The Circus Lab

The Circus Lab - University of Kentucky - photo by Mothwing Photography
The Circus Lab – University of Kentucky – Mothwing Photography

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.

Here’s a nice feature on KET’s Kentucky Life (2023) for more about circus and philosophy.

PHI 193: Circus and Philosophy

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.

Acro-balancing – Fall 2017

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? 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.

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 is typically offered every spring semester.

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!

Check here for latest updates. Go here for their IG page.

Links to recent press: