The Digital Encyclopedia of British Sociability in the Long Eighteenth Century

Explore the wide range of topics related to British sociability from 1650 to 1850 and discover how the circulation of models of sociability shaped European and colonial societies.

The Project

An innovative tool and an interdisciplinary approach

  • An open-access digital encyclopedia with a multi-modal search engine
  • An international and interdisciplinary project led by the GIS Sociabilités / Sociability since 2017
  • An EU-funded project (Horizon 2020-MSCA-RISE) since 2019, promoting staff exchange and intersectoral collaborations
  • A digital humanities project managed by an experienced editorial team
  • Encyclopedia entries written in English or French by eighteenth-century scholars in various fields (history, art history, literature, philosophy, material culture, linguistics ...) and reviewed by a dedicated committee
  • A complementary anthology of texts related to various aspects of sociability and connected to the entries

Find out more

Bringing academic research on eighteenth-century sociability to a wider audience

  • Explore the wide range of topics related to British Sociability from 1650 to 1850 and learn about the circulation of models of sociability that shaped European and colonial societies.
  • Discover the collaborative work between academic researchers on primary source material in their respective fields of expertise
  • Browse through 200 entries enriched with illustrations, hyperlinks, footnotes and further reading suggestions
  • Search by keywords, by alphabetical order or by categories (People, Places, Practices, Concepts, Objects) and sub-categories
  • Navigate easily through a dynamic and updatable resource
  • Share content with online media and social networks

Latest entries


William Wordsworth, the Worldly Recluse

The literary career of William Wordsworth (1770-1850) spans nearly sixty years, charting not only his evolution from disaffected radical to Victorian sage, but also the events and changes that shaped his generation, and ultimately the British nation. At once a poet of the Lake District and, from 1843 onwards, the Poet Laureate, Wordsworth explored the concept of sociability on both local and national levels.


Laughter was considered fundamental to sociability in eighteenth-century Britain, but it was a complex social signal: as Samuel Johnson observed, ‘you may laugh in as many ways as you talk’. In its various guises, laughing could communicate anything from warmth to outright hostility; a well-placed chuckle could be the epitome of politeness, while an uncontrolled guffaw – especially triggered by a ‘lowbrow’ joke – was anything but.


Racing, Britain’s first proto-modern, widely-followed national sport, opens a window into wider sociability and cultural life. The annual race week created an important urban social space, involving both public and private sociability, attracting racehorse owners and gamblers; men and women; the country and towns-folk; and elite, middling and proletariat groups.


As part of its H2020 programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE-2018)), the European Commission has granted significant financial support to DIGITENS, the flagship project of the Scientific Interest Grouping (GIS) “Sociabilités/Sociability”.


Latest News

DIGITENS closing conference: Sociabilities on the Move in the Long Eighteenth Century (1650-1850)

December 8th 2022
International conference organized by the GIS Sociabilités/Sociability and the research center HCTI in the framework of the H2020 DIGITENS project. Brest, 8 - 9 December 2022

Sports and Sociability in the Long Eighteenth Century

October 13th 2022
International conference organized by Caroline Bertonèche (Université Grenoble Alpes) and Alexis Tadié (Sorbonne University) in the framework of the H2020 DIGITENS project. Sorbonne Université, 13-14 October 2022.

Levantine Sociabilities in Europe in Giacomo Casanova’s time: Spies, Impostors, Courtesans and Men of Culture

September 22nd 2022
International conference organized within the framework of the EU project DIGITENS and in partnership with the GIS SOCIABILITÉS/SOCIABILITY Chieti-Pescara (Italy), 22 & 23 September, 2022