What can the 18th-century Black, enslaved teenage poet Phillis Wheatley teach us today about how language can be wielded artfully to create power?
In March, public humanities experts Ann B. Friedman (Founder and CEO, Planet Word Museum in D.C.), Lois Brown (Director, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University), and our own Elisa New (Director and Host, Poetry in America) are coming to South by Southwest EDU to explore these questions with K-12 educators.
Together, they will present Teaching Literature & Civics with Phillis Wheatley, a panel discussing Wheatley’s use of poetry to lobby political actors (including George Washington!), challenge widely held beliefs, and advocate for freedom—including her own and that of other enslaved peoples.
Their conversation will further showcase projects that animate the connections between English Language Arts, Civics, and History for K-12 learners—within and beyond the sphere of the traditional classroom. Offering resources for teaching literature, history, and civics together as parts of the same story, the panel promises to be engaging and informative for attendees.
This panel will include excerpts from the forthcoming Season 4 premiere of the PBS series Poetry in America. The episode explores two poems by Wheatley, a writer who mastered the most persuasive rhetoric of her day to publish enduring arguments about freedom. Check your local listings in April to catch the episode on PBS, or, come back to our homepage on April 1st to stream the full episode for free.
Watch a sneak preview of the episode: