Relearning our relationships to the Earth: Rebecca Solnit’s ecofeminism

Henwood, Daisy (2019) Relearning our relationships to the Earth: Rebecca Solnit’s ecofeminism. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2019HenwoodDPhD.pdf]
Download (1MB) | Preview


This thesis argues that Rebecca Solnit’s book-length works offer ways of rethinking human relationships to/on the earth in an era of climate crisis. Savage Dreams (1994), Wanderlust (1999), A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2005), and The Faraway Nearby (2013) contain autobiographical accounts of Solnit’s relationship to the earth, as well as documenting Solnit’s environmental and feminist activism over the last twenty years. Using an ecofeminist framework that focuses on ethics of care and connection in the face of destructive and dominant forces such as capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism, I argue that Solnit’s work not only documents environmental activism, but becomes part of that activism itself by suggesting alternative ways of living in an era of climate crisis.

Reading these texts in terms of the wilderness (chapter one), the desert (chapter two), the city (chapter three) and the road (chapter four), I consider the ways place is both central to Solnit’s work, and a representational tool within it. I thus discuss both Solnit’s content and form on ecofeminist terms, demonstrating that Solnit’s work against dominant power structures goes beyond merely recounting her own experiences of activism; the stylistic connections, wanderings, and affective resonances of Solnit’s works suggest and promote new ways of relating to the earth.

I therefore offer an extended critical engagement with Solnit’s work in order to argue for the increasing importance of her book-length works in the face of planetary uncertainty and unpredictability. I demonstrate the ways Solnit’s writing confronts and accepts these uncertainties, thus refusing the denial and despair that so often characterises climate change discourse. Instead, Solnit’s radically connective ecofeminist narratives are mobilising and moving in their commitment to reconfiguring human-human and human-nonhuman relationships in the face of climate breakdown.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2020 15:13
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2022 01:38


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item