As a young mother and a survivor of a bad marriage, Debra Gwartney rejects the gender expectations of the cowboy culture in which she was raised and flees her Idaho homeland for more liberal climes. After many years and the passing of her family’s patriarch, Gwartney returns to confront her roots and discover the person she has become. Her unlikely helpmate in this self-discovery is the failed missionary Narcissa Prentiss Whitman (1808-47) whose life and violent death become an obsession for the author. As a result, Gwartney comes to recognize that the woman she initially despised for her fanaticism and lack of empathy for native peoples shares strengths and shortcomings she must acknowledge in herself.
Winner of the 2018 River Teeth Literary Non-Fiction Award for her memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself, Debra Gwartney
lives in western Oregon and is a member of the faculty of the MFA program in writing at Pacific University. Copies of Debra Gwartney’s I Am a Stranger Here Myself are available at the Whitman College Bookstore.
Sponsored by the Department of Anthropologyand the Office of the Dean of Students
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Olin Hall, Auditorium
920 E Isaacs, Walla Walla, WA