Reading Glamour in Phyllis Brett Young’s The Torontonians

  • Kathryn Franklin York University


This article explores the relationships between fashion, glamour, celebrity, and Canadian literature, focusing specifically on Toronto, Canada. I argue for the value of “reading glamour” into Toronto’s literature by examining how glamour provides a socio-cultural insight into character and plot development and, moreover, elevates the character of the city itself. No doubt certain authors conjure up a glamorous cachet with their coterie of bohemian intellectual and literary salons but the writing itself rarely approaches the same level of glamorous celebration. However, reading glamour—that is, following Brown, tracing the language and grammar of glamour as a literary form linked to modern mass culture—extends the potential for literary and cultural expression of the text. As Gundle and Castelli argue, glamour is typically associated with the urban and cosmopolitan, and this paper explores how Toronto has historically engaged with its own sense of burgeoning celebrity, fashion, and glamour. By focusing on the work of Phyllis Brett Young’ s The Torontonians(1960), I examine how glamour as a corollary to fashion challenges preconceptions of “Toronto the Good,” not only within the local urban imaginary but also on national and global levels.

Author Biography

Kathryn Franklin, York University

Kathryn Franklin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Humanities at York University and works as an Instructor at the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus. Her research explores how the language of glamour permeates the narratives of various cities, with a specific focus on Toronto. Her work has been featured in TranscUlturAl (2016), International Journal of Fashion Studies (2016), The Journal of Curatorial Studies(2013), and World Film Locations: Berlin (2012). She also served as a co-editor at Descant Magazineand guest-edited its 2014 special issue on Berlin. She is the 2018-19 Christopher Isherwood Fellow at the Christopher Isherwood Foundation.

How to Cite
FranklinK. (2018). Reading Glamour in Phyllis Brett Young’s The Torontonians. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 9(2), 25-39.