Register Button Minimize


2019 NCSA Conference Information Minimize

2019 NCSA Conference Information

40th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association

March 7-9, 2019 

Kansas City, Missouri


Thomas Hart Benton, Achelous and Hercules (1947), Smithsonian American Art Museum

The 2019 NCSA conference in Kansas City will examine the theme of explorations in the history, literature, art, music and popular culture of the nineteenth century. Disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to this theme are welcome from North American, British, European, Asian, African and worldwide perspectives. From the early nineteenth century, when Lewis and Clark paddled through the Kansas City area on their way up the Missouri River to explore the North American continent, through the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the building of factories and railroads, the mechanization of agriculture, and the advent of mass-produced cultural artifacts, the American Midwest became a crossroads for explorers and inventors, hucksters and entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, poets and dreamers who pursued their discoveries toward destinations made possible by the wide-open spaces of the Great Plains. In this way, the Kansas City region is emblematic of a larger set of trends in the global evolution of culture that radically altered the fundamental conditions of human existence during the nineteenth century. Papers will explore the following questions: How does the discovery of new geographical knowledge change the perception of human possibility? How do innovations in science and technology affect the development of literature, music and art? How does the recovery of previously unheard voices – of women, of workers, of ethnic minorities and people of color – influence the understanding of social history in America and the wider world? Topics for investigation include encounters between Western explorers and indigenous people; the impact of steamships and railways upon changing perceptions of time and space; resistance and accommodation between traditional folkways and mass-produced culture; and the development of new idioms in literature, art and music to express the broader horizons of nineteenth-century self-awareness.

The proposal submission deadline has now passed. Acceptance decisions were sent out by email in late October. A current draft of the program is here.

Roundtable discussions will provide conference attendees the opportunity to engage in spirited conversation and collaborative exchange of information and resources. The format of roundtable discussions will be lively, interactive discourse among presenters and conference participants, not lecture or panel-style delivery. Roundtable sessions will be 80 minutes long. Presenters should regard themselves primarily as facilitators and should limit their own prepared remarks to five minutes or less. Extensive collaboration among the presenters before the conference is encouraged, since the goal is to foster extensive, diverse, and cogent perspectives on interdisciplinary research topics of general interest to NCSA members. Roundtables should be pre-organized by a group of 4-8 presenters. Roundtable proposals are now closed, and acceptance decisions were sent out in late October.

Conference Registration is now open (via the Registration link above). Early registration closed on January 15, and registration ends on February 15. Registration rates: $230 for NCSA members, $200 for adjunct and Emeritus faculty,  graduate students, and independent scholars who are NCSA members.  The Registration reimbursement deadline is February 15

Conference Directors: Jim McKusick and Jennifer Phegley, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Conference Venue

The conference will be held at the newly renovated Marriott Country Club Plaza in midtown Kansas City, adjacent to the open-air shops and restaurants of the Country Club Plaza and in easy walking distance of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Our hotel room block runs from check-in on Wednesday, March 6, through check-out on Sunday, March 10. Group rates will be available from March 5 through March 11, pending availability. The hotel reservation deadline is February 15 by 5:00 p.m. Use this hotel reservation link to book your stay. Our special group rate is $169 per night (plus taxes). Up to four people may share a hotel room at no additional cost.

Wednesday, March 6

For those arriving on Wednesday, March 6, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is open 10:00am-5:00pm, and admission is always free. It is an easy ten-minute walk from the Marriott Hotel.

Nearby restaurant suggestions: For an elegant buffet-style lunch, try the Nelson-Atkins Museum’s Rozzelle Court Restaurant, serving masterfully crafted salads, sandwiches, soups, breads and desserts. For dinner, explore the 45 restaurants located in the Country Club Plaza immediately adjacent to the Marriott Hotel; perennial favorites include Hogshead Kansas CityJack Stack Barbecue and Seasons 52. Dinner reservations are recommended but not required.

Thursday, March 7

After our first day of panels, NCSA will host the Welcome Reception in the conference hotel (5:30-7:30pm), where you may enjoy a drink at the cash bar and catch up with NCSA colleagues. Light fare will be served.

Nearby restaurant suggestions: In addition to the Country Club Plaza dining options noted above, you will find many colorful local dining opportunities in historic Westport, just a five-minute drive by taxi, Uber or free hotel shuttle from the Marriott Hotel. During the early nineteenth century, Westport was a supply depot where pioneers stocked up before venturing westward on the California, Oregon and Santa Fe trails. Favorite restaurants include BluestemMcCoy’s Public House and Q39 Barbecue. Dinner reservations are recommended but not required.

Friday, March 8

Join us for our Business Luncheon (12:00-2:30pm) at the conference hotel, where John Herron (University of Missouri-Kansas City) will present the keynote address, "Stuffed: Nature and Science Behind the Glass." A specialist in nineteenth-century American social and cultural history, Professor Herron’s research focuses on environmental history, the American West, and regional studies. His published work includes Science and the Social Good (Oxford); Human/Nature (New Mexico); and Wide-Open Town (Kansas).

You have the option to sign up for one of the following Friday-afternoon excursion tours (during the registration period). The excursions are a fun way to explore Kansas City with NCSA members. Note that space is limited and that transportation provided only as indicated below.

Friday Excursion Tour Options:

The Arabia Steamboat Museum is a unique Kansas City attraction: a time capsule of life on the American frontier in the mid-nineteenth century. It displays thousands of artifacts salvaged from the Arabia, a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1856 with over 200 tons of cargo. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the everyday objects that made life possible for the pioneers in the 1800s. It is the single largest collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world! Meet at 2:30 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel lobby for this excursion tour. Tickets are available by advance registration for a self-guided tour of the museum (through the Conference Registration link above). Round-trip private bus transportation and admission to the museum is included in the $30 cost of your tour registration. Once your Steamboat Museum tour is concluded, you may return to the hotel by our private bus, or the bus can drop you off at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in time for the 5:00 p.m. NCSA Reception noted below.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Artrecognized as one of America’s finest art museums, is best known for its new Bloch Galleries, featuring Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, plus its Asian art, photography, American paintings, American Indian and Egyptian galleries. The museum is open 10:00am-9:00pm on Fridays, and admission is always free. For the Friday Art Museum excursion tours, meet with a NCSA Conference volunteer at 2:45 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel lobby and walk over to the museum (an easy 10-minute walk). At 3:00-4:00 p.m., we will offer free guided tours by museum curators to (1) the American Art Collection, (2) the Asian art collection, and (3) the European art collection. At 4:00-5:00 p.m., we will offer free docent-led tours of the Napoleon: Power and Splendor special exhibition. You must register in advance for these free gallery tours (through the Conference Registration link above).


All conference participants are invited to attend the NCSA Reception at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (5:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday). Light fare and refreshments will be served. This event is free, but you must register in advance (through the Conference Registration link above). Following this reception, all conference participants will have free admission to the Napoleon: Power and Splendor special exhibition (open until 9:00 p.m.).


Restaurant suggestions: Once the NCSA Reception has concluded, you may wish to have dinner in the museum’s Rozzelle Court Restaurant, offering a seasonal sit-down dinner menu and live music in a 15th-century Italian courtyard (advance reservations are required). Or you may wish to explore the 45 restaurants located in the Country Club Plaza. Walk back to the hotel on your own, or you may return to the hotel by taxi or Uber.


Saturday, March 9

NCSA’s last full day of panels, which will end around 5:00pm.

NCSA offers Student and non-tenure-track Faculty Travel Grants of $500 to support the presentation of a paper at the 2019 conference. Further information is available here.

Questions? Email: