Dr Swati Moitra is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, at Gurudas College, University of Calcutta. She has earlier taught at Shivaji College and Miranda House, University of Delhi, and NMIMS, Mumbai. Her areas of interest include book history and histories of readership, nineteenth-century studies and early Indian writing in English. She is a recipient of the Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship 2013 and the SHARP Research Development Grant for BIPOC Scholars 2022, for a project investigating multilingual print in the Gangetic region. A bilingual scholar, she has written and published scholarly and popular articles in Bengali and English.


”A Nice Garden’: landscapes of power in Toru Dutt’s poetry’

My study proposes to engage with the poetry of Toru Dutt, an early Indian poet in English. Dutt writes extensively on the beauty of her family-owned gardens, its curated rows of exotic casuarina trees reminding her of English poplars. Elsewhere, her letters express disgust with the Indian quarters of Calcutta, its chaos and dirt, its narrow roads, its ‘unhealthy’ ponds and kutcha huts occupied by the city’s migrant labour, and its frequent struggles with drainage. I propose to reconsider Dutt’s writing in the light of Calcutta’s urban history and struggles with reclamation of land, in the light of elite land-grab in the native quarters of a city that was not quite land. I intend to move away from the temptation to read Dutt’s aesthetic rejection of the native quarters of Calcutta as purely a rejection of urban civilization in the Romantic mould, arguing that her embrace of Baugmaree must also be understood in the context of Dutts’ ‘power over the land’ (Chattopadhyay 2007). I hope for a renewed engagement with poetry, power, and the city’s never-ending entanglement with ‘unreal estate’ (Bhattacharyya 2018)


  • (2023, March). ‘Padmabati of the Oceans: Unfreedom and Belonging in Syed Alaol’s Padmabati‘, In Menon, D.M., & Zaidi, N., Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought (1st ed.). Routledge India.
  • (2023, January). ‘Bangalir Pathasanskriti: Adarsha Pathak o Alash Pathika.’ In Boi o Pather Bhabishyat, edited by Sanjib Mukhopadhyay. Nirjhar Sankalan. Kolkata: Nirjhar, 2023.
  • (2022, January). ‘The Return of the Goddess: Amitabh Ghosh’s Gun Island and the Manasamangal‘, In Sk Sagir Ali, Goutam Karmakar and Nasima Islam, Religion in South Asian Anglophone Literature: Traversing Resistance, Margins and Extremism, 47-59. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.


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