What is TORCH?

Research Community | Connections | Collaborations 

TORCH is a nucleus of intellectual energy for the humanities and a place to develop new ideas and collaborations both within and beyond academia.

Since its creation, TORCH has raised over £3 million in grants and philanthropy to support researchers to develop research projects. Launched in May 2013, TORCH provides an important opportunity for Oxford’s humanities scholars to collaborate with researchers across other disciplines, and institutions; work with academics across all stages of their academic careers; develop partnerships with public and private institutions; engage with wider audiences; and bring together academic research, diverse industries, and the performing arts. Public engagement with research is at the heart of TORCH's aims. 

TORCH is led by an academic Director: Professor Wes Williams (Professor of French Literature), 2020-2023.
The previous TORCH Directors were Professor Philip Bullock (Professor of Russian Literature and Music) 2017-2020; Professor Elleke Boehmer (Professor of World Literature in English) 2015-2017; and Professor Stephen Tuck (Professor of Modern History) 2013-2015. 

Other strategic areas of TORCH include academic leaderships: the Knowledge Exchange Champion (previously held by Professor Wes Williams (2018-2020), Professor Kirsten Shepherd Barr (2016-2018) and Professor Abigail Williams (2014-2016) and we welcomed Dr Maria del Pilar Blanco (Associate Professor in Spanish American Literature) in 2020 as the inaugural Academic Champion. 

TORCH is supported by an administrative team, led and overseen by Dr Victoria McGuinness (Head of Cultural Programming and Partnerships).

  TORCH supports the following strategic areas: 
  -  Networks and Programmes 
  -  International Engagement
  -  Knowledge Exchange
  -  Humanities Cultural Programme

During 2018-19, TORCH hosted almost 400 events, with audiences of over 20,000 people. During 2019-20, TORCH hosted online events during COVID-restrictions, reaching audiences in person and then online of over 50,000 globally. Since 2013, TORCH has supported 400 researchers each year; 62 Knowledge Exchange Fellowships; over 50 seed-funded research networks and 10 research programmes. 

The TORCH Director, Professor Wes Williams (wes.williams@seh.ox.ac.uk), welcomes questions about the centre and suggestions for research and wider engagement activities. 

Where to find us



TORCH  | The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities

Woodstock Rd





01865 280 101



TORCH Director: Professor Wes Williams (Professor of French Literature, MML)

Knowledge Exchange, Impact and Innovation Director - Professor Abigail Williams (Professor of English Literature, English)

Academic Champion: Dr Maria del Pilar Blanco (Associate Professor of Spanish American Literature, MML)


TORCH Management Committee


Chair: Professor Dan Grimley (Associate Head of Humanities Division - Research and Music Faculty)

Professor Wes Williams (TORCH Director and MML Faculty)

Dr María del Pilar Blanco (TORCH Academic Champion Networks and Partnerships and MML Faculty)

Professor Abigail Williams (TORCH Knowledge Exchange, Impact and Innovation Director and English Faculty)

Dr Priya Atwal (History)

Professor Santanu Das (English)

Professor Jas Elsner (Classics)

Dr Rachel Fraser (Philosophy)

Professor Sondra Hausner (Theology and Religion)

Professor Polly Jones (MML)

Professor Gascia Ouzounian (Music)

Dr Sian Pooley (History)

Professor Tian Yuan Tan (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)

Dr Victoria McGuinness (Head of Cultural Programming and Partnerships)

The TORCH Management Committee reports into the Humanities Research Committee. 


TORCH sends out a fortnightly newsletter during term time with details of funding opportunities, research activities, events and multimedia. 

Please click here to subscribe to the TORCH newsletter, you can unsubscribe at any time.


Based at the Radcliffe Humanities building in Oxford, TORCH is home to a small team, dedicated to supporting the research community.
TORCH hosts a number of early career fellows, visiting international fellows and project staff, and supports the work of the Knowledge Exchange programme, and is at the hub of a wide network of scholars who lead the centre's research activities. 

For general enquiries and the Networks and Programmes and International teams, please contact us on torch@humanities.ox.ac.uk 
- Knowledge Exchange on kesupport@humanities.ox.ac.uk 
- Humanities Cultural Programme Team on hcp@torch.ox.ac.uk