In 1985, Richard Stein, who felt that a Western MLA Branch in nineteenth-century studies was needed, invited 50 colleagues to meet and discuss ideas for collaboration. A November 1985 lunch produced a lot of shared interest and led to the planning of a conference for the following April at Scripps College. At its first meeting, the organization was named the Western Association for Nineteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Studies; the following year it became INCS.
The new organization, founded with the help of scholars at UCLA, UCSC, Pomona, and San Jose State, was notable for two distinguishing features: first, the goal was to be interdisciplinary, with conference sessions designed to mix and match different kinds of perspectives rather than focusing on shared single issues; second, all conference presentations would be limited to summaries, with the bulk of time at each session devoted to discussion. The format proved extremely successful, and INCS conferences are noted for stimulating conversation in and out of sessions themselves. The other feature of the group that was initiated in early years—and continues now—is a junior-friendly attitude: graduate students and faculty sit on panels together, and many long-time members mark their professional starts with appearances at INCS.
Originally, INCS was linked to a journal called Romanticism Past and Present, which eventually evolved into Nineteenth-Century Contexts. The group has been hosted by many different institutions and met in many cities. This information is taken from the INCS website; for more information on INCS and past conferences: http://incsscholars.org