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Call for Papers

8-10 June 2023, in-person at the University of Warwick

Call for Papers

Proposal deadline: 31 January 2023

The Early Modern and Eighteenth-Century Centre at the University of Warwick, together with GIS Sociabilités/Sociability network in France, aims to explore the intersection of sociability with the themes of food, politics and travel in the early modern period (1550-1850). The conference coincides with the Visiting Professorship of Dena Goodman (University of Michigan), who has devoted much of her career to studying sociability in eighteenth-century France. In her keynote, she will reflect on the political implications of the family/friendship binary for the history of sociability between 1750 and 1850.

This international conference, which is open to researchers at all levels of their career, aims to explore new insights on forms, models and practices of sociability interpreted and analysed through the themes of food, politics and travel. These constitute three of the four strands currently being explored in the new scientific programme (2023-2025) of the GIS Sociability international network. Two of these themes – food and travel (‘connecting cultures’) – fall under the ‘Global Research Priorities’ of the University of Warwick.

Historical research on sociability has been developing for several decades. It has been enriched by theoretical frameworks for understanding networks and the rise of public spheres. Sociology and cultural anthropology have been especially helpful for conceptualising how, why and the conditions under which people interact in specific ways. Recent studies of emotions – individual and collective – have thrown light on various forms of sociability.


Although there is a rich literature on the topic to draw from, the aim of this conference is to home in on how sociability was imbricated in other cultural phenomena. We are especially interested in exploring the relationship between sociability and political culture, food and drink studies, and trade, travel, and overseas exchange.


We welcome proposals for individual papers (15 minutes) to be given in English, or pre-formed panels (3 papers) from various disciplinary fields (history, literature, history of Art, philosophy, ethnology, cultural studies). Papers on any part of the early modern period and any geographical context are welcome. We encourage innovative questions and approaches to the topic. Priority will be on discussion in order to test out ideas and identify convergences for future collaborations.

Deadline: 31 January 2023. Please send paper proposals of no more than 100 words or panel proposals of 400 words (100 per paper plus an overarching panel statement) to Please indicate the title, your institutional affiliation and status, and the theme you intend to address (politics, food/drink, or travel. Papers treating more than one of these themes are welcome.

The conference is currently seeking funding to cover one-night’s accommodation, along with food for the duration of the conference. Participants will be expected to cover travel costs and any additional accommodation they require.

Paper and panel topics are not limited to the sub-themes indicated below, but they should relate to the main themes of politics, food and drink, or travel.

Politics and Politicisation

The eighteenth century witnessed moments of intense politicisation and dramatic political change. We invite papers that explore the intersection of sociability and politics and politicisation. How did sociability figure in:

  • political philosophy and ideas
  • representations and language
  • the politics of printed media
  • the manners of politics
  • revolutions
  • ceremonies, festivals, jubilees
  • ideas about civil society
  • political institutions
  • the politics driven by women, the ‘invisible politician’
  • ideas about women’s suffrage
  • political spaces (rural/urban, popular/elite)
  • clubs, associations, mass meetings, drinking sociability, taverns, coffeehouses, leisure venues
  • imperial/colonial contexts


Food, Drink and Sociability

We invite papers that explore sociability in its relation to food and drink in the early modern period. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Practices of conviviality
  • Comparative venues
  • class and status
  • rituals (dinners, toasting, food games)
  • public feasts
  • identities and politics expressed through food and drink
  • the introduction of exotic foods and drinks and colonial implications
  • transgressive forms of eating and drinking
  • intoxicants and new addictions (alcohol, tobacco, drugs)



Travel occasioned opportunities for connecting cultures and exchanging but also for mutual miscomprehension and conflict. This aspect of the programme questions how sociability figured in cross-cultural encounters. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • food, lodgings and hospitality for travellers
  • transportation
  • exploring the world (the Grand Tour, Scientific Exploration, Global travel)
  • travel and colonial settlement
  • colonial trade
  • diplomatic sociability
  • anthropological and proto-anthroplogical perspectives