Wadham Fellow lights up TORCH

18th October 2017


Wadham Fellow and Tutor in Russian, Philip Ross Bullock, has been appointed as the new Director of TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).

  • Philip Bullock

Launched in May 2013, TORCH stimulates, supports and promotes interdisciplinary research activity of the highest quality and engages with wide audiences.  Here, Philip talks about TORCH’s vital work in Oxford and beyond.

“I’m thrilled to be taking up the position of Director of and am already enjoying getting stuck into the many things it supports. In fact, my association with TORCH goes back a while, as I’ve been co-convenor of the Oxford Song Network, supported by TORCH, since 2015, and I feel well-attuned to its values.

“Above all, TORCH is a natural home for scholars like me, who range across a number of disciplinary boundaries. As Fellow in Russian at Wadham, I teach an undergraduate curriculum that is largely literary in focus, but I’m more restless when it comes to my research, and as well as working on Russian literature and music, I have been tempted into film and visual culture, comparative literature and reception studies, and even into the study of other languages and cultures.

“Through its networks, programmes and headline themes, TORCH seeks to promote approaches to the study of the humanities that transcend conventional academic categories, as well as promoting further dialogue between the humanities and other fields of intellectual inquiry. Another aspect of TORCH’s work that attracts me is its involvement in public engagement, which I’ve never seen as something distinct from my academic writing. Through creative partnerships with arts organisations and cultural bodies, and through accessible and intelligent public talks and discussions, it not only takes academics out into the wider community, but also teaches us how much we have to learn from working with new audiences.

“It’s also going to be a great opportunity to get involved with the University’s projects around diversity and equality; TORCH has run a very successful set of events interrogating the theme of ‘Humanities and Identities’ that seek to uncover the richness of individuals’ lived experiences, and that’s a message that resonates very obviously with Wadham’s own progressive identity.

“Finally, TORCH is home to a very impressive community of early career researchers, who are not just the scholars of the future, but who are already shaping their disciplines in new and innovative ways.

“I’m honoured to be following in the steps of Stephen Tuck and Elleke Boehmer, who have come from the faculties of History and English respectively. It seems somehow appropriate that it should be the turn of a Modern Linguist to be asked to direct TORCH, not least as Oxford considers how best to support and nurture international collaborations and the global reach of learning. But I won’t be lost to Wadham entirely during my tenure of the role, and I will continue to supervise the tuition of the college’s Russian undergraduates.”