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African American Literature. February 13, 2014. Agenda. Finish viewing of Episode 1 – Discuss Notes Notes: Phillis Wheatley Poems and Letters – Read and analyze. Phillis Wheatley. First African American to publish a book and establish an international reputation as a writer.
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African American Literature February 13, 2014
Agenda • Finish viewing of Episode 1 – Discuss Notes • Notes: Phillis Wheatley • Poems and Letters – Read and analyze
Phillis Wheatley • First African American to publish a book and establish an international reputation as a writer
Phillis Wheatley • Born in West Africa in 1753 (?), enslaved in America • Purchased in 1761 by John Wheatley, of Boston, from the slave ship “Phillis”
Phillis Wheatley • Early indications of intellectual precociousness prompted Wheatley family to encourage Phillis to study the Bible and read English and Latin literature • She began to write poetry in English after only 4 years of exposure to the English language
Phillis Wheatley • Anxious about her delicate health, Wheatley family lightened her work load to light household duties • First poem published in newspaper in 1767, with more to follow • Travelled to England in 1773 to oversee publishing of her book
Phillis Wheatley • Emancipated at the age of 20 • In 1776, wrote a letter and poem to George Washington to encourage his pursuit of liberty • Remained in the Wheatley household until both died, then married a free black man
Phillis Wheatley • Wrote nothing during first 5 years of marriage • Family not financially stable…lived in poverty • Published several poems in 1784 prior to her death on December 5, 1784
“On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” (1770) • Read and mark the poem’s rhyme scheme • Left margin: what is the poem saying? (summary phrases ok)
“On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” (1770) • What did you notice about the poem’s language and structure?
Homework • Read and annotate “To His Excellency General Washington” • (Do the same thing we did in class today…rhyme scheme, summary phrases, etc.)
Closing conversation… • In what ways could this poem/poet have been considered controversial?