Writers and Storytelling: Rebecca Onion

Written by Erin Cox

Posted on November 9, 2020

Filed Under: Blog

Rebecca Onion lives in Athens, Ohio, and writes about culture, history, family, and (sometimes) food for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. She is currently a staff writer for Slate.com. She has also written for Aeon Magazine, the Boston Globe’s Ideas section, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Atlantic‘s website, Topic Magazine, the Austin-American Statesman, PBS’ American Experience website, and others. Rebecca holds a Ph.D and an MA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in American Studies from Yale University. Her book, Innocent Experiments: Childhood and the Culture of Public Science in the United States, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2016. She will be joining Mike Soto, Merrill Markoe, and Aaron Hutcherson on November 17 to tell stories tied to the theme “Up in Smoke.” Register here for the show!

What are you reading right now for solace or escape?

Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis – this is a Hugo-winning novel from 1992 that’s about time-traveling historians who mistakenly send a student back to the time of the Black Death. (Your definition of “solace or escape” may vary!)

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I’d pick the Mars of Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy, because although the Martians have plenty of conflict among them, they still manage to talk about it in a relatively organized way…

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you now or anytime?

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is always my go-to. “This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

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