Namrata Poddar

Professional Bio 

Namrata Poddar writes fiction, non-fiction, and translates Francophone writers of Afro-Asian diaspora into English too. She holds a Ph.D. in French from the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles, and MFA in Fiction from Bennington College. As a cultural critic, she has written on migration, environmental, and tourism narratives from islands in English and in French for various journals and special issues on the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian ocean, including International Journal of French Studies, Research in African Studies, Dalhousie French Studies, and Itinéraires. Her stories, creative non-fiction, and translations have appeared in various print and online journals, including Literary Orphans, Jaggery, The Feminist Wire, Transition, The Margins, The Missing Slate, Literary Hub, Necessary Fiction, forthcoming ones from The Caravan Hayden's Ferry Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Her story “Excursion” was awarded the first prize at the contest organized by 14th international short story conference 2016, held in Shanghai, and judged by Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise. She is currently at work on a fiction book manuscript and teaches multiethnic literature and creative writing in the English department and Honors Collegium at UCLA.

Area of Expertise 

As an academic, my doctoral and postdoctoral research, teaching, and writing have focused on contemporary and alternative narratives of multiculturalism from smaller islands, especially those of the Indian Ocean with a richer, older and layered history of migration and cross-cultural contact than the New World. Through a lens of migration, oceanic, environmental and tourism studies, my scholarly work has explored the other side of the tourist postcard, or the popular image of islands as tropical Edens and desert getaways, away from the bustling humdrum of urban civilizations. More recently, I transitioned from a world of transitional literary criticism to a predominantly white American creative writing workshop culture, as I pursued an MFA in fiction at Bennington Writing Seminars, a highly prestigious low-residency MFA program in the US. This transition from academic to creative writing gifted me the dual perspective of a critic-cum-fiction writer to look at a world of contemporary American letters and its implicit, hegemonic aesthetic assumptions. I now write about and teach contemporary multiethnic, immigrant, and postcolonial fiction at UCLA through this dual perspective and help my students explore modes of storytelling that question and subvert the aesthetic assumptions of a “mainstream,” white, male, Western mode of storytelling.

Workshop Locations 
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