A Year in Review

Large firework against black sky

We started this year in a very different place to where we’ve ended it (quite literally – much of this year has been spent working from our homes).

As an organisation that holds hundreds of events a year, the idea of moving online was initially daunting. But we embraced the challenge of online working and event-making, leading the way with our Big Tent! Live Event series and providing support to colleagues across the university.

This year we’ve reached more people than ever before, garnering over 110,000 YouTube views and 2,900 new subscribers from over 44 countries in events that created conversations between researchers and the public from all over the world.

As we begin to look ahead and decide what we can take forward, we wanted to first look back on our highlights from this year:

Innovation from the Humanities Cultural Programme

Unable to host the physical big tent we had planned, we took our programme of interdisciplinary research-fuelled live events online, creating an even bigger virtual tent, with our fortnightly conversations, performances and lectures averaging in the thousands of views. Speakers included Ben Whishaw, Katie Mitchell, Maaza Mengiste, Fiona Shaw, Prof Homi Bhabha, Johny Pitts and many more. HCP also awarded nineteen projects and three Visiting Fellowships in 2020, supporting academics, students, and community organisations in devising work fuelled by humanities research.

  • Discovering Delius, a Big Tent! Live Event, was a particular highlight, a rare live performance streamed to our YouTube. Better still, the Villiers Quartet performed a world premiere of the previously lost final movements of nineteenth century composer Frederick Delius' first string quartet.
  • TIDE Salon, an ERC and HCP-funded project, recreates the experience of an early European or Mughal salon online in a collaboration between award-winning artists and the university’s researchers. The project weaves together sound, visuals, and research to create a unique and absorbing interactive collaboration on Travel, Transculturality, and Identity in England, 1550 – 1700.

Looking ahead with Networks and Programmes

Our interdisciplinary research networks and programmes have continued to hold diverse academic events including seminars, workshops and conferences with technical support from the TORCH team, and many have used the difficulty of not being able to share space to inspire innovative new projects.

Forging connections with our new Knowledge Exchange Fellows

Knowledge Exchange is the mutually beneficial sharing of ideas, data, experience or expertise and our Knowledge Exchange Fellowships give academics the opportunity to work with external partners in a reciprocal relationship. TORCH has now supported 62 HEIF-funded Knowledge Exchange Fellows since 2013.

Thinking internationally with a new Global South Visiting Fellow

The All Souls College-supported scheme hosts academic visitors from the Global South to spend a fully funded term in Oxford, devising and executing a series of events. This year we are delighted to welcome our 2021-2 Visiting Fellow, Dr Obari Gomba.

Adapting with resilience in theatre collaborations

In a desperately challenging year for the cultural sector, we were amazed by the resilience and determination shown by our creative collaborators. We listened, we witnessed, and we responded:


This year has led us to think deeply about how we can best support the communities that we are a part of and find new and creative ways of engaging with the digital world - knowledge we will carry with us into our future work supporting the incredible community of researchers, thinkers, actors, and creators that we are privileged to work alongside.

TORCH would like to thank all those who have worked with us this year to provide engaging and far-ranging humanities-driven content, in spite of the circumstances.