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Eric Hairston Contributes Chapter to American Literature Book

Eric Ashley Hairston, associate professor of English and law and humanities, authored a chapter in the recently-published book, New Essays on Phillis Wheatley, edited by John C. Shields, distinguished professor of English at Illinois State University, and Dr. Eric Lamore.

New Essays on Phillis Wheatley examines Wheatley’s work with a variety of critical lenses, including Hairston’s analysis of her use of Greek and Latin classical sources. In his chapter, Hairston argues that Wheatley’s use of the classics is philologically sound, politically-charged and foundational in the broader African-American literary tradition.

Wheatley’s volume of poetry, Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral, was the first African-American publication in America, but generations of literary critics resisted the idea that a black woman could produce classically-infused, rich verse or influence other American and European writers.

The editors of the volume note that “in recent decades, however, Wheatley’s work has come under new scrutiny as the literature of the eighteenth century and the impact of African American literature have been reconceived. In these never-before-published essays, fourteen prominent Wheatley scholars consider her work from a variety of angles, affirming her rise into the first rank of American writers.”

Information on the book can be found at http://utpress.org/bookdetail-2/?jobno=T01376.

Eric Hairston,
Faculty
6/16/2011 4:29 PM