Just as eighteenth-century Americans believed you could judge a person's character by his face, today’s security experts are banking on the science of biometrics to identify terrorists. In the October 2004 issue of Common-place, (www.common-place.org) Boston University English professor Christopher Lukasik links current identification systems with early America’s fascination with faces. In “The Physiognomy of Biometrics,” Lukasik argues that both systems have difficulty with the simple fact that faces change. In another feature essay, “Slaves in Algiers, Captives in Iraq,” literary scholar Anne Miles uses Susanna Rowson's 1794 play to discuss women, captivity, and Islam, from Rowson's guards and prisoners to Jessica Lynch and Lynddie England. Also in this issue of Common-place, Parkman-prize winner Suzanne Lebsock talks about writing history like fiction, McGill historian James Delbourgo writes about the politics of electricity, and coffee scholar Michelle Craig tours Dominican archives. For these essays and more, visit the web address given below--a common place, an uncommon voice.
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