I’ll be the inaugural speaker at the Toronto Botanical Garden‘s HortiCULTURE Salon Series tonight, 17 May 2012 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
My talk, titled “Imagining Toronto the Wild,” will explore Toronto’s culture-nature nexus. Here’s the official description:
“Crack open the concrete city and you’ll encounter landscapes shaped by ravines and buried watercourses, their contours home to creatures much more interesting than humans. Join Imagining Toronto author Amy Lavender Harris on a literary voyage into Toronto the wild.”
Some of the questions tonight’s talk will pose include: How (and where) do culture and nature intersect in the imagined city? Are raccoons our urban avatars? What underlies our ambivalence about feral cats? How serious a threat are raccoons, bears, opossums another the other ‘invaders’ who’ve made their way (back) into the city? And finally, what do imaginative representations of urban animals tell us about wildlife, ourselves and the urban spaces we share?
Recommended Reading / Viewing
Armstrong, Kelley, 2001. Bitten. Toronto: Random House Canada. [novel, set partly in Toronto, about a pack of urban werewolves.]
Cat City. Justine Pimlott/ Red Queen Productions. 2009. Documentary about feral cat populations in Toronto. [Trailer, via Youtube.]
Grady, Wayne. 1995. Toronto the Wild: Field Notes of an Urban Naturalist. Toronto : Macfarlane Walter & Ross.
Harris, Amy Lavender, 2010. Imagining Toronto. Toronto: Mansfield Press. [see especially "Ravine City," "Toronto the Wild" and "The Liminal City"]
Kuitenbrouwer, Kathryn, 2012. “Corpse.” In The Walrus. January 2012: 50-57. [short story about teeanged boys who hunt a deer in Toronto's High Park.]
MacEwen, Gwendolyn, 1985. “The Demon of Thursday.” In Noman’s Land. Toronto: Coach House. [a tragic short story about buffalo who escape from the High Park Zoo.]
Raccoon Nation. The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. 2011. Documentary about urban raccoons.
Seton, Ernest Thompson, 1989. Wild Animals I Have Known. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. See, for example, “Redruff, the Story of the Don Valley Partridge.”
York, Alyssa, 2010. Fauna. Toronto: Random House of Canada. (author’s website; Globe & Mail review)
Media Reportage of Urban Wildlife
Urban feral cat population booming (Toronto Star, 23 November 2008)
Beach coyote ‘brazen,’ dog owner warns(Toronto Star, 24 February 2009)
Fur flies over Bluffers Park cat colony(Toronto Star, 19 June 2009)
Coyote fears grow in GTA (Toronto Star, 11 November 2009)
Cats now housebound in Oakville–or owners face fine (Toronto Star, 17 January 2011).
Coyotes dining on Bluffers feral cats (Toronto Star, 8 February 2011)
‘They’re destroying my garden’ says man charged with attacking raccoons (Toronto Star, 1 June 2011)