The project Zirkus | Wissenschaft seeks to anchor circus—a relevant object of research for cultural studies—in university research and coursework. It also encourages and initiates research projects on this genre, as well as the production of bachelor, master, and doctoral theses from students and scholars alike in Germany.
The project explicitly aims to establish the WWU as a long-term international meeting place for circensic researchers from Germany and abroad as well as to set up an international scholarly network.
Zirkus | Wissenschaft is intended to raise the public’s awareness of the significance of the circus as a cultural good.
Founded in 2015 at the University of Münster, Circus | Studies has established itself within a very short time as an international meeting place for circus research. It was awarded a prestigious grant by the University (it achieved the status of a Leuchtturmprojekt) and received a great deal of national and international attention by scholars and the media alike. Significant milestones include the international conferences Semiotics of the Circus (2015) and UpSideDown - Circus and Space (2017), the development of the DBIS-listed academic online database www.circusartsresearchplatform. com in cooperation with international circus documentation centres, the establishment of a circus-specific department in the library of the Institute of German Studies and a collaborative project between artists and students, entitled Reading Circus. Dramaturgy on the Border Between Art and Academia (2019).
The project is characterized by the following features:
Circus | Studies strives for a differentiated view of the circus. Starting from various academic disciplines - e.g. theatre and dance studies, semiotics, sociology, historical research, medicine, cultural studies - different aspects of the circus are analysed and set in their respective context.
In view of the international nature of the circus, precise circus research can only be international: circus studies as an independently institutionalised discipline does not exist worldwide. However, especially in France, Canada and Sweden, the scientific discussion of the circus has become established in university research and teaching. For this reason, Circus | Studies is in a close professional exchange with researchers at these international universities.
Connection of research and practice
The actuality of the object of investigation requires a continuous exchange between research and practice. This is made possible within the framework of the project through cooperation with various companies and circus performers such as collaborative projects.