by its members, with a modest international contingent of Canadianists (a maximum of fifteen was suggested); Romania would postpone the date of the next CECS conference, to be held at Bucharest, until the second half of October, 2001.

9. BACS conference in Edinburgh, Scotland (April 11-14, 2000)

DS announced that the outgoing president of BACS had informed him that their association was allocating six places for CE Canadianists at its upcoming conference. BACS would cover conference expenses, but could not cover travel costs. DS opened for discussion suggestions/nominations for these places. MB was interested to attend and would look at some means to cover travel expenses. KK suggested that Judit Kadar perhaps would go, and would follow up on this possibility. MH was interested in attending, and suggested that the respective national British Councils may be able to assist in covering expenses. AR proposed that Eva Welnic should represent Poland. AK was willing to attend, as well. DS closed discussion with a promise to learn of a BACS deadline in order to confirm attendance.

10. Report on activities of the European Network of Canadian Studies [ENCS]

DS reported that ENCS funds an annual student seminar on graduate work in Canadian Studies, and that Brno would host the next seminar in Autumn, 2000. DS also noted that Cornelius Remie (ENCS convenor) would approach Dr. Joseph Gosnell to give the keynote address. The seminar is actively seeking participation from doctoral Canadianists in the region, as well as stronger Master’s students. A balance of languages and subjects will be important to achieve, and students who have not attended previous seminars should be given precedence. DS also asked the Steering Committee members to assist in the selection of students.

11. AOB

DS commented that in future, there would be funding needed for the following: funding for the Romanian conference; for positions at the Polish conference; and for the CECS journal. DS further noted that the next budget should include some funding for the work of the Steering Committee.

MH and DS both articulated the dilemma of being unable to receive some funding for capital costs. KK suggested that via ICCS, a request be made for some funding of classroom book sets.

AK asked about improving the CECS home page. DS noted that Pavel Filip would be sending out letters gathering information about programmes and scholar/student/university profiles in the near future.

DS noted that Western European associates have asked that the CE Canadianists attempt to re-establish links with Canadianists in Yugoslavia and in former-Yugoslavia. He also noted that the ENCS initially approached the Italian association to assume these responsibilities, but it was felt that the present solution would be more amenable and efficient. DS noted that the ENCS had also hoped for links to be developed with Canadianists in Bulgaria.

It was confirmed that the Steering Committee would next meet in Grainau on February 19, 2000.

12. Closing

The convenor closed the meeting at 19:00, with all expressing thanks for Maria Huttova’s kindness and hospitality, and a genuine satisfaction at having addressed the overflow of issues and questions before the conference in Grainau.

Mark Pepevnak                                                                             Brno, Czech Republic, February 11, 2000

Don Sparling