Phillis Wheately: The Life and Verse of America's Bard with Dr. Spencer Wells

Phillis Wheately: The Life and Verse of America's Bard with Dr. Spencer Wells


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In 1761, a young woman, Phillis Wheately, was kidnapped from a port in Western Africa and shipped off to Boston as a slave. By 1773 she would begin to make her mark as one of the foremost poets of colonial America. This conversation will explore how Wheately overcame the fetters of slavery to become one of the nation's earliest literary celebrities.

We will pay particular attention to the unique ways in which Wheately critiqued the terrors of slavery in her poetry – as well as the wider impact of her criticism and bravery across the American colonies on the brink of revolution.

Led by an expert on colonial America, Spencer Wells, this Conversation will explore the beginnings of African-American literature in colonial America. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the ways in which slavery impacted American life and literature in colonial America.

To explore additional seminars led by Dr. Spencer Wells on the topic of American History, we invite you to click here.

Phillis Wheately, "Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral"

Spencer Wells received his PhD in American history from William & Mary in 2018. He is particularly interested in the overlap between politics, religion and war. He has taught courses on "Religion and War in Modern America" as well as "God in the White House" at the University of Virginia. He is currently writing a book on dissent in Mormonism in the mid-twentieth century as well as working on a volume on Quakers and religious tolerance in colonial America.

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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