Monday, July 23, 2018 - 18:19

NCIS Conference 2019



Summary of Thirtieth-Anniversary Conference


“Making Connections, Meeting Challenges”

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA
June 21–23, 2019




Elizabeth Coons (NCIS Communications Officer)


NCIS marked its thirtieth anniversary of the Coalition with a 3-day international multidisciplinary conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Festivities included the conference dinner, an NCIS ‘30th birthday’ cake, and an award to our president, Dr. Amanda Haste, for her resourceful and energetic leadership. 

Delegates pronounced the conference a resounding success on every front, and we are pleased to present you with this summary of the conference, whose theme was “Making Connections, Meeting Challenges.” “Making Connections” proved an excellent descriptor of the conference.  Almost every kind of diversity characterized the attendees: country and continent of origin, primary language, discipline, type of affiliation, and even type of presence. Taking advantage of innovations in data transfer, two of our distant members (from India and North Korea, respectively) participated via Skype.  Appropriately, at least two of the presentations focused on the challenges and learning opportunities that appear when such different perspectives convene.

Practicalities Delegates stayed in a semi-sylvan student housing and at the centrally located Hotel UMass, at the campus center on a favorable conference rate. The dorm suites were very well equipped, although certain essential commodities (soap, tea/coffee, coat hangers, basic crockery/cutlery) would have been welcome.  Our president, showing imaginative pragmatism, arrived two days early and was thus able to provide most of these basics by the time delegates arrived.
The IT (AV) support was invaluable, especially in being rapid, responsive, and calmly delivered.  The catering, including the many delightful coffee breaks, was excellent, and generally timely.
The Amherst campus is served by both Boston Logan and Barnard, and we also introduced a ride-sharing initiative (coordinated by NCIS Secretary Bridget Sanchez); this was much appreciated as it saved time, cash, and logistical stress.  Sharing journeys also increased "bonding" time, meaning several delegates arrived already knowing at least one other person. We will be sure to offer ride-sharing for future conferences.
Car-sharing was also successfully employed for the offsite conference dinner at Chili’s in downtown Amherst, organized by Board Member Dr Valerie Abrahamsen, was attended by around 80% of the delegates. The venue was chosen to ensure affordability for all, but because of NCIS Treasurer Phil Stover’s sound budgeting and financial management (and a bit of luck in our insurance arrangements) we were able to cover delegates’ meals from NCIS funds.
The following summary outlines the program content, consisting of six paper sessions and two panels, framed by two keynote addresses: the opening keynote by Professor Emily Rose, and the closing keynote by NCIS Board Member Phil Stover. 
Opening Keynote Address:
Professor Emily Rose, a medieval historian by training, gave the address, which indeed set the tone for the conference.  Prof. Rose has worked both outside the walls and from within their center.  She is a visiting scholar in Harvard's program in medieval studies and won the 2016 Emerson prize given by Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter (awarded annually to a scholar who creates engaging writing from an earlier academic dissertation).
Professor Rose has chosen to become an informed advocate of independent scholars.  In this keynote, she used her historian's skill of taking a position distinctly outside her topic to illuminate its outlines.  Her findings, surprisingly, illuminate essential needs of scholars inside the walls as well.  She summarized these needs as respect, resources, and relationship.  Extending these to independent scholars is not only humane but also a time-saver and an information bonus to us all.  Current problems faced by independent scholars and adjuncts include being classed together with graduate students in competitions for funding, fellowships, and recognition. As a result, graduate students, with their deep and current affiliations, have significant advantages: academic institutions, even learned societies, tend to prefer graduate students in awarding fellowships and recognition so much of the available funding goes to graduate students, and almost none to independent scholars in the field, regardless of their greater knowledge and experience.  Of a piece with this oversight is forgetting to treat independent scholars as the proven scholars that they are.  Affiliation with a university is taken as a test of qualification in one's field, when in fact such affiliation is mediated by factors such as socio-political influence. Further, independent scholars are often expected to work without pay as if their profession were a hobby.
Prof. Rose centered finally on the proposition that scholarship is fundamentally a conversation.  A conversation that is also a pursuit of truth cannot usefully exclude anyone who has met its essential terms.  These terms represent not affiliation or funds but scholarly qualification and practice. In these terms, omitting independent scholars in the conversations of one's discipline results in an incomplete practice thereof.
Paper Sessions:
Session 1 “Creating/Recreating Genealogies (Chair: Dr Annie Rehill) examined the historian's challenge of extracting narratives from primary and even artifactual sources.

(a) The first speaker, Dr. Amanda Haste (FRANCE) spoke on the nineteenth-century British colony in Marseille.  While centered in the seemingly settled and civilized time of Queen Victoria’s reign, Dr Haste noted that the 19C Colony faced many of the same challenges as present-day expatriates and migrants, and explored the ways in which the ‘English Church’ in Marseille met expatriates’ needs for community and identity as well as their spiritual needs,
(b) The second speaker, Dr. Karin Amer (FRANCE) showed that Freud and Jung, each famous in his psychological field, drew wisdom from the less well-known but perhaps equally innovative French psychiatrist Théodore Fluornoy.  Dr. Amer, who is a hospital psychiatrist in Paris, gave the entire presentation, technical as it was, in English.  We were mightily impressed with her effort and technical feat as well as by the unusual material that she shared, and delegates also impressed by asking questions almost entirely in French, so that Dr Amer could answer fluently; her responses were ably interpreted into English by chair Dr Annie Rehill, ensuring lively discussion.
(c) Dr. Boria Sax (USA) presented an unusual view of Thanksgiving by bringing our attention to the ritualistic elements of the Thanksgiving tradition, and particularly the role of the turkey as a sacrificial offering. He showed examples of numerous early greeting cards to illustrate the turkey’s position of a pampered creature that was later to be sacrificed. 

Session 2 “Challenging the Status Quo” (Chair: Jeff Scheuer) focused on the impacts that scholars from newly vocal groups are beginning to have on traditions of scholarship.
(a) Sherry Boschert (USA) presented a paper titled "Intersectional Activism Under Title IX," the legislation supporting equality in education across gender. Boschert illustrated the importance of considering other potential axes of marginality besides gender; she noted that equality across gender in education is not sufficient or even possible to achieve without considering race, ethnicity, class, disability, sexual orientation, and citizenship status.
(b)  Dr. Susan Roth Breitzer's presentation.  "Together and Apart; The Changing Relationship between Independent Scholars and Learned Societies" began by giving a brief history of learned societies and the place of independent scholars within them. In doing so, she examined the way selected learned societies in the humanities have responded to the growing presence of independent scholars, as well as what additional roles they can play, both on their own and in partnership with NCIS, as "part of the solution."
(c) Finally, Dr Darnella Davis (USA) described her experience of using her family’s oral history and primary demographic data together to identify a history that had been obscured by the contemporary academic conventions.  She revealed inequities that arose because the administrators of the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887could not apply the policy in contexts of mixed race. Dr Davis argued that historians do well to question any categories within “settled” history that obscure significant facts. In this case, "obscured facts" were the existence of prosperous mixed-race communities, and of Native Americans who did not receive the land requirements due to them as Native Americans, because they also had African-American and Caucasian ancestral blood.

DAY 2 opened with a panel discussion on “Career Strategies for Independent Scholars” (Chair: Dr Valerie Abrahamsen) that let us compare three very different routes to independent scholarship.
a) Dr. Val Abrahamsen (USA) began the panel by giving the opening presentation. Her “retirement” seems only nominal, given her continuing creative outreach and scholarly activity.  Dr. Abrahamsen described a course of taking all the steps that tradition would recommend—earning deep qualifications, publishing papers, and seeking academic employment.  Her final “traditional” step, like many of ours, entailed seeking work in university administration.  While she had found some success in the domain of W-2 work, she began the “sole proprietor” model of independent scholarship, developing her own plan of outreach and “inventory” of presentation-ready publications.  One of Dr. Abramansen’s demonstrations, which were unassuming but valuable, was that the orderly layout that she developed as a Doctor of Theology also served to focus her outreach efforts.  She made a series of “content suggestions” which read like a complete “business plan” for people whose “product” is independent scholarship.  It is in the active voice, and the imperative mood, the recommended form for procedural writing.  Sample steps include "Determine which of your published books and articles can be adapted to lectures/presentations and for which kinds of audiences." That step could result in a wider distribution of one's considered, researched ideas than often accrues to affiliated—even tenured—scholars.  Dr. Abrahamsen also included lists of suggestions on publicity, engagement recordkeeping, and even financial reporting!
b) Elizabeth Coons (USA) took the path of the double life--that is, having a day job in the nonacademic field of technical/medical writing, while using weekends and other spare time on independent scholarship.  That method can make for financial security and a kind of progress in scholarship if one's work-searches entail soul-searching. That choice led Coons to set aside time slots for writing, emulate efficient writers and students, and take self-improvement steps. Beyond these personal advantages, sticking with independent scholarship resulted in many interesting discussions during technical working days. The audience of programmers, product managers, and other technical writers proved to be a very helpful sounding board for new propositions. Coons also found some “cross-revelation:” academics illuminated contracted writing and vice versa. For example, medical writing is more accessible to most independent scholars than is most software-related writing because medical writing is organized with the hierarchical subordination and enumeration recommended in Cicero’s rhetoric (“Enumeratio is a rhetorical term for the listing of details—a type of amplification and division.”
c) Dr. Amanda Haste (FRANCE) also described an indirect journey into independent scholarship. After 30 years as a professional musician she then went on to do a music degree, an MA, and finally a PhD in musicology, without any thought of an academic career. However a move to France led to her becoming a FR-EN translator, and this led to an adjunct post teaching translation courses at Aix-Marseille University, and then to teaching English to music and musicology students. Dr Haste advised the audience to be proactive: - “Offer a talk/lecture; tell people you have given this lecture; someone will invite you to give your lecture to them, “(preferably for some renumeration, as with Val’s model).
•  Be visible: talk to people at conferences, go to seminars, ask questions.
• Be proactive in promoting independent scholarship, and specifically NCIS: don’t wait to be asked.
• Provide full copy for publishers/learned societies/disciplinary societies to use. Or ask NCIS and we’ll provide it for you!
• Above all, wear your scholarship with pride. It is the quality of your work that defines you, not the post you may hold.
Session 3 (Chair: Dr Sandra Ham) introduced two young scholars who focused on different aspects of “Re-imagining models of Global Connection and Scholarship”. 
(a) Christian Gibbons (USA) presented his work on global citizenship, “Re-imagining Communities in a Globalized World.” In a highly disciplined presentation, he described emerging movements toward globalization, global governance, and global citizenship.  He reports that we cannot yet rely on these concepts to replace nationhood.  This condition is true in part because old concepts of national sovereignty ("the Westphalian model") remain.  However, global citizenship is not yet an actionable concept because educational and administrative means of creating true global citizens do not yet exist.
(b) Dr. Angela Frusciante (USA) then presented her paper "Working with a Spiral as Geometric Archetype: How a Group of Change Agents Shifted Philanthropic Inquiry Methods toward Equity."
Session 4 “Communities of Resistance: Immigrants and the Indigenous” (Chair: Dr. Janet Smith) brought two impressive historical papers examining the experiences of the outsider in American society.  
(a) Dr. Gavin Wilk (IRELAND) described the substantial contribution to the United States made by one group of immigrants.  His presentation, “Bravery and Devotion to Duty:” Irish Immigrant Nurses in the American Red Cross during World War I” detailed an
undertold aspect of World War I and of immigration into the US.  Dr. Wilk gave a fascinating insight into the lives and motivations of the eighteen Irish nurses who volunteered their services to the American Red Cross during World War I.  Using a diversity of historical sources, including, contemporary newspapers, and Red Cross files, the forgotten lives of these courageous women were reinstated into the historiography of women’s agency and involvement in the conflict. 
(b) In “Navigating Freedom, Creating Sustainability” Dr. Renee Neely (USA) enlightened us on the fugitive slave communities (marronage) living in the Dismal Swamp area on the borders of Virginia and North Carolina; this continued the session theme of outsiders forging a life in U.S.A. society, by examining the lives of the escaped slaves during the first half of the nineteenth century and the communities they established.  Within the safety of the swamp, they experienced liberty, despite being surrounded by hostile slave owners who viewed them as a threat to authority and society. Neely put forward a cogent argument that an understanding of the Marronage, a sustainable community within the seemingly inhospitable environment of the swamp, could inform our search for an eco-friendlier world today for marginalized communities.
Session 5 “Cultural Connections through Art and Language” (Chair: Dr Margaret DeLacey) showed that it is sometimes revealing to look at a cultural phenomenon of interest through the lens of another culture.
(a) The first paper, “Address Forms in Ecuadorian Spanish: An Analysis of Pronominal and Nominal Forms from FaceBook Messenger Data," was presented by Dr. Jordan Lavender (USA).  This study examines a topic in Hispanic sociolinguistics: community-building in a city in the Ecuadorian Andes. The tools used include a social-media application (FB Messenger), which can record and aggregate communication, allowing comparison.  The elements of comparison were the formal and informal forms of second-person address (usted and tu) which indicate formality and hence community building.  However, there are complications, including dual uses of usted in Colombia.  Dr. Lavender duly reported the complication of dual uses of usted in Colombia
(b) The second paper, given via video link by Hyun Jun Cho (SOUTH KOREA) was titled “Egyptomania in Ancient Rome: An Exploration of the Influence of Ancient Egypt on Rome as Reflected in Roman Art and Architecture." Mr Cho opened a new and unusual window into the culture of ancient Rome by showing that culture's fascination with ancient Egypt. "Egyptomania in Ancient Rome" examines a fascination that grew from Rome's occupation of Egypt about two thousand years ago.  The mysterious, exotic allure of Egypt influenced Rome and created an interest in Ancient Egypt that influenced art and architecture in ancient Rome, and that continues well into the modern era. Mr. Cho supported his statements with examples from Roman temple architecture, piazza sculpture, and painting.
(c) Dr. Annie Rehill (USA) spoke about "Creative Expressions of Connection and Survival: The Métis,” focusing on the role of art and language in maintaining a culture at a more elemental or existential level. Dr. Rehill showed the efforts of an indigenous group in Canada, the Metis. These people transcended postcolonial marginalization by using traditional art forms, fables, and archaic- heroic myth to build community and self-esteem. Their efforts have also brought them recognition as a designated Canadian indigenous group and corresponding socio-economic benefits.

On Day 3, the second panel discussion “In Search of a Wider Audience: Getting Published within Academia and Beyond” (Chair: Isabelle Flemming) presented several newly available ways of publishing and publicizing one’s work. 
(a) The first speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge (USA) presented “Podcasts: Public History: Real History? What does 21st-century scholarship look like?”  reporting on three problems that now attend historical scholarship in academe 1) That unless historians become significantly more accessible to the public, they run the risk of becoming obsolescent. 2. Even independently of that risk, the exclusion of lay audiences misses many valuable and promising opportunities to create a more informed citizenry. 3). When historians address these problems by writing articles for publication in newspapers or publicly accessible media, these works are not considered "peer-reviewed, 'or serious scholarship. These productions were not counted in academic tenure files or allowed to advance the writer’s candidature for tenure. Dr. Keohane-Burbridge introduces the term “public history” and uses it to describe these lay-accessible historical publications.
(b) A family emergency prevented Dr Kristeen Cherney (USA) from presenting, but her presentation, “Self-Publication: Exploring the Potential Opportunities and Challenges for the Independent Scholar," may be available in electronic form later in the summer.
(c) Independent scholar and publisher Phil Stover (USA) gives the phrase ‘self-publishing’ a new meaning. Rather than using commercial "publishing solutions" or "author solutions," he has created his own press and physically produces limited editions of his works.  In book creation, though he has his own press, he writes his manuscript, obtains collegial editing services, then uses outside providers for services such as book cover design. Having produced his own physical books, he is free to give review copies to education departments. This strategy is useful in getting one's factual books incorporated into educational curricula.  He warned that the process requires collaboration, ideally with Ingraham Bake and Taylor, a publisher who helps in distributing the work of independent authors.
This session informed and supported many of us who seek new routes to publication. Balancing Keohane’s expansion of publishing into podcasting, Stover demonstrated unusual strategies in publishing palpable books; he has also combined, within one life, several careers and discipline masteries. We in the audience had much ado to distinguish his ingenuities of publication from ingenuities of professional projection.
Session 6 “Challenging Society & Culture” (Chair: Dr. David White).
(a) Dr. Janet Smith (ENGLAND) focused on a topic in the democratizing of London, a process that began in the last third of the ninetieth century.  Dr. Smith traced the campaign led by Helen Taylor, a member of the London School Board for a working-class and underprivileged section of the city. She realized that improvement for Londoners in these circumstances could best be achieved by giving the children an education that would be free, civically advancing, economically advancing, gender-equal, and independent of religious organizations.  Dr. Smith showed how Taylor used education, to establish a broadly based and enduring movement toward democratization, in part by educating working-class children about public debate and civic advocacy.  This research, from which Dr Smith is writing a book, is particularly useful because democratization can be difficult to chart, and Dr. Smith has found a way to link its growth to acts and records of a distinct, institution.
(b) Dr. Puneet Kaur Grewal (INDIA) gave the final paper, “Runaway Cases and Honour Killings: Understanding Misogyny and Familial Conflict” by video link from India. This paper related honor killings both to misogyny and to familial fears of shame and ostracization. In turn, Dr Grewal relates these extreme emotions to ancient or cultural concepts such as India's castes, and situates these extreme emotions within anthropological concepts such as animistic/primitive ideas of purity. These include the ideas that honor as resides in women's bodies and that impurity can contaminate or infect. Dr. Grewal shows some of the beliefs that generate extreme fears and other emotions, without which knowledge honor killings can be difficult to understand. At the same time, she suggests the kinds of education that can reduce or prevent honor killings and other extreme attempts to control women's choices, movements, education, marriages, and other forms of agency.
The papers throughout the conference all elicited great interest from the audience, and we greatly look forward to reading the peer-reviewed extended papers in forthcoming conference-themed issues of The Independent Scholar.

Closing Keynote:  Philip Stover (NCIS Board Member, publisher, educational administrator)
Having given us useful strategies on self-publishing in his panel presentation, Stover gave a message of enthusiasm, using an amusing figure from his family history.
“Enthusiasm stew,” in his parents’ household, was an end-of-week dinner solution that combines leftovers from earlier meals of that week. In other words, you threw “everything you had” into it” Its application to us includes the message that independent scholarship is an excellent way in which we can use what we have—our academic training and other experience. We also have the power to use our academic training to own interests.  He also pointed out that data processing affords an enormous opportunity for presenting one's information and telling one's own story.  The diversity of Stover’s interests made a real and upbeat demonstration.
In this address, Stover seems to match his specific publishing pointers with "meta-pointers" --actionable findings from his long and varied experience.  Phil's independent scholarship is not only wide-ranging and expert but also entrepreneurial.  This combination makes him ideally suited to give pointers or actionable advice on some of the "ultimate questions" of independent scholarship:
1.    Be clear about what your budget is; independent scholarship does best if you have a clear idea about income and outgo.  Clarity can exist without great wealth, but it should be established first
2.    Do not feel "less than—"that is, measure your contribution or potential contributions only as a subset of what could have happened had you had an academic appointment in a specific field.  If that contribution sector is relatively small, as it is for most of us, there are sectors outside it that would not have been likely to emerge from the ordinary course.
3.    Do not think, "if only certain things had been different, I would have been able to make the life contribution I wanted to." We cannot assume that other things would have remained equal.
4.    Do not fear to use all your experience toward your success in independent scholarship.  Do not try to keep the "unscholarly" abilities out.  It is true that that inclusion makes your field different than it would have been intramurally, but it could yield even better illuminations.
5. Also, data-processing capabilities increase the range of things that independent scholars can do and provide new ways to "tell our stories."

Phil's keynote can be described as resonating with Emily's. Each described a series of critical points that help to determine one's success and happiness in independent scholarship. Dr. Rose spoke of the "public" critical conditions, or the conditions that must be met to make scholarly communities inclusive of independent scholarship, and to shrink the gulf between intramural and extramural states.   Phil, conversely, spoke of critical conditions that must be met, and choices made, at the level of the individual independent scholar, to make that vocation productive and fulfilling.   Both keynote addresses contained roadmaps coextensive with the entire proposition of independent scholarship.  These pointers can help to direct most of us for the next few years and helped to make the conference useful, illuminating, fascinating, and inspiring.










10.30-12.00 Registration; Equipment testing (Fri presenters only) 

12.00            PRESIDENT'S WELCOME 

12.15             Lunch

  1.15             KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Professor Emily M. Rose: 

                      “Life outside the walls: Negotiating academic boundaries today”

  2.15             Coffee Break & Book Stall

  2.45             SESSION 1: CREATING/RECREATING GENEALOGIES (The Invention of Tradition)                                  

                        Amanda Haste (FRANCE). “The ‘British Colony’ in Marseille: 

                             Meeting the challenges of migrant life 1850-1900.”

                         Karima Amer (FRANCE). “Historiographic challenges in the

                             history of psychoanalysis: Connecting Flournoy with Freud and Jung.”

                         Boria Sax (USA). “The Thanksgiving Turkey as a Sacrificial Offering.”

  4.15             Coffee Break & Book Stall

  4.45             SESSION 2: CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO: NEW VOICES IN SCHOLARSHIP                     

                      Sherry Boschert (USA). "Intersectional activism under Title IX."

                      Susan Roth Breitzer (USA). “Together and apart: The changing relationship between

                              independent scholars and learned societies.”

                      Darnella Davis (USA). “Widening the road for independent scholarship

                              and personal narratives.”

  6.15             ----END OF DAY 1----



8.45-9.30     Breakfast

9.00-9.30     Registration; Equipment testing (Sat presenters only)


                       Lead paper: Valerie Abrahamsen (USA). "Forging a Meaningful Life

                           in Reluctant Retirement: Sharing Scholarly Pursuits in Public Venues"

                        Panel: Valerie Abrahamsen (Chair)

                                   Elizabeth Coons

                                   Amanda Haste

11.00              Coffee Break & Book Stall


                                                 AND SCHOLARSHIP

                      Christian Gibbons (USA). “Reimagining communities in a globalized world:

                             Prospects for global citizenship.”

                       Angela Frusciante (USA). “Working with a spiral as geometric archetype: 

                             How a group of change agents shifted philanthropic inquiry methods

                             toward equity.”

  12.30             Lunch


                                             AND THE INDIGENOUS

                      Gavin Wilk (IRELAND). “Bravery and devotion to duty”:

                            Irish immigrant nurses in the American Red Cross during WWI."

                      Renée Neely (USA). "Navigating freedom, creating sustainability:

                           Marronage in the dismal swamp of Virginia and North Carolina

                         (ca 1800 – 1850)."

  3.00             Coffee Break & Book Stall


                      Jordan Lavender (USA). “Address forms in Ecuadorian Spanish: an analysis

                           of pronominal and nominal forms from Facebook Messenger data.”

                      Hyun Jun Cho (S. KOREA). "Egyptomania in Ancient Rome: An exploration

                           of the influence of Ancient Egypt on Rome as reflected in Roman art and


                      Annie Rehill (USA). "Creative expressions of connection and survival: The Métis."

  5.00             ---

  6.30              CONFERENCE DINNER



7.45-8.30  Breakfast

8.00-8.30 Registration; Equipment testing (Sun presenters only)


                                 PUBLISHING WITHIN ACADEMIA AND BEYOND

                  Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge (USA). “Podcasts: Public History:

                       Public History: Real History? What does 21st-century scholarship look like?”

                  Kristeen Cherney (USA). "Self-publication: Exploring the potential

                       opportunities and challenges for the independent scholar."                         

                  Panel:  Isabelle Flemming (Chair)

                              Kristeen Cherney

                             Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge (Footnoting History Podcasts)

                              Phil Stover (Rio Vista Press)

10.00       Coffee Break & Book Stall


                Janet Smith (ENGLAND). “Creating London through compulsory

                     elementary state education: Helen Taylor’s work on the London

                     School Board, 1876-1885.”

               Puneet Kaur Grewal (INDIA). “Runaway Cases and Honour Killings:

                    Understanding Misogyny and Familial Conflict.”

11.30       CLOSING KEYNOTE by Phil Stover

               “Enthusiasm Stew: A Recipe for Success as an Independent Scholar”

               Closing remarks




Amherst Farm Winery
529 Belchertown Rd, Amherst, 413-253-1400
Wine tastings Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday 12-5 pm
$8 for six vintages and a logo glass
Approx. 4 miles from UMass Amherst

Beneski Museum of Natural History, Amherst College
11 Barrett Hill Road, Amherst, 413-542-2000
Tuesday–Friday, 11 am – 4 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
Approx. 1 mile from UMass Amherst

Emily Dickinson Museum

NB The Museum is happy to arrange tours for groups (parties of six or more people). Reservations
for group tours must be made at least two weeks in advance and are subject to availability.
280 Main Street, Amherst, 413-542-8161
June-August Summer extended hours. Wednesday-Monday, 10 am - 5 pm. Last tour leaves at 4:30 pm.
Check this site IN ADVANCE:
Approx. 1 mile from UMass Amherst

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
125 West Bay Road, Amherst, 413-559-6300
Tuesday–Friday, 10 am - 4 pm, Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm
$9 adults, $6 students, teachers, seniors
Approx. 5 miles from UMass Amherst

Mead Art Museum, Amherst College
41 Quadrangle, Amherst, 413-542-2335
Sunday, 9 am – midnight; Tuesday - Thursday, 9 am – midnight; Friday, 9 am – 8 pm; Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm
Approx. 1.3 miles from UMass Amherst

University Museum of Contemporary Art
Fine Arts Center, UMass, 151 Presidents Drive, Amherst, 413-545-3672
Tuesday–Friday, 11 am - 4:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2-5 pm. Closed: Mondays, Academic Breaks, State Holidays. (Summer term seems to run May 20-August 16.)
On campus

Yiddish Book Center
1021 West Street, Amherst, 413-256-4900
Sunday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm
$8 for adults; $6 for seniors. Free for members, students, and children.
Approx. 5 miles from UMass Amherst

*Many thanks to Valerie Abrahamsen for researching these



Registration Forms

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Registration fees for members are heavily subsidised by NCIS and include conference pack, lunch on Friday and Saturday, and tea/coffee breaks throughout the conference.

Non-members are welcome to attend, but will not be eligible to present a paper at the conference. Any non-member may submit an abstract, but will need to become a member of NCIS on acceptance of their abstract. 

Members of NCIS:

    $80 Early Bird Rate/ $90 Standard Rate/$100 Late rate

Members of NCIS Partner Groups:

   $95 Early Bird Rate/ $105 Standard Rate/$115 Late rate

Accompanying partners of NCIS members:

  $80 Early Bird Rate/ $90 Standard Rate/$100 Late rate

Non-member registration fee:



Early Bird Rate (15 February to 31 March 2019)

Standard Rate (1 April to 30 April 2019)

Late Registration Rate (1 May to 31 May 2019)

Non-member rate (1 February to 31 May 2019)

Registration ends 31 May 2019



If you would like to arrive on the Thursday, please let us know well in advance so we can secure the best deal.

CAMPUS - RESIDENCE HALL - Single A/C room (Available until 31 May)

Air-conditioned suite-style accommodation. Each suite features 4 single rooms, 2 fully-equipped bathrooms (bath/shower & WC), communal area & kitchen. 

THURSDAY  $60 incl. linen, towels & secure parking

FRIDAY         $60 incl. linen, towels & secure parking

SATURDAY   $60 incl. linen, towels & secure parking

SUNDAY        $60 incl. linen, towels & secure parking

CAMPUS HOTEL Single or double room (Available until 17 May):

THURSDAY  $170/$200 incl. taxes & secure parking (tbc)

FRIDAY        $200 incl. taxes & secure parking

SATURDAY $200 incl. taxes & secure parking

SUNDAY       $170 incl. taxes & secure parking


Resident – Campus Residence Hall INCLUDED

Resident – Campus Hotel INCLUDED

Non-Resident (pay on site) $6.50 per day*

*Prices provided by UMass in June 2018. May be subject to change.




To celebrate 30 years of NCIS, our next conference will be at UMass Amherst June 21–23, 2019. The theme reflects our mission to connect independent scholars with each other, provide a sense of community, and offer practical support to enable members to meet the challenges of independent scholarship.

Making connections and meeting challenges are also integral to the research process in all fields, and these themes can thus be interpreted in myriad ways. We therefore invite scholars in all disciplines to propose papers, panels or round table discussions relevant to the conference theme. These may be related to but are not limited to the following strands:

Making connections, building community

Physical communities (e.g. migrant/ex-patriate; religious): establishing, defining, developing.
“Imagined communities,” whose members will never meet most of their fellow-members but who are bound by “the image of their communion” (Anderson 2006, 6), e.g. by nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, profession, social position etc).
Making connections, making history

Creating/recreating genealogies
The invention of tradition (Hobsbawm & Ranger 2012) by [re-]connecting to a real or idealized past
Connections between individuals (often through genealogical/archival research)
Connecting through the arts

Using music to reinforce connections, e.g., nationhood, local culture, group identity
Literary representations of cultural connections
Visual arts, plastic arts and textiles as cultural liaison
Connecting through STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math)

Interdisciplinary methodologies
Scientific applications in everyday life
Technology as communal glue
Dangerous liaisons

Innovative methodologies
Challenging conventional theory
Connecting hitherto disparate fields/methodologies
Partnering with scholars across disciplines
Meeting challenges

Conflict and resolution: military, STEM, political, scholarly
Beyond the lab: the particular challenges facing independent scientists
Ethical challenges in research
Reliability and repeatability: using the internet (e.g., surveys or forum posts) as data sources.
New models of scholarship, particularly independent scholarship, in the face of the vilification of academia.
Directions for Independent Scholarship as well as individual ISs.
Negotiating new publication models, eg scholarly blogs
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised ed. London; New York: Verso, 2006.

Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition. [1983.] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.   


Submission Guidelines
Deadline for proposals: February 15, 2019

Papers Individual paper presentations will be 15-20 mins, with 10 mins for questions. Abstracts of 350-500 words should be sent to using the Abstract Submission Form.

Panels & Roundtable Discussions Proposals of 350-500 words for panels or round tables of 3-4 speakers are welcome. They should outline the theme, and participants if known, and should be sent to using the Abstract Submission Form.

Eligibility for submission
All NCIS members in good standing are eligible to present at the conference.
Non-members are invited to submit proposals, but in the event their paper is accepted, the author is required to join NCIS upon notice of acceptance.
No member may present more than one paper.
Presentations must be in English.
Additional information
All proposals will be acknowledged within a few days of receipt, and the review committee will inform you of their decision as quickly as possible.

All NCIS members in good standing will enjoy a reduced registration fee, due to a generous subsidy from NCIS funds.

GRANT SUPPORT Full Members may also be eligible to apply for a Conference Support Grant of $250 in either of the two cycles preceding the conference. You can check the criteria here. Grant application deadlines are October 1, 2018, February 1, 2019, and June 1, 2019.

Onsite hotel or campus accommodation (all air-conditioned) will be available for participants.

Presenters will be invited to submit an extended paper for consideration in a special conference issue of the NCIS peer-reviewed open-access journal The Independent Scholar.

Contact us

National Coalition of Independent Scholars