About the event
The English Graduate Organization and the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Present the Feminist/Queer Dialogue Series
Speaker: Dr. Peter Boag, Department of History, Washington State University
“Tales Grandmother Spun: Settler Colonialism and Domestic Violence as the Warp and Woof of a Westering Family’s (non)Memory”
“Tales Grandmother Spun” concerns my father’s mother, Mary Winona (Plaster) Boag, who was born in Oregon in 1889. I did not know her. The stories most important to her were passed on to me either as oral traditions by others or as written notes that she jotted down and stuffed away in a few materials my father held on to. They are of two varieties. The first, while only fragmentary in form, privileges her father’s history, proudly connecting the Plasters to a national saga of westward expansion that began in Trans-Appalachia in the 1700s and concluded at the end of the Oregon Trail in the 1850s. The second, equally fragmentary, recounts that same father’s abusive, even violent behaviors in my grandmother’s childhood homes in the Willamette Valley.
The two varieties of stories that Grandmother told are seemingly different. But as the only two stories that she did tell, they are intimately connected. Employing the tools of settler-colonial studies, memory studies, and the psychology of domestic violence, I am coming to understand that the connection is traced through webs of power and privilege that patriarchy and whiteness spin. As warp and woof, these stories not only form the fabric of my grandmother’s past, but bind my family’s story into the troubled structures of place, region and nation.