Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Research interests

Carolyn Watt is a lecturer in Historical and Critical Studies for the BA (Hons) Fashion Business, BA (Hons) Textiles and Business and BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and Business. Carolyn is interested in the intersection between circus, performance, and identity. Her research interests include community arts-based practices, practice-based research, digital technologies, costume design and scenography, art for social change and gender and identity.

Supervisory Interests

Carolyn's supervisory interests include historical and contemporary work on circus, social circus and performance, practice-based research, costume design, community arts and social change, the body and identity and digital culture.

Scholarly biography

Carolyn holds a Master of Design in Textile Design and Business Studies from the University of Brighton where she specialised in knitwear and a practice-based PhD from the University of Portsmouth. Carolyn has a mixed background in research, teaching and cabaret/circus creative practice and continues to develop her creative practice outside of, and in connection to, her academic posts.

Carolyn has worked on a variety of arts based and large multidisciplinary research projects. Recently she was Research Fellow in International Activist Art Practice in the School of Art and Media at the University of Brighton, working on the AHRC funded project ‘Guernica Remakings: South Africa’ which explores art activism and the role of art in sustainable community development in collaboration with Kids’ Guernica (a community peace painting project). The aim to immerse participants in collaborative art practices. This project, led by Dr Nicola Ashmore, was funded as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Follow on Funding Impact and Engagement Scheme: Highlight Notice for the UN International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development (2021-2023).

Carolyn’s practice-based PhD research (awarded 2020), part-funded by the EU Interreg 5A France (Channel) England 'Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN’ (PONToon) project (University of Portsmouth), explored a group of 18–35-year-old women’s experiences of learning aerial circus skills integrated with training in digital media within a social circus context. Within social circus initiatives the emphasis is not on the development of technical performance skills, but on the process and participation itself and draws similarities to community-based arts initiatives. Carolyn’s thesis and accompanying practice research event, a performance seminar, vocal aerial silks performance and multi-media installation, explored gender, identity, and self-perception through the lens of social aerial circus. This research drew on a range of disciplines including performance studies, circus studies, gender theory, feminism, and digital culture.

Previously Carolyn taught across the Visual Culture programme in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth (2019 – 2022). Visual Culture underpins the undergraduate design courses including Fashion and Textiles, Photography, Illustration, Graphic Design. This module focusses on the development of independent critical thinking, visual analysis skills, theoretical and contextual learning. Carolyn has guest lectured at Italia Conti on the topic of practice-based research and teaches recreational aerial circus, flexibility, and contortion skills, she is teaching at the European Aerial Dance Festival summer 2024. Carolyn continues to develop her cabaret and circus practice and performs locally and across the UK, she is interested in developing her work on social circus and costume design and is part of the Aerial Scenography Research Network.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Social Aerial Circus: Female Experience, Self-perception and Self-representation , University of Portsmouth

1 Nov 201627 Mar 2020

Award Date: 3 Apr 2020

Master, Master of Design Textiles with Business Studies, University of Brighton

Sept 2008Jun 2012

Award Date: 2 Jul 2012


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