Master Classes and Workshop

Fiction Master Class 1: Interspecies Telepathy

Literature, more than any other artistic form, promises something close to telepathy: when we read we are, for a time, immersed intimately in another person’s thoughts. And fiction, in particular, can place us imaginatively in the minds of people from the long-ago past, from the future, or from unfamiliar cultures; or in the minds of people who belong to different genders or classes or ethnicities from our own. It can even place us in the minds of non-human beings. This class will concentrate on identifying some of the most effective literary techniques – especially, but not only, point of view and mind style – that writers can use to evoke the experience of animals in narrative fiction.

Photojournalism Master Class 2:   The Art, the Trials and the Lessons in Animal Rights Photojournalism

When Jo-Anne McArthur started shifting her focus towards animal rights photojournalism fifteen years ago, few professional photographers were documenting ‘The Invisible Animals’, as McArthur calls them. Those we eat, wear, conduct research on and use for entertainment. Fewer still were examining the constructs of factory farming, fur farming, laboratories and the like. During this time, much has changed and more photographers are now bringing these stories to light. In this Masterclass, McArthur frames animal rights photojournalism in a historical context, discusses the shoots that have taken her to over fifty countries around the globe, the trials she has faced, the lessons learned in terms of storytelling and outreach, and outlines some ways forward when it comes to animal rights photojournalism.

Poetry Master Class 3:   Embodying the Animal: language, liminality, grace

Following on after Elizabeth Costello’s notion (in JM Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals) on ‘bodying forth’ the jaguar in Ted Hughes’ poem, we will consider how other contemporary poets figure animal embodiment. While some writing will be facilitated in the session, participants are invited to bring a short poem they have written which imagines and dramatises such embodiment.

Academic Writing Master Class 4: Are the tigers of wrath really wiser than the horses of instruction?

This master class explores how to negotiate the complex world of scholarly publishing and shares key tips on how to manage your academic writing time for maximum productivity, while staying sane and happy. Obstacles to writing are discussed – including limited time, procrastination, and the “impostor syndrome”. The various academic publishing opportunities for the “horses of instruction” (or “academic animal writing”) are described. This class also explains how to transform your horses into tigers: how to target your academic research to reach an even wider audience – including the public, the media, and industry – and explains how to engage time-poor readers. The master class is intended to encourage and empower, and inspire you towards the “write stuff”.

Workshop: Imaging Cow Being

This workshop will be led by Terry Hurtado. Academic study of animal behaviour is mostly conceptual: the mind moves closer to the reality of the other in a conceptual way, from the outside, through human eyes. To avoid anthropomorphism, imagination is discouraged, and is thus unexplored as a tool. Yet imagination, grounded in careful detailed observation of the animal’s body, movement and behaviour, can open a window of possibility for a complementary way of understanding an animal ́s experience. We propose here to attempt, recruiting the aid of the imagination, a movement into the corporeal reality of a cow from the inside, through her eyes - opening another pathway to interspecies empathy. Empathy is key to human moral action, yet it can be difficult to empathise with the condition of those whose realities we cannot relate to in a bodily, concrete way. In a workshop format, we guide participants into a 35 minute visualisation experience where we use sensorial imagination to imagine becoming and being a cow. The visualisation was developed by anchoring our imagination in detailed sense perception of a cow’s body, interactions and environment, and mimicking some of her actions, then freeing the imagination to move our corporeal experience closer to thatoftheanimal. Thisisanexperimentalwayofimaginativeenquiry,whichwehavetrialledatthePostgraduateSociety Conference at Plymouth University, with the student body at Schumacher College, and Prescott College; at the International Animal Rights Conference 2015, and the anthrozoology conference at Exeter University, and which we continue developing through participant feedback. The workshop was also accepted to the Making Sense of the Animal Human Bond, ID-Net conference, and has taken place in a broader community in the Robson Cultural centre in The Netherlands and cultural centres in Colombia.

Share with