"Strange Longings": Phillis Wheatley and the African American Literary Imagination
Gainey-O'Toole, Charita Elaine
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AbstractThroughout the African American literary tradition, writers have engaged Phillis Wheatley as a forebear, invoking her poetry and her biography for a number of purposes. Because the ways in which black writers treat race in their literature changes over time, these writers’ evocations of Wheatley respond accordingly. Wheatley falls in and out of favor over the course of African American literary history, but she remains a recurring figure in the nearly 250-year history of the tradition. Although portrayals of Wheatley evolve over time, various forms of longing inform all representations of the poet. Furthermore, these longings reflect the ways in which African Americans’ identity formation is ever changing and inextricably linked to the historical moment.
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