2010 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium:
“Stamps and the Mail: Imagery, Icons, & Identity”
Thursday and Friday, September 30 - October 1, 2010
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Our symposia to date have largely looked at stamps in terms of the work they perform moving the mail in various ways (transportation) and under various conditions (wartime), but what about the stamps themselves. As they have evolved since 1840, their designs, initially a secondary function, are now encoded with historical, cultural, and political messages. Stamps, as official government documents, can be treated as primary resources designed to convey specific political and esthetic messages. Other topics and themes for the symposium are: Stamp design’s influence on advertising envelopes and bulk mailings, censorship of stamps as propaganda as used on letters, and the role of the citizens' stamp committee or organizations that generate the designs.
Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies
Acting Chair, Department of Language and Foreign Studies
Affiliate Professor of International Relations, SIS
American University - Washington D.C.
Jack’s latest book, Miniature Messages: The Semiotics and Politics of Latin American Postage Stamps (2008 Duke University Press) considers the postage stamp to be a unique kind of sign, with an impressive capacity to convey a number of messages in a very small space.