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 Katharine Kavanagh

Katharine Kavanagh

Research student,


Katharine is a PhD student in the Centre for Language and Communication Research.

Her research takes a corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis approach to audience experience and public representations of circus, with a focus on evaluative texts. 

Academic Background

  • MA in Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University (2018-2019; Distinction)

  • BA in Theatre at Dartington College of Arts (2002-2005; First Class Honours)


Research interests

  • (Critical) Discourse Analysis

  • Corpus Linguistics

  • Evaluation

  • Arts Criticism

I also have an underlying interest in communication that bridges difference in value systems, particularly in education and public media.



Book review:


  • 'Opportunity in the Abyss: growing a critical culture of circus', at Platform Symposium: On Criticism, 23 Nov 2018, Central School of Speech and Drama, London

  • 'Overcoming Academic Otherness - experiments in integration', at Circus and Its Others II, 27-29 Aug 2018, Prague

  • 'Introduction to the Contemporary Circus: Studies and Spectacle ', at Festival of Creative Learning, 22 Feb 2018, University of Edinburgh (School of Art)

  • 'Circus and Criticism', at Theatre and Fandom, 7 July 2017, University of Bristol


  • Visiting Lecturer at Circomedia in Bristol, UK, teaching circus history, context and and criticality to BA & MA students (Oct 2018-)

  • Guest lecturer at the University of Dance and Circus (DOCH) in Stockholm, Sweden, teaching a weeklong workshop on circus performance and interpretation to 2nd year BA students (April 2018)

  • Lecturer at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London, UK, teaching a module on performance review and analysis to 2nd year BA students (Sept 2017-Feb 2018)


What's So Special About The Circus? Mediating the Divide Between Elite and Populist Values

My Doctoral research investigates audience experience and public representations of circus, with a focus on evaluative texts collected from audience members and public media sources. It identifies elements of circus attendance experience that are linguistically realised as valuable, using Martin & White's (2005) APPRAISAL framework and corpus linguistic analysis of key semantic domains (Rayson et al, 2004). The values expressed in reviews, publicity materials, and by audience members are compared to determine how the interests of audience members are represented in public evaluative texts. This will lead to recommendations for how the producers of such texts can better serve the circus arts and potential audience members, bridging the value difference between them in a more effective communicative form.

Funding source




Dr Amanda Potts

Senior Lecturer


Dr Virpi Ylänne

Senior Lecturer