Coordinated by Betsy Erkkila, Northwestern University and Robert Morrissey, Lake Forest College
April 14, 2011, 5:30–7:00 p.m.
Phillis Wheatley and the Revolutionary Transatlantic
Betsy Erkkila, Northwestern University
Phillis Wheatley was the first poet of the American Revolution, the first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in English, and the first American of either sex to publish a book of poetry that addresses social and political events. And yet because Wheatley is a poet, her work has not been recognized by either historians or literary critics for the historically and imaginatively rich record it presents of the American and the transatlantic freedom struggle told from the point of view of an African woman poet and slave. By reading Wheatley’s writings as works of simultaneously imaginative and political creation, this paper will seek to illuminate hitherto unstudied or understudied dimensions of the Revolutionary transatlantic, including the contribution her writing made to the nascent antislavery movement, the Black Atlantic literary tradition, and our understanding of the American Revolution in its more socially revolutionary and transnational context.
All papers are pre-circulated electronically to those who plan to attend the seminar in person. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Heather Radke at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312-255-3524. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.
The Newberry Library Seminar in Early American History and Culture
Co-sponsored by the History Departments of DePaul University, Lake Forest College, Loyola University Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago
Scholl Center for
American History and Culture
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago IL 60610
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