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Polyphemus attacking Ulysses

Tryntje Helfferich: Polyphemus’ Supper: Surviving War in 17th-Century Europe

Professor Helfferich's talk surveyed some of the disruptions and devastations caused by the Thirty Years War but focused on people’s survival tactics, which included everything from fighting back, to negotiating to trickery echoing that was used by Odysseus himself in his daring escape from Polyphemus. The full talk is now on our YouTube channel.
Poster of Landry's Talk Showing Title and Image of Alps

Marc Landry: Europe’s Battery: The Alps in the Fossil Fuel Age

Landry shows how Europeans moved mountains and earth to transform the Alps into a natural battery in order to make fickle water behave more like the dominant energy source of the time: coal. A history of the Alpine energy landscape reveals how central these “peripheral” mountains were to the drama of the early twentieth century and suggests certain lessons as the world contemplates a “green” energy future.
Poster for Marchand Event showing porcelain cups and the title of the talk

Suzanne Marchand: Central European Porcelain Between Mercantilism and the "...

Marchand's talk told the tale of two porcelain manufactories, the Imperial Viennese Manufactory (WPM) and the privately owned Thuringian firm, Wallendorf, from which sprang several 19th-century market leaders (C. M. and Lorenz Hutschenreuther). While their founding dates are separated by nearly a half-century (WPM, 1718; Wallendorf, 1764), both of these manufactories passed through a crucial period in the 1780s in which enlightened absolutist economic policies began to move away from mercantilism towards a freer, more competitive, market for luxury goods. By juxtaposing the fate of these firms between 1770 and 1840, the talk described the collapsing of older forms of princely financing and artisanal production in the face of expanding competition and innovations in chemistry and labor-saving devices.

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