Please join us next Friday, December 1, at 3 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge for our ninth Faculty Colloquium of this semester.
Title: “Outraged Womanhood” and The Campaign to Close Ft. Gaston: Reckoning with the Rape Culture of American Empire
In the early 1890s, Hupa activist William E. Beckwith and Dorcas Spencer, a white woman reformer, effectively closed down a military post based on an exposé of sexual violence, yet outside of Hupa and California history, the story is little known. This paper documents and analyzes their campaign against military management of the Hoopa Reservation in northwestern California, and the broader critique they posed of sexual violence and American expansion. It finds that U.S. military authorities’ response to Beckwith and Spencer, alongside the hundreds of pages of testimony the investigation generated, provides some of the strongest evidence of the rape culture they identified. The talk raises a series of questions for discussion about how to interpret language steeped in the gender and generic conventions of the time; the limits of sources generated and collected as part of the colonizing process and the nature of the colonial archive; and how to weigh consent, given the era’s (and our own) debates about the conditions that enable consent, especially in the violent context of military occupation at that time.
Students are welcome and treats will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there.
Ellen Eisenberg and Bill Kelm
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators