Call for Papers: EAL Special Issue, "Dear Sister: Phillis Wheatley (Peters) Studies Now"

December 05, 2020

DEADLINE: April 30, 2021

The recognition that Phillis Wheatley (Peters) is a significant figure in early American literature has fueled much scholarship in the last three decades centered on her life and literary contributions, culminating most recently in Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s book of poetry The Age of Phillis, which is currently the featured text for the Society of Early Americanists’s first ever common reading initiative. As scholarship about Wheatley continues to grow, this special issue of Early American Literature, “Dear Sister: Phillis Wheatley (Peters) Studies Now,” invites essays that together consider Phillis Wheatley as a field of study. We seek essays that speak to the depth and vastness of Wheatley studies. Potential topics and approaches include but are not limited to:

  • Wheatley’s aesthetics and form
  • Phillis (Wheatley) Peters
  • Digital work and Wheatley studies
  • New archives, archival gaps, blindspots
  • Methodologies
  • Teaching Wheatley in early African American studies
  • Teaching Wheatley beyond early African American studies
  • Wheatley and the American Revolution
  • Wheatley and Black Women’s Studies
  • Wheatley and biography
  • Letter Writing/Epistolary/Genre Studies
  • Wheatley and the history of Capitalism
  • Wheatley in children’s literature
  • Legacies, afterlives of Wheatley
  • Mythologizations of Wheatley (the stories we tell ourselves about Wheatley)
  • Wheatley in 21st century cultural memory 
  • Wheatley’s networks/friends/associations

In addition, essays might address questions such as the following: What is a field of Wheatley Studies? What is the current state of that field? What does it mean to be a Wheatley scholar? How has the study of Wheatley been shaped by our current socio-political moment (however we define the current moment)? Despite the recognition of Wheatley’s literary significance, why might she still be an understudied figure of early (African) America? What aspects of Wheatley’s life and literature have been neglected? How might we address her childhood pre-enslavement? How do we wrestle with the fact that she is “Peters” for the last five years of her life? How do we study those years about which we know relatively little? How has Wheatley scholarship affected pedagogical practices? How do we teach Wheatley within the context of her moment and in ours.

We welcome submissions exploring a wide range of approaches to Wheatley, from the methodological to the pedagogical. We especially welcome essays focused on the teaching of Wheatley. We invite full-length essays (8,000 words) for consideration. The deadline to submit your essay is April 30, 2021. Please send essays and/or inquiries to special issue editors with the subject line: Wheatley Special Issue question/submission:

Tara Bynum,

Brigitte Fielder,

Cassander L. Smith,