Ewing Lecture Series

Diane Sommerville

"The Accursed Ills I Cannot Bear"

Dr. Diane Sommerville
associate professor of history at Binghamton University

Monday, April 3, at 7:15 p.m.
Mary L. Welch Honors Hall

Sommerville will discuss the after effects of war suffered by Civil War veterans during a presentation at 7:15 p.m. on April 3 in the Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall, at the corner of Basin and Fourth Streets. The presentation, and a brief reception that follows, are free and open to the public.

Sommerville’s presentation, titled “The Accursed Ills I Cannot Bear,” will discuss the prevalence of suicide among confederate soldiers and how intense suffering affected them and their families. Her research indicates a higher prevalence of suicide among Southern soldiers than Northern and postulates the South’s stronger association of serving in the military with ideals of manhood and nationalism as a reason for the difference. She also traces the change in cultural attitudes toward suicide, identifying the Civil War as a turning point toward more sympathetic views.

Sommerville has presented at dozens of conferences and published numerous articles about mental health and other cultural aspects of the American South in the second half of the 1800’s. Her first book, “Rape and Race in the Nineteenth-Century South,” (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) earned the Best First Book Award from Phi Alpha Theta and the 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Her second book, “Aberration of Mind: Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War Era South,” is expected to be released from the University of North Carolina Press later this year.

She published an article on the topic in Civil War history, titled “‘A Burden Too Heavy to Bear’: War Trauma, Suicide, and Confederate Soldiers,” in Civil War History, which won the John T. Hubbell Prize for the Best Article Published during 2013. She also received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to conduct the research for her current book.

Ewing Lecture Series

As historians look into their field by examining past events, so do the students and professors at Lycoming College. Each year, the professors of history at Lycoming look to recognize one of their colleagues and friends by presenting the Robert H. Ewing Lecture Series.

The Ewing Lecture Series was established in 1973 when Robert H. Ewing, of whom the Series is named, retired after 27 years at Lycoming College. A revered teacher and friend of the college, his life was characterized by a deep religious faith, a passion for history and a strong devotion to a liberal arts education. These qualities touched the lives of all who came in contact with him and led his many friends to contribute to the Ewing Fund to establish this Series.

Past lecturers include:

  • 2016 — Dr. Paul Freedman
    "Basic Principles of Medieval Cuisine"
  • 2015 — Dr. Jonathan Scott Holloway
    "Whose Memories Matter? Race, Identity, and the Battle for American History"
  • 2014 — Dr. Leslie Brown
    "Power Politics in the Civil Rights Era"
  • 2013 — Dr. Edward Ayers
    "Where Did Freedom Come From?"
  • 2012 — Dr. Stanley Katz
    "Can the Liberal Arts College Help to Save Democracy?"
  • 2011 — Dr. David Witwer
    "The Acid Attack on Victor Riesel and the Racketeer Menace in Cold War America"
  • 2010 — Dr. Barbara A. Hanawalt
    "The Detection of Fraud in the Victualing Trade in Medieval London"
  • 2009 — Dr. Antulio Echevarria, II
    "An American Way of War or Way of Battle?"
  • 2008 — Dr. Kevin Boyle
    "Arc of Justice: The Sweet Case and the Course of Civil Rights"
  • 2007 — Dr. James H. Merrell
    "Revisiting and Revising the Colonial American Frontier"
  • 2006 — Dr. John J. Contreni
    "What Should We Know about the Crusades?"
  • 2005 — Dr. Gabor Boritt
    "The Most Important Election in American History?"
  • 2004 — Dr. David Nasaw
    "Andrew Carnegie: Marking Sense of Making Millions"
  • 2003 — Dr. Mark E. Neely Jr.
    "The American Civil War: Foretaste of Terror?"
  • 2002 — Dr. William H. Flayhart III '66
    "Perils of the Atlantic: Ship Disasters of the 19th Century"
  • 2001 — Dr. Robert H. Zieger
    "Race and Labor in 20th Century America"
  • 2000 — Dr. Ira Berlin
    "The Role of Memory in Writing the History of Slavery"
  • 1999 — Dr. John Lewis Gaddis
    "We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History in light of Recent Revelations from Soviet Archives"
  • 1998 — Dr. James T. Patterson
    "America's Grand Expectations After World War II"
  • 1997 — Dr. Michael Burlingame
    "Emphatically the Black Man's President: Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass"
  • 1996 — Dr. Henry Friedlander
    "The Origins of Nazi Genocide"
  • 1995 — Dr. Joan Hoff
    "Women and the Constitution"
  • 1994 — Dr. Barbara Sicherman
    "The Education of Jane Addams"
  • 1993 — Dr. Mary Beth Norton
    "The Curious Incident of the Gossiping Ladies of New Haven: Gender and Society in Seventeenth-Century America"
  • 1992 — Dr. Roland G. Foerster
    "Defense and Sovereignty: Ten Theses on German Rearmament after the Second World War, 1945-1950"
  • 1991 — Dr. Martin E. Marty
    "The Twentieth Century American Religious Scene: Important Conflicts/Few Dead Bodies"
  • 1990 — Dr. John M. Murrin
    "Baseball, Football and Nineteenth Century American Political Culture"
  • 1989 — Dr. John Wilson
    "Original Intent and the Church State Problem"
  • 1988 — Dr. Peter Paret
    "The History of War as Part of General History"
  • 1987 — Dr. Edward Pessen
    "George Washington Against the Cold War"
  • 1986 — Dr. James H. Smylie
    "Jefferson's Statue for Religious Liberty: Historical, Social, and Constitutional Contexts"
  • 1985 — Dr. Michael Vlahos
    "Strategy and National Culture"
  • 1984 — Dr. Carl E. Prince
    "The Great Riot Year: Jacksonian Democracy and Patterns of American Violence in 1834"
  • 1983 — Dr. Robert T. Handy
    "Common Themes in the Diverse History of Religious Groups in America"
  • 1982 — Dr. Harold E. Deutsch
    "The Influence of Ultra in World War II"
  • 1981 — Dr. Edmund S. Morgan
    "The Invincible Yeoman Farmer"
  • 1980 — Dr. Hans Hillerbrand
    "The Reformation and the Peasants' War: Reflections on Social History"
  • 1979 — Dr. Thomas Barnes
    "Legal History: Does It Have a Past? Does It Have a Future?"
  • 1978 — Dr. Michael Kammen
    "The American Revolution and the Historical Imagination"
  • 1977 — Dr. Oron Hale
    "Administration of Occupied Territories After World War II"
  • 1976 — Dr. Willie Lee Rose
    "Domesticating Domestic Slavery"
  • 1975 — Dr. John Shy
    "Hearts and Minds in the American Revolution: The Social Impact of the Revolutionary War"
  • 1974 — Dr. Roland Bainton
    "Erasmus and the Reformation"