The Past, Present, and Future of Phillis Wheatley: 250 Years Later

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Virtual Conversation
United States

Moderated by Dr. Tara Bynum, this conversation with poets Dr. drea brown and Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs will explore the life and legacy of Phillis Wheatley in the wake of the 250th anniversary of the celebration of her seminal work, Poems on Various Subjects. As Bynum writes in a letter to Gumbs, “Wheatley writes and publishes a collection of poems and (depending on who you ask), she helps author an entire literary tradition. But as we peer into her world, what we see isn’t radical so much as it is what we must do and what we actually do often without thinking or even intent – make friends and fellowship/worship together.” Join these three contemporary Black writers as they make fellowship in celebration of Wheatley’s living and ongoing influence.

Dr. drea brown is the author of dear girl: a reckoning (Gold Line Press, 2015), and co-editor of Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Life and Literature (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). Their writing has appeared in publications such as Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, About Place Journal, Smithsonian Magazine, and Zócalo Public Square. drea is currently an assistant professor in the English Department at Texas State University.

Dr. Tara Bynum is an Assistant Professor of English & African American Studies and a scholar of early African American literary histories before 1800. She received her PhD in English from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Political Science from Barnard College. Her book Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in America (University of Illinois Press, 2023), examines the ways in which 18th-century enslaved and/or free men and women feel good or experience pleasure in spite of the privations of slavery, “unfreedom,” or white supremacy.

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all life. She is/they are the author of several books, most recently Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (AK Press, 2020), and the co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Trust, an intergenerational experiential living library of Black LBGTQ brilliance.

This event is the kickoff of a monthlong celebration of Wheatley's life and work here at the Library Company, which culminates in a three-session seminar taught by Dr. Bynum. To register for the seminar, click here:

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