Notre Dame history professor to share WWI technology insights

Published 09.27.2018


With the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I to be observed in November, a guest lecturer with the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Lecture Series will share his expertise on the topic on Thursday, Nov. 8, in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Klump Academic Center Auditorium.

In partnership with the Notre Dame Club of Greater Williamsport, John Deak, associate professor of European history at Notre Dame, will present “The Limits of Modern Warfare: Stalemate, Technology, and the Isonzo Front in the First World War.” The talk, which begins at 7 p.m., is part of Penn College’s Technology & Society Colloquia Series and is free and open to the public.

John DeakWorld War I saw the increased use of modern technologies of warfare as its belligerents sought to break the great stalemate that set in at the end of 1914. Airplanes, chemical agents, tanks and submarines saw extensive deployment and, together, represented a sea change in how we think about modern, industrial wars.

Deak’s talk will examine these larger developments with a unique focus on the Isonzo Front, fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy. Within this mountainous terrain and brutal winters, the stalemate of war claimed nearly 1.5 million casualties and saw the limits of modern war stretched and broken in the name of claiming victory.

A recognized authority in the history of European political culture from the Enlightenment to the 20th century, Deak teaches courses on German history, the Revolutions of 1848, World War I and, his specialty, the history of the Habsburg Empire.

In addition to courses in historical methodology and philosophy of history, Deak is actively engaged in training graduate students who work on a variety of topics, including theories of nationalism and modern capitalism spanning the last three centuries.

Deak holds a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a fellow at Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

“The Limits of Modern Warfare” opens the fourth season of Penn College’s Technology & Society Colloquia Series, which aims to challenge audiences to consider the impact of technology on society.

Honoring Daniel J. Doyle, professor emeritus and Penn College’s 1984 Master Teacher, the Colloquia Series features presentations by noted authors and academics. Initiated in 2014 as the Centennial Colloquia Series during the college’s 100th anniversary of education celebration, the series was renamed and formally launched for the 2015-16 academic year.

The Hesburgh Lecture Series – named in honor of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the university’s longtime president, and featuring lectures mostly presented by tenured faculty – showcases the depth and breadth of Notre Dame’s academic expertise in research and teaching. The series furthers the mission of the university’s Alumni Association to provide meaningful continuing education opportunities to Notre Dame alumni and friends.

A question-and-answer session will follow the lecture, and conversation can resume during a reception in Wrapture, a dining unit on the first floor of the Klump Academic Center.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.