Extra Credit

Extra Credit

Asst. Prof. Ekaterina Haskins (Communication) won the Rhetoric Society of America's Charles Kneupper Award, given for the year's best article in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, for an essay comparing the rhetorical approaches of Plato, Aristotle and Isocrates.

The scholar of classical Greek rhetoric has now turned her eye to a seemingly unorthodox subject: the postage stamp. Haskins is writing an article on the commemorative rhetoric used in stamps, specifically the US Postal Service's 1999 collectors' series that chronicled, decade by decade, the popular culture of the American Century, from the Wright Brothers to Seinfeld.

"I'm looking at commemoration as a process that creates a certain mythology for a culture," said Haskins. She sees in the Postal Service's "Celebrate the Century" stamp series - in which Cabbage Patch Kids share icon status with the fall of the Berlin Wall - "the "public desire for history making...exploited to serve commercial interests."

The stamps Haskins prefers dramatically render a theme - westward expansion, say, or progress as showcased at a world's fair. "They usually tell quite similar stories," she said, "whether pioneers pushing westward, or locomotives rushing through the countryside."

Her favorite public monuments include the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Holocaust Memorial in downtown Boston. "I like commemorative memorials as parks," she added. "I think of Gettysburg - the whole area creates a certain feeling by environment, creates an emotion that puts you in the right frame of mind."

-Mark Sullivan

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