Often considered the founder of African American literature, Phillis Wheatley (Peters) was the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book of poems—Poems on Various Subjects: Religious and Moral (London: 1773). Because modern scholars have often privileged print publication, her circulation in manuscript form and its import have garnered less attention. This workshop will consider the multiple meanings and implications of Wheatley’s verse by looking at one particular Boston coterie in which she participated, leveraging it to emancipate herself.
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