Constitution of the Society of Early Americanists


The Society shall be known as the Society of Early Americanists.


The purpose of this Society shall be to further the exchange of ideas and information among scholars of various disciplines who study the literature and culture of America to approximately 1830. The Society shall promote the exchange of ideas and information among its members through its internet site, a newsletter, an electronic listserv, and through meetings, joint research projects, and any other means the Society might deem appropriate.

The Society shall be a general not-for-profit organization as described in the appropriate sections of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States of America and shall meet requirements set forth in that Code.


Membership in the Society shall be open to any person or institution interested in its purposes, upon payment of one year’s dues. The dues structure is outlined in the Bylaws of the Society of Early Americanists. Only members in good standing shall have the right to vote on Society matters, and only regular and lifetime members can be elected to positions of executive office. A regular member is an individual dues-paying member. A lifetime member is an individual who paid a one-time lifetime membership due before this category of membership was discontinued.


The Society of Early Americanists shall maintain affiliation with the American Literature Association. The members of the executive committee may apply for affiliation with other appropriate scholarly organizations and consider requests from smaller or more specialized organizations for affiliation with the Society of Early Americanists.


The Society shall have a two-part Council of Officers, those serving on the executive committee and those serving on the advisory committee. The officers serving on the executive committee of the Society shall be a president, a vice president, and an executive coordinator. As outlined below, the executive officers hold elected posts. The officers serving on the advisory committee shall include the editor of the newsletter of the Society of Early Americanists (SEAN), the coordinator of the EARAM listserv, the webmaster of the Society’s internet site, the past president of the Society, the treasurer, the officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), one co-chair of the Junior Scholars’ Caucus, the Media and Communications Chair, and one other person, appointed at the wish and discretion of the president. Except in the case of the past president of the Society, the advisory officers hold appointed posts.

Terms of office of the members of the executive committee shall be two years. The executive coordinator shall be elected every two years from among members in good standing. The current executive coordinator shall automatically become the vice president; and the vice president shall automatically become the president upon the election of a new executive coordinator.

After the president’s term is complete, the president shall become a member of the advisory committee. Presidents are ineligible for election to the office of executive coordinator for three years after completing their two-year terms on the advisory committee following the completion of their terms as president.

The editor of the Society newsletter, the webmaster of the Society website, the DEI officer, the Media and Communications Chair, and the coordinator of the EARAM listserv are officers appointed by the executive officers for three-year renewable terms beginning in June 1992. The treasurer shall be appointed by the president to a five-year term, renewable at the discretion of a subsequent president.

Duties of the members of the council of officers are designated in the Bylaws for the Society of Early Americanists. The Council of Officers shall meet at least once a year, generally at the conference sponsored by the society.

If at any time an executive officer or an advisory officer cannot complete the term of office, the remaining members of the Council of Officers may appoint a member of the Society in good standing to serve that officer’s function until the election of the new executive coordinator shall take place. At the time of this election, there shall be an open election for the replacement of any executive officer who could not complete his or her term.


The Society shall conduct an election for a new executive coordinator every two years and under the direction of its existing executive coordinator. Any member in good standing can make one nomination for the post, and individuals may nominate themselves for election. In support of this process, the advisory committee shall form a nominating subcommittee to identify and recruit suitable candidates for election. All nominations must be in writing, directed to the existing executive coordinator. Elections to the post of executive coordinator shall require a simple majority of the voting members.


The executive officers may, at their discretion and for such terms as they deem appropriate, appoint any individual members who are in good standing to hold particular service posts for the organization. The executive officers may also appoint standing or ad hoc committees to serve at the will of the executive committee. Members so appointed may serve as consultants to the executive committee, but they shall have no vote at committee meetings, and they shall stand in advisory rather than executive functions to the Society. The SEA Junior Scholars’ Caucus is a group of graduate students and junior scholars who are members of the Society and participate in its conferences. The Junior Scholars’ Caucus has its own governing documents and organizational structure and shall elect its own leadership.


Regular members in good standing shall receive one bound copy of each issue of the journal Early American Literature (EAL) free of charge. Lifetime members can purchase a subscription of EAL at a discount specified by the University of North Carolina Press. In addition, all members will receive the Society newsletter and any other regular publications of the Society. All members will have access to the EARAM listserv.


The Society shall hold meetings annually to transact regular business, inform Society members of important news, and promote congenial relations among members present. The location of the annual business meeting shall be determined by the president in consultation with the executive officers and announced at least one month in advance of the relevant meeting. When the Society holds a biennial convention, co-sponsors a topics conference, or participates in a conference of an affiliate organization, the business meetings should take place at these venues.

Other special meetings of the Society may be arranged at the discretion of the executive officers, but no business meeting affecting the whole membership of the Society shall be discussed or concluded at such special meetings. Special meetings to be sponsored by the Society shall be coordinated through the office of the vice president.


Written proposals to change the Constitution must carry at least ten signatures of Society members in good standing. Proposals for changes shall be submitted to the president at least two months prior to a public business meeting. Proposed changes shall be announced to the members at least one month prior to the public meeting. Changes thus proposed and announced shall be discussed by members present at the meeting, but any changes to the Constitution shall be made through a referendum election to be conducted by the executive coordinator, after consultation shall have taken place at the Society business meeting. The institution of changes to the Constitution shall take place upon a two-thirds majority of the voting members.


Written proposals to amend or change the Bylaws of the Society of Early Americanists may be presented by individuals to the president of the Society. If accepted by the executive officers of the Society, such proposals shall then be considered by the Council of Officers. If the Council of Officers so wishes, voting on emendations or changes of the bylaws shall take place through a referendum election to be conducted by the executive coordinator. The institution of changes to the Bylaws shall require a two-thirds majority of the voting members.


In the case of the dissolution of the Society, any assets remaining after the obligations of the Society have been paid shall be distributed to such not-for-profit, exempt organizations under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of the United State of America (or as it may then be amended), available in the United States for scholarly or educational purposes similar to those of the Society, as the then-existing Council of Officers shall deem appropriate.

Carla J. Mulford, Founding President
Rosemary Fithian Guruswamy, Founding Vice-President
Sharon M. Harris, Founding Executive Coordinator

Executive Officers, 2023-2025

Sandra Gustafson, President
Kelly Wisecup, Vice President
Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Executive Coordinator

[1994; Revised and Approved, August 1, 2015; March 4, 2017; December 12, 2020; May 2022; October 2023]


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