A Day in the Underworld: Subterranean Realms, the Classical World, & Beyond

A Day in the Underworld: Subterranean Realms, the Classical World, & Beyond

Descend to subterranean realms and spend the day in the underworld.

* This course will take place on the video-conferencing platform ZOOM * 

On this one-day course we will start by the exploring the Classical World, the Underworld as depicted in the ancient texts of Homer & Virgil, looking at the underworld’s appearance in their most modern translations. We’ll then look at Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes’ play, The Frogs, written in 405BCE about Dionysus’s journeys to the underworld. Moving to the late middle-ages, we’ll enter Dante’s Inferno, before taking inspiration for our writing from Rilke’s, Sonnets to Orpheus, written in German in 1922. 

Staying strictly underground, we’ll switch to images, spending some of the day working ekphrastically with Stephen Ellcock’s book Underworlds: A compelling journey through subterranean reams, real and imagined. Responding to paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Jan Brueghel & Tsukioka Yoshitoshi as well as photographs of cave complexes labyrinths and grottoes around the world throughout history, we’ll imagine dialogues and events that did and could occur in these most fascinating and intriguing of places. 

Finally, on our journey, we will turn to more contemporary collections, such as Srikanth Reddy’s ‘simultaneously funny and frightful’ Underworld Lit, a ‘multiverse quest through various cultures’ realms of the dead’;  Philip Terry’s version of Dante, in which the guiding figure of Virgil takes on new form as the poet Ted Berrigan, a visiting lecturer at the University of Essex; on and poems by poet and classicists Anne Carson and Alice Oswald, as well as work featured in Magma Magazine’s recent ‘Underworld’ issue. 

This course is 6-hour blend of lecture, seminar and workshop. Attendees will emerge from their day in the underworld with multiple new poems of their own. 

1 full day Zoom session, running 10.30am–4.30pm (GMT), on 2 Nov 2024. This course will take place on the video-conferencing platform ZOOM. 

To apply for a concession rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. More information about how our Video Courses work can be found on the Video Courses page. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. 

Image credit: @janbaborak

About Vik Shirley View Profile

Vik Shirley is the author of Notes from the Underworld, illustrated by Joshua Rothes, published by Sublunary Editions. She is a poet, writer, educator and critic. Her other publications include Corpses (Sublunary Editions), Grotesques for the Apocalypse (Beir Bua), and Poets (The Red Ceilings). Her two photo-poetry collections, Strangers Wave and Disrupted Blue and other Poems on Polaroid were published by zimZalla and Hesterglock and her first full-length collection, The Continued Closure of the Blue Door, by HVTN Press. She has a PhD in Dark Humour and the Surreal in Poetry from the University of Birmingham. Her chapbook, Some Deer, is forthcoming with Broken Sleep Books. 

"Every course I have taken has made me improve in my writing."

- Spring 2024 Survey Response

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