2018 NCSA Conference Information Minimize

39th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association

March 15-17, 2018

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Jacques Gréber, The Proposed Parkway: View from Logan Square to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1918.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the NCSA committee invited proposals that explore the notion of the vista in the nineteenth century. From personal gardens to public parks, from the street level to the top of a skyscraper, or from the microscope to the panoramic photograph, the nineteenth century was a moment when the idea of the vista changed from a narrow sightline to a sweeping, expansive view. How did theorists alter our historical perspective, broadening our notion of the world through science or religion? In what ways did power systems affect urban vantage points? How did man-made vistas reflect socio-cultural ideals? How did domestic spaces or nightlife transform with the widespread use of gas or electric lighting? How does the conceptual vista operate metaphorically? Topics include horticulture, landscapes and seascapes, new technology, photography, sightseeing, film and the theater, urban planning, visions and dreamscapes, shifting perceptions of the gaze, or literary or artistic descriptions or depictions of viewpoints. In contrast, papers consider the absence of vistas, such as mental or physical confinement or elements that obfuscate a view.

The committee received many thought-provoking proposals and is excited about the quality of the program,  which can be accessed here.


Registration is open. AV requirements are due January 1st, early registration closes on February 1st, and registration ends on February 28th.


Conference Venue

The conference will be held at the newly renovated Sonesta Rittenhouse (18th and Market Streets), in the heart of Center City Philadelphia and within easy walking distance of museums and Victorian Rittenhouse Square. 

The hotel block runs from check-in on Wednesday, March 14th, through check-out on Sunday, March 18th. Group rates will be available three days prior to and three days after the conference, pending availability. The reservation deadline is February 19th by 5pm.


Wednesday, March 14th

For those arriving on Wednesday the 14th, The Philadelphia Museum of Art is pay-what-you-wish from 5-8:45pm. 

Nearby restaurant suggestions: try the Art Museum Area’s Belgian Cafe, a favorite local pub. Or, Rittenhouse Square’s new plant-based hot spot Bar Bombón, where NCSA conference participants will receive 20% off from Wednesday through Saturday night; simply let the host know when you make your reservation, which is typically required.  

Thursday, March 15th

After our first day of panels, NCSA will host the Welcome Reception at the historic Union League of Philadelphia (5:30-7:30pm), where you may enjoy a drink in the private club, have a tour of the nineteenth-century institution, and catch up with NCSA colleagues. Light fare will be served.

Note that there is a dress code. Essentially, it is business casual. Jackets and ties, business suits, tailored pants, and dresses are preferred. Sneakers, jeans, untucked shirts, and turtlenecks (for men!), among other attire are not permitted.

Nearby restaurant suggestions: head to 13th street, where there are a string of delicious eats. Or to Nomad, where they serve up Roman-style pizza. Reservations are required to these restaurants.

Friday, March 16th

Join us for our Business Luncheon (11:45-2:15pm) at Sonesta, where Elizabeth Milroy (Drexel University) will present the keynote. Professor Milroy’s current research focuses on the history of cultural spaces, specifically public parks and historic sites in the city of Philadelphia. Milroy’s most recent accomplishment is her 2016 book, The Grid and the River: Philadelphia’s Green Places, 1682-1876, an interdisciplinary study of the Fairmount Park system.

You have the option to sign-up for one Friday-afternoon excursion tour (during the registration period). The excursions are a fun way to explore Philadelphia with NCSA members. Note that space is limited and that transportation is not provided, though the institutions are not far from the hotel. The hotel can call a cab. Or meet a walking guide at 2:45pm in the hotel lobby and head to your excursion. They are scheduled around 3-5pm; details will follow.  

The Barnes Foundation is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern European paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912 and 1951, the collection also includes important examples of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork. 

There are three Barnes tours: 

1) 3pm guided tour (sold out as of Jan.29) 
2) 3pm self-guided tour (still available)
3) 4pm guided tour (still available)  


 Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including "Slick Willie" Sutton and "Scarface" Al Capone.

The Mütter Museum has a unique collection of specimens and objects that reflect the human history of anatomy and medicine. Their collection ranges from seventh century BCE to 2014, although the majority of the collection dates from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. 

Saturday, March 17thNCSA’s last full day of panels, which will end around 5pm.

Questions? Email: