Keynote and Plenary Addresses


Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World

Steven M. Nolt

During the past half century Amish society has attracted attention for its remarkable persistence in the midst of modern North American. Yet the fact that the Amish survive and thrive has just as surely been a result of their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Steve Nolt will consider key developments in Amish society and its relationship with wider social forces since the mid-twentieth century. In charting these patterns he will suggest what they may say about the possibilities and limits of American pluralism today, as well as for the future of a dynamic and increasingly diverse Amish world in the twenty-first century.

Steve Nolt is a professor of history at Goshen (Ind.) College and will begin his new role as the senior scholar at the Young Center this summer. His newest book, The Amish: A Concise Introduction, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in March 2016. Other recent publications include A History of the Amish, 3rd ed. (2015) and, with Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnson-Weiner, The Amish (2013).


Continuity and Change in the Lives of Amish Women

Karen Johnson-Weiner

The growing technological diversity in the Amish world, unimaginable even fifty years ago, has had enormous impact on family life and community relationships, economic interaction with non-Amish society, the role of the church in the lives of Amish men and women, and Amish notions of appropriate gender behavior. In the past, researchers argued, Amish women became Amish wives and their primary role was to manage the household. They were the “keepers at home,” helpmeets to their husbands. Today, Amish women are still running households—but they may also be running businesses, writing books, engaged in wage labor on an assembly line, or serving pies in a restaurant. Their roles are as varied as Amish communities themselves. This talk explores how the socially defined roles of Amish women have changed as Amish churches have evolved.

Karen Johnson-Weiner is a professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. She is also the author of New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State and Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools and coauthor (with Donald B. Kraybill and Steven M. Nolt) of The Amish.


Continuity and Change in Pennsylvania Dutch, 1963–2013

Mark Louden

In the fifty years-plus since the first appearance of John Hostetler's groundbreaking Amish Society, much has changed in the external situation of the main language spoken by the Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch. How the use of Pennsylvania Dutch by the Amish has evolved since the early 1960s is reflected in part in the vocabulary and grammar of the language itself. At the same time, there are a number of patterns of continuity in both the use and structures of Pennsylvania Dutch among the Amish that extend back to the very beginnings of the language in the eighteenth century. In this presentation, I will discuss a number of the most important examples of continuity and change in the varieties of Pennsylvania Dutch spoken today in Amish communities across North America.

Mark Louden received his undergraduate and graduate training in Germanic linguistics at Cornell University. A fluent speaker of Pennsylvania Dutch, he has written extensively on the history and contemporary situation of the language and its speakers. He is the author of Pennsylvania Dutch: The Story of an American Language, which was released by the Johns Hopkins University Press in January 2016. After twelve years at the University of Texas at Austin, in 2000 he joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he is a professor of German and co-director of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. He is also an affiliate faculty member in the UW Religious Studies Program and the Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. In addition to his academic research on Pennsylvania Dutch, he is active in a number of public outreach activities related to the language, faith, and culture of its speakers, the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites. He also serves as an interpreter and cultural mediator for Pennsylvania Dutch speakers in the legal and health care systems.


Plain People, Genomics and the Art of Translational Medicine

D. Holmes Morton

Dr. Morton is currently developing the Central Pennsylvania Clinic for Special Children and Adults in Kish Valley, a new medical clinic that will be built on land once belonging to Amish scholar John Hostetler, a long-time advocate for a health care facility in Kishacoquillas Valley. In his lecture, Morton will explore the interface between health care for special children and adults and research about their diseases. He will also highlight the variety of traditional medical and transitional treatment modalities used in his work.

Dr. D. Holmes Mortona pediatrician, cofounded the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, in 1989. A local pediatric medical center, the clinic has become recognized internationally for innovative studies in the discovery and treatment of inherited disorders. Dr. Morton received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. In 1993 he was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and in 2006 a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.


Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World

Donald Kraybill

The vitality of Amish society over the last half century screams success. Yet beneath this glossy surface lie many snares for their way of life in the twenty-first century. Donald Kraybill will identify vulnerabilities in Amish culture that could impair their future in a cyber world. Some of these hazards are embedded the rise of business, use of technology, religious beliefs, and church organization among others.

Donald Kraybill, recently retired from teaching, continues to research and write about North America's Anabaptist communities. His most recent book, Renegade Amish (2014), tells the tale of the Bergholz barbers. He is the editor of Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.