Who we are

TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) is a hub for intellectual collaboration and cross-disciplinary research projects, and is part of the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford. Our funding, training and networks develop research projects and careers and our engagement activity increases the social impact and understanding of humanities research amongst wider public audiences. 

On this page:  Impact stories   |   What we do  |   People  |   Annual Review

What we do

4 circles indicating key areas of TORCH work and overlaps between them

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TORCH is led by an academic Director: Professor Christine Gerrard 2023-2026 (Professor of English Literature). Previous Directors included Professor Wes Williams, 2020-2023 (Professor of French Literature), Professor Maria del Pilar Blanco (Academic Champion 2020-2023), Professor Philip Bullock (Professor of Russian Literature and Music), 2017-2020, Professor Elleke Boehmer (Professor of World Literature in English), 2015-2017, and the founding Director was Professor Stephen Tuck (Professor of History), 2012-2015. 

The Associate Head of Research and Innovation in the Humanities Division is Professor Abigail Williams (Professor of English Literature). 

TORCH is supported by an experienced administrative team, led by Sarah Clay (TORCH Operations Manager) and Dr Victoria McGuinness (Head of Public Engagement - Humanities).

For general enquiries and the Networks, Research Hubs, International and Communications and Public Engagement teams, please contact us on torch@humanities.ox.ac.uk 


For queries about Knowledge Exchange contact torch@humanities.ox.ac.uk 

For more information about the Cultural Programme, please contact culturalprogramme@humanities.ox.ac.uk


Photos of the members of the TORCH management committee, arranged in a grid

Chair: Professor Abigail Williams (Associate Head of Research, Humanities Division, and English Faculty)

Professor Christine Gerrard (TORCH Director, and English Faculty)

Professor Dan Grimley (Head of Humanities Division, and Music 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)

Professor Wes Williams (Former TORCH Director (2020-23) and MML Faculty) 

Professor María del Pilar Blanco (Former TORCH Academic Champion (2020-23) and MML Faculty)

Sarah Clay (TORCH Operations Manager) - servicing the committee

Dr Victoria McGuinness (Head of Public Engagement, Humanities Division and Head of TORCH) - in attendance 

Dr Michele Warren (Head of Research Support, Humanities Division) - in attendance

Dr Karen Houghton (Head of Impact, Humanities Division) - in attendence


The TORCH Management Committee reports into the Humanities Research Committee.