Brian Black, professor of history and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona, will speak at two European conferences marking the 40th anniversary of the 1973 gas crisis.
One conference, “Pivotal Year: The 1973 Oil Shock and its Global Significance,” takes place in Florence, Italy, and the second, “Conference on Oil and Energy in Contemporary History,” takes place in Potsdam, Germany.
Black’s current research and writing focuses on American oil consumption in the 20th century. For each of these conferences, he will discuss the role of the 1970s in America’s transition from its over-reliance on petroleum.
While many European nations made important changes to their energy use as a reaction to the oil crisis, the American reaction has often been depicted as a failure. But Black argues that historians must look to other indicators to measure larger shifts in American culture. In doing so, an important transition in patterns of American energy use can be seen. Forty years removed from the episode, Black claims events of the 1970s emerge as a clear hinge in American attitude toward energy.
Black’s work is part of his current book project, “Declaring Our Dependence.”