Public Program- Vincent Carretta

Lectures and Performances
Friday, September 28, 2012 - 7:30pm

"In Search of Phillis Wheatley"
by Vincent Carretta

The Twenty-ninth Annual James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture

Phillis Wheatley was only about 7 years old when she stepped off a slave ship in Boston harbor in 1761. She rose from the indignity of enslavement to earn international celebrity, only to die in obscurity and poverty. As the first person of African descent and the second woman in America to publish a book, Wheatley wrote remarkable contributions on topics ranging from religion to politics. Wheatley is now widely recognized as the mother of African-American literature. Despite her contemporaneous fame and subsequent reputation, the many mysteries surrounding her life made a biography of her seemingly impossible until 250 years after she left Africa.

Vincent Carretta
Vincent Carretta, Professor of English at the University of Maryland, specializes in eighteenth-century transatlantic historical and literary studies. He has recently held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the John Carter Brown Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the University of London, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University, and the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. Author of more than 100 articles and reviews, Vin has also written and edited eleven books, most recently Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (2005), The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque The First African Anglican Missionary (2010), co-edited with Ty M. Reese, and Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (2011).

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