Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Costuming and fashion on and beyond the screen.
Gender, clothing and identities in popular visual culture.
Star-celebrity culture.
Ageing stars.
Material and visual cultures.

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Personal profile


Dr Sarah Gilligan is Assistant Professor in Fashion Communication in the School of Design. Her research and publications centre on clothing and identities on and beyond the screen - particularly the distinct, yet symbiotic relationships between costuming identities, fashion, and star-celebrity culture in contemporary visual culture.

Sarah began working at Northumbria in 2020 as a Senior Lecturer, following a career in further and adult education where she taught Design for the Creative Industries, Art & Design, Photography, Media, and Film Studies.

Sarah has published a wide range of peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters tied to her research, and has also guest edited special issues of Clothing Cultures (6.1), Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture (5.2-3), and Critical Studies in Men's Fashion (7.1-2). Sarah’s research has appeared in journals such as Fashion Theory, Film, Fashion and Consumption, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, Journal of Bodies, Sexualities and Masculinities and the Journal of Asia Pacific Popular Culture, as well as in the following books: Surface Tensions: Surface, Fashion in Fiction, Illuminating Torchwood, Women on Screen, Cinema, Identities and Beyond, James Bond in World and Popular Culture, Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis. Additionally, Sarah is also the author of the BFI book Teaching Women and Film.  

Her recent sole and co-authored articles include:

Sarah's current sole and co-authored research focuses on the fashioning of ageing star-celebrities in film and fashion media. Forthcoming papers and publications include work critically examining costume, fashion, gender, and performance in the cross-media representations of Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, and Javier Bardem. 

Additionally, Textual Transformations is an ongoing experimental strand of Gilligan’s research on tactile transmediality in which modified books are used to bridge the material distance between media representations, clothing, cultural artefacts, and the emotions of lived experiences. Together with her visual essay published in Lighthouse (27), her creative work-in-progress was recently exhibited in an installation at Gallery North, as part of the What are Words Worth group show (2024). 

Sarah is a member of the editorial team for Film, Fashion and Consumption journal and is on the editorial boards of Fashion, Style and Popular CultureCritical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, and the International Journal of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles.  She is a member of the Critical Costume steering group and a member of the European Popular Culture Association. Sarah is regularly asked to peer review articles and book proposals for leading journals, and academic publishers.

As the chair and co-founder (with Dr Petra Krpan, Zagreb) of the Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures (FCVC) Network, Sarah received the prestigious British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award. She has co-organised international conferences in Croatia (FCVC2018) and France (FCVC2019) together with in-person and online events, and mentoring for researchers in the UK and internationally. Sarah has presented her research and chaired panels at universities across the UK and internationally, and has delivered keynote papers and invited talks and workshops at conferences, pedagogical, and public engagement events.

Sarah is principal and co-supervisor for PhDs, and welcomes inquiries from prospective researchers, collaborators, and non-academic stakeholders on topics connected to her research interests. Sarah is highly committed to widening participation in education, and her teaching and project supervision experience at Northumbria spans BA, MA, MRes and PhD levels. She also mentors staff at and beyond Northumbria who are at different stages of their research and teaching careers. In 2021, Sarah became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), and she holds BA and MA qualifications in Media, Film and Cultural Studies, a Cert Ed, together with a PhD in Media Arts from Royal Holloway, University of London. Sarah's thesis Transforming Identity: Gender, Costume & Contemporary Popular Cinema (supervised by Prof. Stella Bruzzi), was funded by a Thomas Holloway scholarship, and passed with no corrections. 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, PhD in Media Arts. Transforming Identity: Gender, Costume and Contemporary Popular Cinema. , Royal Holloway University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2010

MA, MA (with Distinction) in Film and Cultural Studies.

PGCert, Cultural and Textual Studies.

CertEd, Certificate in Education (FE).

BA (Hons), Media Studies (2.1).


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