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Title: Phillis Wheatley and the politics of textual hybridity
Author: Munzing, Helen Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0001 3432 1927
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2000
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Phillis Wheatley famously became the first black woman to publish a book of poems when Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral appeared in London in 1773. For literary scholars the publication ofthis book has made her a key figure of black vernacular traditions and discussions of racial identity throughout the twentieth century. This thesis examines a variety of Wheatley's texts published in England and New England in the early to mid-1770s. It also considers the different historical contexts in which these texts were published and how they have influenced their production. In chapter two the publication history of Poems, the text upon which twentiethcentury literary critics have primarily focused, is considered. It is argued that Poems was primarily produced for the consumption of a London rather than a New England audience and that the text is explicable only through the London context. Chapter three provides a discussion of Wheatley's identity within the context of New England religious debate in the early 1770s. It is argued that as a result of the growth of heterogeneous religious styles, New Englanders were preoccupied with the issue of identifying and displaying a converted identity. Wheatley's early broadsides were part of the local printers' response to this need, and became a commercial vehicle through which the conversion of the New England consumer could be displayed. Chapter four goes on to discuss several of Wheatley's texts published in New England newspapers and magazines during the war years with England. It is argued that the representation of Wheatley in the early years of the Revolution reflected the developments in slavery discourses as the rebellion against England progressed. In chapter five it is concluded that there are in fact many different Phillis Wheatleys, each having a distinct identity as a result of the myriad of influences in each particular market. It is argued therefore that Wheatley's racial representation was formed out of the social and economic contradictions within eighteenth-century society and a variety of mediating factors. The implications of these [mdings for critical practices of studying identity are discussed.
Supervisor: Mulvey, Chris ; Lloyd-Smith, Allan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available