Overlooking Spirituality: Wheatley

Speaker: Brianne Dayley, Texas Tech U

“Overlooking Spirituality: Negotiating Criticism and Content of Wheatley and Larsen”

critics are not primarily concerned with their writing and race/gender and literary tradition
INSTEAD with the tradition and how they write and whether it matches

Wheatley = First published African-American and woman.
Questioning literary quality
Grouping mostly:
1. exploration of work as classical tradition, John Shields “subversive message that she and her black brothers must be free”—but said she doesn’t work as well as could
2. historical, social participation and critique

figure who uses classical and Christian styles:
but perpetuates idea that she reproduces what had already been done

others say race/gender limited her accomplishments

thematic significance is lost by biographical/historical critics

Wheatley’s work shows complex negotiation
conflates boundaries between classical and Christian
tropes of traditions
ambiguous—narratives (classical or Christian), which are favored/preferred/prioritized
Christ sends muses…
Vocabulary—capital letters, emphasis of abstract ideas in order to personify
Not just classical (grace= muse or God’s grace)
Heavenly Art (artistic expression or art/hand of God)
She negotiated places that critics now separate.

Critics have dismissed the religious exploration and used it to explain the unfinished/under-developed (as they understand it) investigation of gender and race.

Notes from CCTE 2016: Literature 3: Post-Colonial

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