Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-nqqt6 Total loading time: 0.394 Render date: 2022-07-04T13:06:16.815Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Chapter 12 - Silken Fetters

Phillis Wheatley and Ornament as Bondage

from Part III - Pleasures and Ornaments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2021

Andrea Brady
Affiliation:
Queen Mary University of London
Get access

Summary

The book’s final chapter, on the work of Phyllis Wheatley, considers the aesthetics and politics of imitation. Wheatley’s poems both enact and challenge assimilation, by performing a form of Christian whiteness and decorum through acts of imitation for which she has been repeatedly criticised by contemporary readers. But notes of resistance can be heard in her images of chains, oceanic voyages and flight from earthly constraint. Wheatley’s poems transform constraint into ornament, but in a way that ironises her own experiences of capture and enslavement. This introduces a productive incompatibility between the prevailing aesthetic and the experience of bondage that must be overcome if the poem can be written. The chapter argues against contemporary readings of Wheatley as only a ‘sickly little black girl’, for whom whiteness itself was a constraint, and shows how she manages with limited means to particularise dominant poetic traditions to her own experience of enslavement and the Middle Passage.

Type
Chapter
Information
Poetry and Bondage
A History and Theory of Lyric Constraint
, pp. 381 - 413
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Silken Fetters
  • Andrea Brady, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Poetry and Bondage
  • Online publication: 08 October 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108990684.013
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Silken Fetters
  • Andrea Brady, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Poetry and Bondage
  • Online publication: 08 October 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108990684.013
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Silken Fetters
  • Andrea Brady, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Poetry and Bondage
  • Online publication: 08 October 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108990684.013
Available formats
×