5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
“Phillis Wheatley and Forgetting to Mourn”
Caroline Wigginton, Rutgers University
This paper explores the potent role of affect, divine knowledge, and intimacy in Phillis Wheatley’s funeral elegies, especially those for children. Placing these poems within the context of New England and African mourning rituals, I argue that she aligns herself with a community of the dead through repeatedly indicating her epistemic similarity to the deceased subjects of her elegies and her affective dissimilarity to her living audience. In doing so, she insists upon a circumscribed formulation of community that relies upon distinctions and bonds other than those of gender or race.
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