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Phillis Wheatley 1753 - 1784. Boston Womens Memorial Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley & Lucy Stone commemorated for their writing and their impact on society.

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Presentation on theme: "Phillis Wheatley 1753 - 1784. Boston Womens Memorial Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley & Lucy Stone commemorated for their writing and their impact on society."— Presentation transcript:

1 Phillis Wheatley

2 Boston Womens Memorial Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley & Lucy Stone commemorated for their writing and their impact on society. Each figure represents a different age and creative temperament. The women have come down off their pedestals (as in this century women have, symbolically) in order to use them as work surfaces.

3 Wheatley Background Relating her to Bradstreet Acknowledging neo-classic tradition (Neo-classic tradition: a. A revival in literature in the late 17th and 18th centuries, characterized by a regard for the classical ideals of reason, form, and restraint.) Use of Figurative Language

4 Figurative Language Definition: Figurative language is a word or phrase that departs from everyday literal language for the sake of comparison, emphasis, clarity, or freshness. Examples of use: Metaphors, similes, hyberbole, synechdoche, puns, and personification are all figures of speech.

5 Personification Definition: A figure of speech where animals, ideas or inorganic objects are given human characteristics. (UNCP) By giving human characteristics to things that do not have them, it makes these objects and their actions easier to visualize for a reader. Personification is most often used in poetry, coming to popularity during the 18th century. Example: In James Stephenss poem "The Wind: The wind stood up and gave a shout. He whistled on his two fingers. and Kicked the withered leaves about….And thumped the branches with his hand.

6 Wheatley reviewed As James A. Levernier notes, Wheatley used her considerable linguistic talent to embed in the poem, at a very sophisticated level, a far different message than that which the poem superficially conveys (25). It is through this artful manipulation of the English language that we are able to gain insight into the full genius of Wheatleys work.

7 Not only is Wheatleys work instrumental in negating the existing belief of African intellectual inferiority; it also provides students a lens through which one can examine an authors craft, emphasizing how authors utilize a combination of personal experiences and preexisting conventions (i.e. poetic devices) to create a voice.

8 In view of her biography, the study of On Being Brought from Africa to America, takes on a new shape and interpretation. It is engaging and enriching for students, like many scholars, to note and address the question of Wheatleys identity. Was she an African slave who fought to subtly attack the institution that raped her of her freedom, or was she a content Negro slave who respected her captors and willingly emulated the literary figures whom she most admired?

9 Debate = is she of histroical significance only, or is she so talented in her own right? In determining information that is important to know and do, it is necessary to look closely at Wheatleys poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America. In eight short lines, Wheatley is able both to examine deeply an issue that thematically connects much of her work and master an effective use of literary and poetic devices. Here, she addresses the issues surrounding the transatlantic slave trade in a manner that appeals to the slave-holder, as well as to the slave. As James A. Levernier notes, Wheatley used her considerable linguistic talent to embed in the poem, at a very sophisticated level, a far different message than that which the poem superficially conveys (25). It is through this artful manipulation of the English language that we are able to gain insight into the full genius of Wheatleys work.

10 TONE Tone is the authors attitude toward the writing (his characters, the situation) and the readers. A work of writing can have more than one tone. An example of tone could be both serious and humorous. Tone is set by the setting, choice of vocabulary and other details. Tone is the attitude that an author takes toward the audience, the subject, or the character. Tone is conveyed through the author's words and details.

11 MOOD Mood is the general atmosphere created by the authors words. It is the feeling the reader gets from reading those words. It may be the same, or it may change from situation to situation. Mood: (sometimes called atmosphere) the overall feeling of the work

12 (these are added as notes in the MOOD slide) Mood is the emotions that you (the reader) feel while you are reading. Some literature makes you feel sad, others joyful, still others, angry. The main purpose for some poems is to set a mood. Writers use many devices to create mood, including images, dialogue, setting, and plot. Often a writer creates a mood at the beginning of the story and continues it to the end. However, sometimes the mood changes because of the plot or changes in characters. Examples of MOODS include: suspenseful, joyful, depressing, excited, anxious, angry, sad, tense, lonely, suspicious, frightened, disgusted

13 This was added as notes to the tone slide Words That Describe Mood Fanciful Melancholy Frightening Mysterious Frustrating Romantic Gloomy Sentimental Happy Sorrowful Joyful Suspenseful Words That Describe Tone Amused Humorous Pessimistic Angry Informal Playful Cheerful Ironic Pompous Horror Light Sad Clear Matter-of-fact Serious Formal Resigned Suspicious Gloomy Optimistic Witty TONE: the way feelings are expressed Tone is the attitude that an author takes toward the audience, the subject, or the character. Tone is conveyed through the author's words and details. Use context clues to help determine the tone. In literature an author sets the tone through words. The possible tones are as boundless as the number of possible emotions a human being can have. Has anyone ever said to you, "Don't use that tone of voice with me?" Your tone can change the meaning of what you say. Tone can turn a statement like, " You're a big help!" into a genuine compliment or a cruel sarcastic remark. It depends on the context of the story.

14 Tone Tone: the writer's attitude toward the material and/or readers. (Brooklyn, CUNY) Examples for use: Tone may be playful, formal, intimate, angry, serious, ironic, outraged, baffled, tender, serene, depressed, etc.

15 On Virtue ~ Phillis Wheatley Definitions of Virtue (Merriam Webster online, accessed on 10/2/12) 1 a: conformity to a standard of right : MORALITY b: a particular moral excellence MORALITY 2 plural: an order of angels see CELESTIAL HIERARCHY CELESTIAL HIERARCHY 3: a beneficial quality or power of a thingbeneficial 4: manly strength or courage : VALOR VALOR 5: a commendable quality or trait : MERIT MERIT 6: a capacity to act : POTENCY POTENCY 7: chastity especially in a womanchastity

16 Wheatley Prior to Wheatley, major canonical texts include Puritan poetry (Anne Bradstreet [ ]), nonfiction pieces (William Bradfords Of Plymouth Plantation [1650]), and sermons (Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God [1741]). Prior knowledge of the Puritan era and its seminal texts enables readers of Wheatley to note how Puritan ideologies helped shape her work and how her work is a departure from these ideals. In her essay Phillis Wheatley's Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology, Mary Balkun asserts that Wheatleys writing was for a bifurcated audience. She writes poems intended for her Christian audience, yet many of her poems use a variety of literary techniques to take the audience from a position of initial confidence and agreement, to confusion and uncertainty, to a new ideological position at the conclusion of each poem (Balkun 121). Through Wheatleys poetry it is evident that she is a product of Puritan ideology, and through her writing (particularly her elegies) she appeals to that audience. However, it can also be clearly noted that she possesses many ideals stemming from Enlightenment ideals such as the preoccupation with freedom and equality, evident through her use of sarcasm and irony (Balkun 121).

17 Some critics have been disturbed that her poetry is not more attuned to modern politlcal and racial awareness, that she seems to have adopted a "white voice" and abandoned her own race. This hardly seems fair, though it has led many to focus on the tragedy of her life rather than her poetry. Collins argues that her work should also be explored to see how the slave mentality affected her self- identity, although he acknowledges her slave condition was most unusual. Is she demeaning her own blackness in many poems, or is she establishing credibility based on her unique experience? She had to tread a very fine line-- between her own feelings, her patrons and readers, and the Christian God in whom she devoutedly believed.

18 Phillis was seized from Senegal/Gambia, West Africa, when she was about seven years old. She was transported to the Boston docks with a shipment of "refugee" slaves, who because of age or physical frailty were unsuited for rigorous labor in the West Indian and Southern colonies, the first ports of call after the Atlantic crossing. In the month of August 1761, "in want of a domestic," Susanna Wheatley, wife of prominent Boston tailor John Wheatley, purchased "a slender, frail female child... for a trifle" because the captain of the slave ship believed that the waif was terminally ill, and he wanted to gain at least a small profit before she died. A Wheatley relative later reported that the family surmised the girlwho was "of slender frame and evidently suffering from a change of climate," nearly naked, with "no other covering than a quantity of dirty carpet about her"to be "about seven years old... from the circumstances of shedding her front teeth." After discovering the girl's precociousness, the Wheatleys, including their son Nathaniel and their daughter Mary, did not entirely excuse Phillis from her domestic duties but taught her to read and write. Soon she was immersed in the Bible, astronomy, geography, history, British literature (particularly John Milton and Alexander Pope), and the Greek and Latin classics of Vergil, Ovid, Terence, and Homer. In "To the University of Cambridge in New England" (probably the first poem she wrote but not published until 1773) Phillis indicated that despite this exposure, rich and unusual for an American slave, her spirit yearned for the intellectual challenge of a more academic atmosphere.John MiltonAlexander PopeVergil


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