DescriptionSpeaker in the panel "Literary Studies after the Spatial Turn," chaired by Dr. Michael C. Frank.
Digging Toronto: Uncovering the City’s Urban Past through Literature
Historian John Tosh argues that “[a]ll societies look to their collective memories for consolation and inspiration” (4), and emphasizes that a shared interpretation of the events and experiences of the past is definitive for any social grouping. Despite having witnessed decades of scholarly neglect in literary urban studies, today Toronto shines in fiction and, 227 years after its creation, is rediscovering its material history.
My multidisciplinary analysis of Michael Redhill’s historical city novel Consolation (2006) combines traditional spatial theory with new locational criticism, looks for similarities between archaeological and literary research, and shows how Toronto myths connect to the imaginative and material qualities of the locale. Evoking the palimpsestic model of the city, the novel addresses Torontonians’ collective identity, recounts the city’s (his)story through multiple acts of digging, excavating and burying, and problematizes the role of official history. Urban theorist Amy Harris calls Toronto writers ‘archaeologists of memory,’ and writes that “by travelling downward” is how we make our way into the city within a city (38). My research agrees that in order to discuss the buried city, which literature and archaeology are particularly good at doing, we must turn our attention to the ground below.
|Period||2 Sept 2021|
|Event title||The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) 2021 Conference|
|Degree of Recognition||International|