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Well-timed colloquium speaker visits on eve of armistice’s centenary


Mere days before the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end, a visiting associate professor of European history at Notre Dame transcended the numbers normally used in assessing casualties … talking instead of the emotional upshot and psychological toll that lend deeper understanding to the staggering loss. Through a collaboration between Penn College and the Notre Dame Club of Greater Williamsport, John Deak presented “The Limits of Modern Warfare: Stalemate, Technology, and the Isonzo Front in the First World War” as part of the college’s Technology & Society Colloquia Series. Sharing his research into an area about which most Americans know little – the dozen battles between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies near the Isonzo River – the speaker illustrated for his rapt Klump Academic Center listeners how technology factors into the seemingly eternal desire to subdue one’s enemies. A full-length video of the presentation can be found on the college’s YouTube channel:

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor

Patrick Marty, college chief of staff and a Notre Dame alumnus (who integrally connected speaker and audience), introduces Deak.
Patrick Marty, college chief of staff and a Notre Dame alumnus (who integrally connected speaker and audience), introduces Deak.

Prefacing the lecture with an appreciation of his own students, as well as those he met earlier that day in Penn College classes, Deak applauds the inspiring influence that learners bring to the teaching process.
Prefacing the lecture with an appreciation of his own students, as well as those he met earlier that day in Penn College classes, Deak applauds the inspiring influence that learners bring to the teaching process.

The auditorium's magnificent dome reflects the evening's enlightenment.
The auditorium’s magnificent dome reflects the evening’s enlightenment.

Striking a chord through students' familiarity with a battlefield-themed video game, Deak discusses soldiers' use of improvised weaponry – maces, grenades, brass knuckles and crude armor, among them.
Striking a chord through students’ familiarity with a battlefield-themed video game, Deak discusses soldiers’ use of improvised weaponry – maces, grenades, brass knuckles and crude armor, among them.

An engaged crowd listens to a timely rendering of a timeless theme: mankind's adaptive ability to wage war.
An engaged crowd listens to a timely rendering of a timeless theme: mankind’s adaptive ability to wage war.

At the post-talk gathering in Wrapture, Deak and Marty pose with members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Williamsport.
At the post-talk gathering in Wrapture, Deak and Marty pose with members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Williamsport.

Among the threads between technology and the "lethality of war" were tradition, honor, notions of manliness and the horrifically fatal belief that offense wins battles.
Among the threads between technology and the “lethality of war” were tradition, honor, notions of manliness and the horrifically fatal belief that offense wins battles.

Automotive restoration technology instructor Roy H. Klinger shares his students' study-abroad experience in Europe – just "one mountain range over" from the Isonzo area referenced by Deak.
Automotive restoration technology instructor Roy H. Klinger shares his students’ study-abroad experience in Europe – just “one mountain range over” from the Isonzo area referenced by Deak.

Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost, moderates the Q&A.
Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost, moderates the Q&A.

Fielding several audience questions, Deak compliments the thoughtful quality of the dialogue.
Fielding several audience questions, Deak compliments the thoughtful quality of the dialogue.

After an hour's journey through a brutal series of battles, and the unspeakable use of poison gas in the ensuing world war, Deak was pleased to leave his audience in the verdant peace of a century hence.
After an hour’s journey through a brutal series of battles, and the unspeakable use of poison gas in the ensuing world war, Deak was pleased to leave his audience in the verdant peace of a century hence.

The guest of honor extends his already-full day in ongoing chat.
The guest of honor extends his already-full day in ongoing chat.

 

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