Torontos: representations of Toronto in contemporary Canadian literature

Smith, William Leon (2012) Torontos: representations of Toronto in contemporary Canadian literature. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines how representations of Toronto in contemporary Canadian literature engage with place and further an understanding of spatial innovation in literature. Acknowledging the Canadian critical tradition of discussing place and space, the thesis moves the focus away from conventional engagements with wilderness motifs and small town narratives. In this way the thesis can be seen to respond to the nascent critical movement that urges engagement with contemporary urban spaces in Canadian literature. Responding to the critical neglect of urban representation, and more particularly, representations of Toronto in Canadian literary criticism, this thesis examines Toronto as a complex and contradictory site of symbolic power across critical, political and popular discourses. Furthermore, this thesis repositions an understanding of Toronto by paying attention to literary texts which depict the city's negotiation of national, local and global forces. The thesis seeks to understand the multiplicity of the city in lived, perceived and conceived forms - seeing Toronto as Torontos.

Questioning existing frameworks deployed in Canadian literary criticism, the thesis develops a unique methodology with which to approach the complex issues involved in literary writing about place, drawing on contemporary Canadian criticism and transnational approaches to critical literary geography. The central chapters focus on four texts from the twenty-first century, three novels and one collection of poetry, approaching each text with a critically informed spatial lens in order to draw out how engagements with Toronto develop spatial innovation within literature. The thesis analyses how engaging with Toronto challenges writers to experiment with literary form. In turn the thesis seeks to elucidate the spatial developments achieved through literary writing. The thesis then demonstrates an understanding of the material geography of the city, situating readings with reference to interview material from parties involved in writing, producing and distributing literary depictions of Toronto. Hence it combines traditional literary criticism with a spatially and socially engaged criticism, in order to clearly address the literary geographies of Torontos.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Billingham, S.E.
Roberts, G.
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 14507
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2014 08:28
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 13:48

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