On Friday, March 1 at 7:00 pm, the Wet Your Whistle Lecture Series continues with Stephen Gencarella presenting The Spell of Alcohol: Witches, Women, and the Curious History of Brewing in Wethersfield and Beyond. This public lecture examines the rich folklore of alcohol and witchcraft, with a special emphasis on the relationship between witches and women in beer brewing. It explains—and debunks—a recent popular notion that witches and alewives had a very close historical connection in Europe, and explore the roots of that erroneous claim here in New England. The talk also introduces the strangely intertwined notions of witchcraft, brewing, and the traditional role of women in the region, especially during the Connecticut witchcraft panic, which included Wethersfield and the surrounding area. Finally, this talk provides an overview of the changes regarding gender following shifting immigration patterns and the involvement of local women in movements for social reform.
Stephen Olbrys Gencarella is a professor of folklore studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where his research focuses on the culture and legends of New England. Dr. Gencarella received a joint Ph.D. from the Departments of Folklore and Communication and Culture from Indiana University. He has written three books and several articles on regional folklore. He also teaches a class on the global folklore of alcohol and is a lifetime member of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. He has served as the resident folklorist of the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT, and researched and wrote the script for an exhibit in 2018 entitled The Thirsty River: 400 Years of Drink, Life, and Reform in the Connecticut River Valley. He is the secretary of the CT Eastern Regional Tourism District and lives in Lyme,
The lecture will be held in the ballroom of The Keeney Memorial Cultural Center (200 Main Street, Wethersfield). Admission is $10 for the general public and free to current members of Wethersfield Historical Society.