The History of Sociability

This Year's Theme

The theme of the conference is the history of sociability. Although the Internet Age has brought some changes to sociability, humans continue to interact in ways, including through material routes (food, alcohol, public houses, sport, manners), hierarchy and power (the theatre state, competition, courtly decorum), and communicative realms (literary sociability, gender, class belonging, opinion formation), that were similar across various historical eras. In a time when the discursive realms of forming public opinion are becoming increasingly artificial and coopted by hegemonic state apparatuses, it is imperative to examine the history of sociability. The goal of the conference is to analyze the various ways humans have socialized and continue to socialize during four epochs: the Medieval World, the Early Modern World, the Modern World, and the Internet Age. The theme is intentionally broad to encourage scholars from different disciplines with various geographical and chronological concentrations to present works that will allow for comparison across a wide breadth. This will likewise encourage interdisciplinary comparisons. Given that sociability has a particular relevancy to contemporary society, this will also encourage community engagement, a goal of the conference.



William Woys Weaver

Keynote Speaker

William Woys Weaver is an internationally known author of 18 groundbreaking books devoted to foodways, heirloom gardening and kitchen garden history. ncluding A Quaker Woman’s Cookbook (1982, new edition 2004)—a study of a 19th century domestic book by Elizabeth Ellicott Lea, America Eats (Harper & Row 1989), and The Christmas Cook (Harper-Collins 1990), a 300-year history of the American Christmas. Weaver has been featured on such national programs as “Good Morning America” (with Julia Child) and NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and has appeared in many special food documentaries, including “Terrapin,” which won an Emmy in 1993, and more recently, “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds.”

Dr. Weaver has been the subject of special articles in Americana, Food and Wine, Food Arts, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and in Country Living. He has served as Visiting Professor of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a consultant for a wide variety of culinary projects, from 17th century foodways at Pennsbury Manor, to guest curator for “The Larder Invaded: Three Centuries of Philadelphia Cuisine” (1986-1987) and “America Eats” (1989) at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. He is also founding President of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley and served as Associate Editor and Art Editor of The Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (Charles Scribners 2003). This encyclopedia received the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association, the highest award in the reference book industry.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking (Abbeville Press 1993) received the Jane Grigson Award (an IACP Cookbook Award) and was also nominated for a James Beard Award. Weaver’s American edition of Food and Drink in Medieval Poland (University of Pennsylvania Press 1999 – originally published in Poland) was funded in part by a grant from the IACP Foundation. His highly acclaimed garden book, Heirloom Vegetable Gardening (Henry Holt 1997) was chosen as a main selection for the Rodale/Organic Gardening book club as well as a main selection for the Garden Book Club. It received a Julia Child Cookbook Award (for food reference) as well as the Jane Grigson Award for scholarly excellence. Weaver’s other books include Sauer’s Herbal Cures (Routledge 2001), America’s First Herbal (1762-1777), and 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From (Algonquin Press 2000). Country Scrapple: An American Tradition (Stackpole Books 2003) forms a trilogy with new revised editions of A Quaker Woman’s Cookbook and Sauerkraut Yankees. More recently the University of Pennsylvania Press published As American As Shoofly Pie (2013), an analysis of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.

Weaver was the 1996 Scholar in Residence for the national IACP conference in Philadelphia, where he has also been involved for many years with “Book and the Cook.” He lives in the 1805 Lamb Tavern, a National Register property in Devon, Pennsylvania. On the grounds of the tavern, Weaver maintains a jardin potager in the style of the 1830s featuring almost 4,000 varieties of heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. He is an organic gardener, a life member of Seed Savers Exchange and a member of Arche Noah in Schiltern, Austria.

For 8 years Dr. Weaver served as a Contributing Editor to Gourmet and is now a Contributing Editor to Mother Earth News and The Heirloom Gardener. From 2002 to 2010, he lectured as Adjunct Professor of Food Studies at Drexel University and is presently teaching courses on regional American cuisine in connection with the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism, a non-profit academic research institute, of which he is presently the director. Dr. Weaver is also a board member of GMO Free Pennsylvania and the Experimental Farm Network, a grass-roots organization devoted to alternative methods of seed production. Weaver received his doctorate in food studies at University College Dublin, Ireland, the first doctorate awarded by the University in that field of study.