lithograph of Phillis Wheatley Peters

Phillis Wheatley Peters in Material Memory

Barbara McCaskill, Sarah Ruffing Robbins, Ashley Cataldo, and Elizabeth Watts Pope with a special guest appearance by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at 4pm ET

This virtual program is free, but registration is required. You will be sent an email with a link and instructions on how to join the program upon registration. Closed captioning is available as an option via Zoom’s live transcription.

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2023 marks the 250th publication anniversary of Phillis Wheatley Peters’ Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Throughout this anniversary year, The Genius of Phillis Wheatley Peters: A Poet and Her Legacies, a project directed by the University of Georgia and Texas Christian University, honors the occasion as a milestone in both literary and historical terms generating countless cultural legacies.

During this virtual program, Barbara McCaskill and Sarah Ruffing Robbins, co-directors of the Phillis Wheatley Peters Project, will investigate the material memory of Wheatley Peters’ authorship by spotlighting items held in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view collection material live while AAS curators Ashley Cataldo and Elizabeth Watts Pope share commentary on each item and examine Wheatley Peters in connection with social movements such as anti-slavery activism and American nation-building.

To register for other events part of The Genius of Phillis Wheatley Peters please visit:

Honorée Fanonne JeffersHonorée Fanonne Jeffers is a poet, writer, and essayist. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Age of Phillis (2020) and The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (2021). The Age of Phillis was long-listed for the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry. Jeffers has received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress, among others, and she has received two lifetime achievement notations, including induction into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. Jeffers is professor of English at University of Oklahoma.

Barbara McCaskillBarbara McCaskill is Professor of English at the University of Georgia and Associate Academic Director, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Her most recent books are Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory (UGA Press, 2016) and The Magnificent Reverend Peter Thomas Stanford, Transatlantic Activist and Race Man (UGA Press, 2020), with Sidonia Serafini. She has co-edited with Caroline Gebhard African American Literature in Transition, 1880-1900 for the Cambridge University Press series. She is co-P.I. of “Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District,” a multiyear collaboration funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Sarah Ruffing RobbinsSarah Ruffing Robbins is Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature at TCU. Coordinator of numerous grant-funded public humanities initiatives, she has published ten academic books, over four dozen peer-reviewed essays, and a range of writings for general readers in print and digital formats. Sarah began her academic career as a secondary schoolteacher and continues to collaborate with K-12 educators in participatory humanities initiatives, including the National Writing Project’s NEH-funded Building a More Perfect Union project that has supported dozens of local humanities programs around the country. Previous books deeply informed by research at the AAS include Sarah’s Choice-award-winning Managing Literacy, Mothering America (2004; 2006) and her Learning Legacies: Archive to Action through Women’s Cross-Cultural Teaching (2017).

Ashley CataldoAshley Cataldo is curator of manuscripts at the American Antiquarian Society. She is responsible for selecting, cataloging, and making accessible the Society's collection of diaries, correspondence, and other papers. She served as assistant curator of manuscripts for four years and, prior to that, held a variety of positions at AAS, including cataloger of books, reference assistant, and digital expediting assistant. Ashley holds an MA in English from Clark University and has pursued graduate work toward a PhD in history also at Clark University. Ashley has published articles on early American bookbinding, presented on seventeenth-century manuscript culture, and is interested in the intersection of information studies and the environmental humanities.

Elizabeth PopeElizabeth Watts Pope is curator of books and digitized collections at the American Antiquarian Society. Her goal is to connect people to their history by providing access to printed and digitized sources, especially focusing on under-documented groups. Elizabeth promotes, makes accessible, and builds upon the strengths of the Society’s unparalleled collection of early American books and pamphlets. She works closely with digitization partners to make AAS collection material as widely available as possible. Her previous position at the Society was as the head of readers' services; prior to that she worked in acquisitions at AAS and in the archives at the Dodd Center at the University of Connecticut. She has an MA in history from the University of Connecticut.

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