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Writing Workshops

Writing Diverse Characters with Mathangi Subramanian


1 Session

In stock

Sunday, 12:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT March 17, 2024

Online via Zoom

As the publishing industry diversifies, writers are becoming more and more thoughtful about writing characters outside of their identities and experiences—a process Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward calls “Writing the Other.” Although it is vital to treat marginalized characters with great care, writers often begin the process of “writing the other” with false assumption that our identities – and, as a result, our power within institutions – remain unchanged over time. But what happens when we acquire or discover identities we never knew we possessed after creating characters we mistakenly othered? If shaping stories shapes who we are, how do we contend with the fact that the very process of writing may drastically shift how we identify? Why are we attracted to writing about “the other” instead of writing about ourselves? In this talk, Dr. Mathangi Subramanian will trouble the idea of a fixed other while offering strategies for working with diverse characters in ways that acknowledge the dynamic nature of identity. Students will leave the lecture with concrete strategies for researching and writing identities beyond their own, an analytical framework for how to choose identities for their characters, a critical lens for assessing their own identities, and a strong sense of the possibilities inherent in their own multiple, dynamic identities.


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  • 2Coimbatore 1_Santhosh Ramdoss photographer - Mathangi Subramanian

    Mathangi Subramanian

    Mathangi Subramanian

    Mathangi Subramanian is a neurodiverse South Asian American novelist and essayist. Her middle grade book Dear Mrs. Naidu won the South Asia Book award, and her novel A People’s History of Heaven was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner prize and The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her picture book A Butterfly Smile was inducted into the Nobel Museum by economics laureate Dr. Esther Duflo. She is a guest artist at Denver School of the Arts and she holds a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College.