In 2019-2020, I helped initiate and fund structural upgrades to a large gym space on campus to create the Circus Lab – an on-campus hub for interdisciplinary research and educational projects involving the circus arts. It includes 6 aerial dropline points ready for use with various aerial apparatuses – silks, trapeze, lyra, rope, etc. – as well as an array of mats, juggling props, and other circus equipment.
Currently, the Circus Lab hosts my course PHI 193: Circus and Philosophy, the University of Kentucky student-run club, Circus Cats, and community outreach events such as the Big Blue Big Top: Circus Workshop with the Gaines Center for Humanities (video below).
PHI 193: Circus and Philosophy
How is juggling like being a good person? What can the trapeze tell us about truth? What does circus have to do with the self? My course PHI 193: Circus and Philosophy combines physical movement, performance, and the circus arts with philosophical study. Intended for those new to both circus and philosophy, this course uses circus as a springboard for philosophical inquiry.
This innovative course is FULLY participatory. Students don’t just learn about the circus, they learn how to circus. Students learn specific circus skills, such as aerial arts, juggling, or acro-balancing, while investigating various philosophical topics in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and more.
Don’t know how to juggle? Don’t know who Aristotle is or what he said? No worries. No background in either circus arts or philosophy is required. A sense of wonder, a healthy curiosity about the world, and an appetite for adventure are strongly encouraged. (Go here to learn more.)
***PHI 193: Circus and Philosophy will next run Spring 2024.***
Circus Cats – Circus Club
Founded in December 2021, Circus Cats is the student-run circus club at the University of Kentucky – a community that learns and shares knowledge about the circus and circus arts, often through first hand experience and practice of circus skills such as juggling, acro-balancing, and aerial arts.
Meetings are every Friday 3:30-5:00pm in the circus lab (Barker 104). All students, faculty and staff are welcome – all that’s needed is a UK linkblue ID. No experience necessary!
Here is some recent media coverage of events in the circus lab: