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“Phillis Wheatley Peters and African Lineage and Kinship in The Age of Phillis” Public Program
In her newest book of poetry, The Age of Phillis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers uses creative strategies based upon fifteen years of archival research to shift emphasis away from the usual historical narratives on Phillis Wheatley Peters. Scholars of Wheatley Peters have usually focused on her life following her enslavement as a small child, beginning her biography with her 1761 arrival in Boston Harbor. However, with rare exceptions, there have been scant examinations of—or even speculations about—the pre-slavery life of the African child renamed Phillis, especially concerning her birth parents. Instead, the responsibility for her intellectual, creative, and emotional development has been gifted to her white slaveowners. While most of the discussions of West African influences on this eighteenth-century poet have taken a disembodied approach, addressing these influences in isolation from familial realities, Jeffers eschews this approach, moving toward emotional considerations of African lineage(s) and kinship.

Nov 5, 2020 08:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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