Alum Rebecca Solnit on 'Mansplaining' and Her Long Career

Friday, March 03, 2017
Photo of Rebecca Solnit seated near coffee table with tea kettle and cups

ELLE -- While she studied art history at San Francisco State University and journalism at UC Berkeley, she’s a polymath who’s taken on a staggering variety of subjects: from a little-known 1950s West Coast avant-garde art movement (Secret Exhibition: Six California Artists of the Cold War Era, 1990), to Irish history and culture (A Book of Migrations, 1997), to the neighborly altruism that arises in the wake of disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina (A Paradise Built in Hell, 2010), to her mother’s experience with Alzheimer's intercut with a trip Solnit took to Iceland (The Faraway Nearby, 2013).

When — after a year and a half of full-time, scholarship-funded study — she returned to California, Solnit transferred to San Francisco State and soon moved into the studio apartment she'd rent for the next quarter century. After graduating in 1981, she enrolled in the journalism Master’s program at Berkeley while also working at MoMA San Francisco for the then-high wage of $7 an hour.

Photo by David Butow