The Book

Imagining Toronto book cover

Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press, fall 2010) is available at most bookstores and online through Mansfield Press, Amazon or Chapters.

Imagining Toronto was shortlisted for the 2010 Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism and won the Award of Merit, the highest honour given to a book at the 2011 Heritage Toronto Awards.

Upcoming Events

25-26 February 2012: "Going Native: Reclaiming Aboriginal Identity in Toronto Literature," “Landscapes of Difference, Espaces de Difference, Raume der Differenz” conference (Session: The Politcs of Place: Urban Sites of Contestation), Canadian Studies Association in German-speaking countries (GKS). Grainau, Germany.

Thursday 15 March 2012: Guest lecture, "The Imagined City," ARC 120, Contemporary Architecture. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto; Isabel Bader Theatre, 9:45-11:00 am.

Wednesday 4 April 2012: "Representing Toronto: Mapping the Role of the Artist in the Contemporary City. Panel discussion. Presented by Koffler Gallery in partnership with Diaspora Dialogues. 80 Spadina Ave., Suite 503; 7:00 pm.

Sunday 22 April 2012: Reading from Acts of Salvage at the Draft Reading Series. Details TBA.

Thursday 3 May 2012: "Literary Bodies." Panel discussion as part of Bodies in the City, a symposium of the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto.

Thursday 17 May 2012: "Imagining Toronto the Wild" at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Inaugural lecture of the TBG's new HortiCULTURE salon series.

Recent Events

Tuesday 18 October 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand Up?: Regent Park, St. Jamestown and Cabbagetown in the Literary Imagination. Parliament Branch (269 Gerrard St. E.)

Saturday 1 October 2011, 2:00-3:30 pm: The Masseys and the Masses: Social and Spatial Ascendency in Rosedale and Forest Hill. Forest Hill Branch (700 Eglinton Ave. W.)

Tuesday 27 September 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: From Streetcar Suburb to Multicultural Community: Riverdale in the Literary Imagination. Riverdale Branch, Toronto Public Library (370 Broadview Ave.)

Click here for past events.

Fall Events Update

We’re gearing up for a busy fall here at the Imagining Toronto project: hope you’ll be able to join us for some of this season’s events!

First, here are things reviewers are saying about the Imagining Toronto book: Quill & Quire calls it “a wise, thoughtful, and careful book,” Torontoist describes it as “often lively, and always attentive” and adding, “Harris is at her writerly best when telling us how Toronto is and was, spinning out stories about the city’s geography and history.” BlogTO confirms this assessment, calling the book “a worthy survey” and observing that “some of the best moments in her book are descriptions of the city, be they of its geography, streetscape, built environment or residents.” Danforth Review editor Michael Bryson points out that the book “provides more than ample proof to contradict the skeptics who think that Toronto hasn’t been deeply engaged as a subject in literature” and points to its inclusion of three centuries worth of Toronto narratives as a particular strength. Cadence Canada writes effusively of the book: “It is jam-packed with neat, stylish quotes about Toronto from some of its greatest writers […] Imagining Toronto is not a history of the city, but it goes about reuniting the buried and the groundbreaking.”

Finally, Pickle Me This reviewer Kerry Clare calls Imagining Torontoone of the best books I’ve read this year, blowing my mind with its gorgeous prose, fascinating facts, stunning narrative, and sheer readability– I was absolutely lost inside it” and adding,

Imagining Toronto is no catalogue, or dry academic treatise, but instead it is a story, and the story is a city (and the city is a story, but we could go on like this forever). Harris has not merely written a book about Toronto, but she has written the city itself, from the depths of its ravines to the tip of the CN Tower, 1815 feet up in the sky. Her raw materials are the city’s fictions, and the city is rendered by these poems and stories in glorious concreteness.

More reviews are forthcoming in the scholarly press, including a glowing review to appear in The Canadian Geographer. I’ll update once those are in print.

In awards news, Imagining Toronto was shortlisted for the 2010 Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism. The awards jury called the book “an evocative and compelling study of the imaginative rendering of Toronto in Canadian literature” and concluded, “[e]mphasizing the multiple ways in which Toronto has been represented, Imagining Toronto reveals a city whose meaning is under continual negotiation, and where the distribution of power has the potential to be disrupted and reconstituted daily.”

This fall you’ll be able to imagine Toronto at the following events:

You can pick up signed copies of Imagining Toronto at the Mansfield Press booth at Word on the Street Toronto this coming Sunday, September 25. In case you miss us at WOTS, you can always pick up a copy at any local bookstore or order it online through Mansfield PressAmazon or Chapters.

The Imagined City series returns for a second season thanks to the Toronto Public Library! Spring talk titles included  “City Limits: Changing Suburbs and the Literary ImaginationFrom Hip to Chic: Imagining Yorkville, 1960 to the Present,  The Imagined City: Navigating to the City at the Centre of the Map and  The Imagined City: A Literary Voyage into Toronto’s Ravines and Wild Places. I’m delighted to announce the new talks, which are free and open to the public at the following branches:

 Tuesday 27 September 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: From Streetcar Suburb to Multicultural Community: Riverdale in the Literary Imagination. Riverdale Branch, Toronto Public Library (370 Broadview Ave.)

Saturday 1 October 2011, 2:00-3:30 pm: The Masseys and the Masses: Social and Spatial Ascendency in Rosedale and Forest Hill. Forest Hill Branch (700 Eglinton Ave. W.)

Tuesday 18 October 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand Up?: Regent Park, St. Jamestown and Cabbagetown in the Literary Imagination. Parliament Branch (269 Gerrard St. E.)

My essay, “Imagining Fort York” (the latest installment of the Imagining Toronto column) will appear in the Fall 2011 issue of Spacing Magazine, available on newsstands and in subscribers’ mailboxes in a few weeks.

In October-November I’ll be guest geographer at a Toronto high school (details to be announced). If you would like me to visit your high school or university class (or event, organization or conference) to talk about cities, urban literature and cultural identity, please contact me at alharris [at] yorku [dot] ca to make arrangements.

Looking ahead to the winter, the Imagining Toronto course will again be offered through the Department of Geography at York University. Please note that the syllabus is from last year: a new version will be uploaded before the new term starts. If you would like to enrol in the course, you may do so through the University.

I’ve been invited to speak about Toronto literature at “Landscapes of Difference, Espaces de Difference, Raume der Differenz,” an international conference hosted by the Canadian Studies Association in German-speaking countries (GKS) to be held in Grainau, Germany in February 2012. Details forthcoming.

As always, you can follow me (@ImaginingTO) on Twitter or join the Imagining Toronto project’s Facebook page. I’ve also begun using Google+ (primarily to share spatial theory and literary links) and would love to encounter you there.

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