Skip to main content

New director of Institute of Classical Studies appointed


Professor Katherine Harloe has been appointed director of the University of London’s Institute of Classical Studies (ICS).

Professor Katherine Harloe has been appointed director of the University of London’s Institute of Classical Studies (ICS), the national centre for research in the Classics at the School of Advanced Study, succeeding Professor Greg Woolf. She is currently professor of Classics and intellectual history at the University of Reading, and will take up the role in October 2021.

She said:

It’s an honour to head an institution which plays such a vital role in the national and international landscape of Classics research. Classics is a huge and fascinating subject, encompassing the language, literature, history, art, archaeology and thought of the ancient Mediterranean and neighbouring lands. It is also a connecting thread that runs through many other disciplines – informing the languages, literature, art, history and philosophy of other places and periods. 

It’s this vastness, variety and connection that first drew me to study Classics, and continues to inform my own research in the history of classical scholarship and the classical tradition. I take very seriously the ICS’s responsibility to foster and facilitate research across the entire range of classical studies, providing as one of the most prominent interfaces of UK Classics with the international research community and offering resources, training, and networking to classical researchers across the UK.

Professor Harloe’s route into Classics was unorthodox. Educated in a state school in Essex with no classical provision, in her sixth form she took Latin classes on weekend mornings with a retired teacher and sat it at GCSE alongside her A-Level subjects before reading Literae Humaniores at Magdalen College, Oxford. She then pursued graduate studies in modern intellectual history and philosophy before returning to Classics via postdoctoral research fellowships in Bristol and Oxford. She is the first black professor of Classics in the UK, and will be the first woman director of the ICS.

Professor Harloe’s principal research interest is the history of classical scholarship in the context of that of other humanities disciplines and broader political, cultural and intellectual currents, from the middle of the 18th century to the present.

She has an international reputation for her work on the 18th-century German classicist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, and is joint editor-in-chief of the International Journal of the Classical Tradition, as well as interdisciplinary research advisor to the Classics sub-panel of REF 2021.

Katherine Harloe

Professor Harloe’s previous research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

She is keen to continue the ICS strategies of interdisciplinary research and public engagement when she takes up the role, and will bring with her an AHRCl-funded project in association with Dr Amara Thornton and Dr James Baker (Southampton) and the Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL).

'Our project turns around investigating historical archives in order to recover and reconstruct the role of women and other subaltern actors in archaeology, historical and heritage work in the 19th and 20th centuries,' she explains.

'Archives offer a key to unlock the work of women and other non-elite historical actors, creating a fuller and more inclusive understanding of the past. This project will bring intellectual and social historians, information science and digital humanities specialists to conduct the first extensive study of the SAL’s important historical archive in order to recover the broad landscape of women's work in archaeology, history, and heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries and their intellectual and scholarly networks.'

Hellenic Society and Roman Society presidents Professor Paul Cartledge and Professor Tim Cornell expressed their delight on her appointment. 

Professor Cartledge said:

Katherine is already very well acquainted with the societies' projects and goals and especially their joint Hellenic and Roman Library and its digital ambitions, and she will be bringing a fresh, original perspective to the institute's management and outreach.

Dean and chief executive of the School of Advanced Study, Professor Jo Fox, said: 'I am absolutely thrilled that Katherine will be joining the School. She has an exciting and compelling vision for the institute, and will play a key role in advocating for the importance of the humanities more broadly. Katherine’s appointment comes at a critical time for the School, as we prepare to launch our new strategy and with important new projects in the pipeline.'


Notes for editors

The Institute of Classical Studies, founded in 1953, is a national and international research centre for the study of the languages, literature, history, art, archaeology and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. It provides an internationally renowned research library available to scholars from universities throughout the world, in association with the Hellenic and Roman Societies, and is the meeting place of the main Classics organisations in the UK. It is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Learn more at the School of Advance Study.
The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 996 research fellows and associates, held 1,500 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 31.6 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 100,119 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find more by following SAS on Twitter at @SASNews
The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. It consists of 17 independent member institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London.