Vulgar Errors/Feral Subjects Masterclass

Vulgar Errors/Feral Subjects Masterclass

Take a walk on the wild side, as we explore animality and otherness, through the medieval Bestiary's pantheon of fabulous animal others.

‘Here is a list of incorrect things…’ – The Fall 

The title of this series is a riff on Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths, also known simply as Vulgar Errors (1646). In this work, Browne seeks to challenge and refute the ‘vulgar’ or common errors and superstitions of his age, including those relating to the fabulous hybrids and animal amalgams found within bestiary texts.  

This course will explore themes of animality and otherness through the lens of the medieval Bestiary. We will look critically and creatively at bestiary texts and the ways in which they turn animal bodies into allegories for non-normative subjects, classifying them as perverse, sinful, or ‘unnatural’. Yet, we will also look at how these fantastic beasts and fabulous hybrids might also teach us the joy of otherness and offer a way of resisting and transgressing such negative labels. 

Over the course of twelve weeks, we will critically explore the idea of the feral or “beastly” in its various guises, with a particular focus on writing towards/ through the Bestiary‘s pantheon of fabulous animal others. The sessions are intended to provoke strange and ambitious new writing. Readings will include both poetry – from John Gower to Rebecca Tamás; Edmund Spenser to Franny Choi – and selected critical texts touching on trash-feminist practice, queer failure, and low theory.

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International Courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12-week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image credit: dontaskai

About Dr Fran Lock View Profile

Fran Lock is the author of numerous chapbooks and eleven poetry collections, most recently White/ Other (87 Press, 2022), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Fran is the out-going Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellow at Cambridge University (2022-23), researching feral subjectivity through the lens of the medieval Bestiary. A collection of essays relating to dirty animality, queer failure, and trash-feminist practice, Vulgar Errors/ Feral Subjects, will be published by Out-Spoken Press later this year. A collection of poems inspired by the Cambridge University Library and Parker Library bestiaries, The Dire Hyena’s Knot, is forthcoming from the 87 Press. Fran’s other work includes the chapbook Forever Alive (Dare-Gale Press, 2022), and the critically acclaimed work of “queer mourning” Hyena! Jackal! Dog! (Pamenar Press, 2021). A second collection with Pamenar, a disgusting lie’ (further adventures through the neoliberal hell mouth) is due later this year. Fran is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters, where she most recently edited the mammoth anthology The Cry of the Poor (2021). She is a member of the new Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, and she edits the Soul Food column for Communist Review. She is the co-host of the cross-cultural poetry podcast Social yet Distanced with Jack Varnell, and is a proud Pitbull parent.

'The Poetry School has helped me to find a way of going deeper into the poem-writing process, I have learnt how to read other poets' poems and have gained more knowledge about how to give feedback and receive it. The feedback I was given by the tutor was very useful and helped me become a critic of my own work.'

- Spring 2023 survey response

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