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.

Imagining Toronto the Wild at the Toronto Botanical Garden

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)


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