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October 12, 2011
By Zanny Marsh
The Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno in collaboration with Nevada Humanities will honor Rebecca Solnit, author, journalist, and art critic, as the 2011 Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer, with events to be held Oct. 19-20 in Reno. Solnit will speak at the University about the craft of writing, and at the Nevada Museum of Art in dialogue with education curator Colin Robertson on the museum’s collection and exhibition, The Altered Landscape.
Named by Utne Reader as “one of 25 visionaries who are changing our world,” San Francisco-based essayist and journalist Rebecca Solnit draws from a deep cross section of the ecology of life from which she writes her eloquent works — on art and photography, politics, history, and landscapes urban and rural. A voice for creative and environmental activism, she has published 13 books and numerous essays, is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lannan Literary Award.
Solnit’s award-winning book, A Paradise Built in Hell, was chosen as a best book of the year by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from San Francisco State University and a master’s in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an Andrew D. White professor at large at Cornell University, where she explores themes of environment and social justice.
“Rebecca’s work examines the inextricable relationship between man and the environment,” said Warren Lerude, a longtime Laxalt friend and professor emeritus in the Reynolds School of Journalism. “Recurring themes in the type of writing for which Robert Laxalt is remembered.”
Considered by many to be Nevada’s finest writer, Laxalt founded the University of Nevada Press and wrote 17 books, four of which were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote for National Geographic and was a professor in the University’s Reynolds School of Journalism for 18 years, teaching magazine writing and literary journalism.
The Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program was established posthumously in 2001 to inspire new generations of writers in honor of Laxalt, who developed from news reporter to fiction and nonfiction author during his prolific career. Solnit is the eighth writer to be honored by the program.