Publication Details

O'Donnell, M. "Walking, writing and dreaming: Rebecca Solnit’s polyphonic voices." Journalilsm 16 .7 (2015): 936-952.


American writer Rebecca Solnit has published 17 books since 1990, ranging from biography to cultural histories and art criticism to personal essays. Because her work is not easily classified and because she sits at the intersection of a number of different fields, her work provides a particularly interesting case study of hybrid practices in contemporary non-fiction. This article argues that her work is a form of literary journalism: polyphonic open journalism. Solnit’s work demonstrates traces and practices arising from her training as a journalist that she has combined them with writerly and activist practices that produce a distinctive open form of literary journalism. This article develops a detailed case study of Solnit’s Savage Dreams, her book-length investigation of the Nevada Test Site and Yosemite National Park, in order to show how her writing pursues a range of open-ended, associative strategies that create a choral effect: she moves from evocative to proclamatory to exegetical modes of writing as part of this multivoiced strategy.



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