Kirsten Adkins

PhD, The Incredible Disappearing Soldier and Other Adventures in British Military Recruitment, Institution University of Wolverhampton, 2022

Current role: Lecturer in Film Production at University of Gloucestershire


I completed my practice-led PhD in January 2022, where I combined performance-based installation, experimental film-making and academic writing to explore themes relating to gender, militarism and the mediation of 21st Century war.

The project focused on the ethical and political implications associated with a visual blurring of the gendered subject in the mediated framing of state-controlled violence and used a deconstructed filmmaking practice combined with critical approaches, including gender studies and film theory. 

The experience of researching by practice at Wolverhampton was both challenging and hugely rewarding. In my studio practice, explorations led in unknown and uncertain directions. Combining this uncertainty with the clear projected goals required of a research project sometimes felt contradictory. Practice as research is known for its complexities and the early stages were in many ways a balancing act between two seemingly different methodologies. But over time, both writing and making became intertwined and started to produce original research that offered endless possibilities. An ongoing and fascinating dialogue with academics at the university supported me in producing a project that combines film, art practice and critical theory to explore current socio-political concerns.

I wanted to use film and visual image making as a way of opening up questions, challenges and areas for debate and social change, and this has become an important methodological approach for me as a post-doctoral researcher. For me, art practice becomes a tool for analysis, analysis consequently informs practice. I am fascinated by ways that investigation through image-making opens up new and complex ideas. In this regard my supervision was highly focussed.  Yet at the same time it was broad ranging, offering insights in both academic and film practice, but also pointing me towards poetry, literature and music as inspiration. The university also supported me in publishing academic papers, screening works in the UK, Europe and in China, and gaining academic lecturing work, during the three years of my PhD. These opportunities have consequently led to a full-time academic post.

In the final stages of my PhD I gained an academic teaching and research job in film production at the University of Gloucestershire where I currently work. In this role I continue to teach and to research through practice. My enthusiastic and highly creative students are encouraged to  think through the process of making, and to make films thoughtfully. Drawing on my own supervision experience at Wolverhampton, I direct students towards current topical issues, but also to art, experimental film, poetry and music as a way of informing, challenging and developing their filmmaking practice.