Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Ewing Lecture Series

The Ewing Lecture Series was established in 1973 to honor Robert H. Ewing for his 27 years of teaching and service 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 establish this annual Lecture Series to bring distinguished historians to campus to share their work with the Lycoming community.

William Chester Jordan, Ph.D. —
March 18, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

William Chester Jordan, Ph.D.

Medieval historian William Chester Jordan, Ph.D., of Princeton University will speak at this year’s annual Ewing Lecture Series. His talk, entitled “The Harvest Indeed is Great, but the Labourers are Few”: Strangers in the Medieval Countryside, will be delivered on Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m., in the Trogner Presentation Room of the Krapf Gateway Center. This event is free and open to the public.

The lecture will center on how medieval Europe dealt with the influx of migrant laborers throughout the continent. According to Jordan, migrant laborers were often recruited by work gang bosses and travelled through the medieval countryside, typically under the authority of these bosses, who acted in the name of rural monasteries, village councils, estate managers, and lords. Jordan says the authority of the work gang bosses implied responsibilities of a considerable weight, which evoked the very nature of the migrants’ precarious status. It was incumbent on them to help police the strangers who constituted their work forces and to accompany them from place to place until they finished their employment.

“Even if some of the same laborers appeared year after year and became somewhat familiar to the inhabitants of any number of local villages, they remained largely outsiders to the communities they served,” said Jordan. “An attempt to recover the social consequences of the presence of these strangers in medieval rural society is at the heart of the lecture.”

Jordan is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. He was previously the director of the medieval studies program at Princeton and, from 1994 to 1999, served as the director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. Jordan served as chair of the history department from 2008 to 2017.

The focus of Jordan’s studies ranges from the 6th to 14th centuries in medieval Europe. He has authored multiple books, including “The Apple of His Eye: Converts from Islam in the Reign of Louis IX,” “From England to France: Felony and Exile in the High Middle Ages,” and “Men at the Center: Redemptive Governance under Louis IX.”

Jordan is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was recently awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University. Jordan’s current research focuses on migrant labor in the thirteenth and early fourteenth century.

Past lecturers include:

  • 2019 — Dr. Jane Dailey
    "White Fright: Sex, Race and the African American Freedom Struggle"
  • 2018 — Dr. Peter John Brobst
    "Two Navies, One Highway: Britain, America, and Global Sea Power since 1968"
  • 2017 — Dr. Diane Sommerville
    "The Accursed Ills I Cannot Bear"
  • 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"