Phillis Wheatley One-Session Seminar with Kirsten Lee

Date / Time

  • November 9, 2023
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

Sponsored by Amy Coes and R. Putnam Coes III


  • Tuition for this course is $40. 10% off for Rosenbach members and the Delancey Society. Not a member? Learn more.
  • Scholarships that cover the cost of tuition are available for this course. Application here.
  • This is an in-person program held at the Rosenbach. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on Wednesday, August 16, for Rosenbach members on Wednesday, August 23, and for the general public on Wednesday, August 30.



This special one-night course includes a lecture, discussion of selected Wheatley poems, and a Collections presentation of our first edition of Poems on various subjects, religious and moral by Phillis Wheatley (1773). 

This course offers participants an introduction to Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral that focuses on how her poetry has been received and memorialized by women’s communities in the eighteenth century and since.  Many of Phillis Wheatley’s surviving letters are addressed to her close friend Obour Tanner. But we do not often name Tanner among her early or influential interpreters. Building on work by Joanna Brooks, Cassander Smith, Brigitte Fielder and Tara Bynum, participants in this one-night seminar will have the opportunity to discuss Wheatley’s poems as well as to learn about Black feminist legacies of studying and memorializing Poems, particularly evident the 1973 Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival and its 50th anniversary revival.

Participants are asked to read the following for discussion:

Phillis Wheatley, from Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral

“To the University of Cambridge, in New-England”

“On Being Brought from Africa to America”

“Thoughts on the Works of Providence”

“To S. M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”

Wheatley readings pdf 

Tara A. Bynum, from Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America

“Phillis Wheatley’s Pleasures,” 23-34

Bynum reading pdf

About the Instructor

Kirsten Lee is a Ph.D. Candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also holds certificates in College and Undergraduate Teaching and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include abolition, migration, 20th century feminisms, queer theory, Black (cultural) studies and early American literature broadly construed. Her dissertation, “Abolition’s Plots: Literature, Speculation, and Black Border/lands in North America, 1763-1886,” turns to feminist geographies to understand the narrative technologies of American westward (and failed southward) expansion. Her work has appeared in Early American Literature and in American Literature in Transition, 1770-1828 from Cambridge University Press. She is a 2023-2024 George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Pennsylvania State University.