Professor Tom Villis

Director (People)

Professional Biography

Tom Villis is Director of People and head of the PhD programme at Regent’s University London. He teaches courses on modern history and politics.

Tom has published widely on literature, religion and cultural politics. He is presently working on the cultural theories of David Jones and representations of Islam in modern British literature.


  • PhD in history (St. John's College, University of Cambridge, 2004)
  • MPhil in European Studies (St. John's College, University of Cambridge, 2000)
  • MA in history, first class (University of Edinburgh, 1998)

Relevant Past Employment

  • Lecturer and supervisor, faculty of history, University of Cambridge 2004-2008
  • Associate Lecturer, Open University 2004


Over the past five years, Tom has designed and taught modules on British history and politics, European history, international history and historical methodologies. 

Course development

Tom led the design of the International History major in the BA (Hons) Liberal Studies and contributed to the BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics. 




  • Villis, T (2013). British Catholics and Fascism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Villis, T (2006). Reaction and the Avant-Garde: The revolt against liberal democracy in early twentieth century Britain. London: I.B. Tauris.

Journal articles

  • Villis, T. (2019) ‘G. K. Chesterton and Islam’, Modern Intellectual History, 1-23.
  • Villis, T, (2018) ‘When was the “Break”? David Jones and Catholic ideas of rupture in British history’, Religion and Literature 49, pp. 9-18.
  • T. Villis and M. Hebing (2014) ‘Islam and Englishness: Issues of Culture and identity in the Debates over Mosque Building in Cambridge’, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 20, 4 415-437.
  •  Villis, T (2006). ‘The radical soul of liberalism', Journal of Liberal History, 52, pp.46-48.
  • Villis, T (2005). ‘Elitism and the revolt of the masses: reactions to the “great labour unrest” of 1910-14 in the New Age and New Witness circles.' History of European Ideas, 31, pp. 85-102.
  • Villis, T (2003). ‘Early modernism and exclusion: the cultural politics of two Edwardian periodicals, The New Age and The New Witness.' The University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, 5.

Chapters in edited collections

  • Villis, T. (2018) ‘The Hitler Manuscript’ in Berenato, T. (ed.) Unpublished Writings of David Jones: On Politics and Christian Modernism. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Villis, T. (2017) ‘Catholics, Modernism and Fascism: the politics of David Jones’ in Fiddes, P., Johnson, A,, Tonning, E. and Callison, J. (eds), David Jones: a Christian Modernist? New Approaches to his Art, Poetry and Cultural Theory. Leiden: Brill,
  • T. Villis (2014) ‘“I’ve written this very late at night and after some whisky – so forgive it’s [sic.] horrible balls.”: Methodological and moral problems in using letters to understand personal politics’ in S. Chen and A Kelley (eds), Approaching Letters and Letter Writing (Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford.)
  • Villis, T (2006). ‘Arthur Koestler' in S. Pons and R. Service (eds.), Dizionario del comunismo nel XX secolo (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore).
  • Villis, T (2006). ‘George Orwell' in S. Pons and R. Service (eds.), Dizionario del comunismo nel XX secolo (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore).
  • Villis, T (2007). ‘The New Age circle, 1907-1918', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford: OUP, online edition.
  • Villis, T (2007). ‘Philippe Mairet', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford: OUP, online edition.

Conference Papers Given

  • ‘David Jones and Catholic Social Thought’, Catholicism, Literature and the Arts, Durham University, 8-10 July 2019.
  • ‘Oswald Spengler, David Jones W. B. Yeats, and Historical Decline’, David Jones: Theory of Art; Theory of Culture, Seminar hosted by the David Jones Research Center, Booth Special Collections, Georgetown University Library, Washington D.C., 7-8 March, 2019.
  • ‘The English Benedictines and English Catholic Fascism’, English Benedictine History Commission, 43rd Symposium, Douai Abbey, 12 April 2018.
  • ‘The English Radical Right and the Paradoxes of Globalization’, Al-Falah University, Dubai, UAE, 4 May 2017.
  • ‘When was “The Break”? Catholic Ideas of Rupture in British History’, David Jones: Dialogues with the Past, University of York, 23 July 2016.
  • ‘Religious Minorities and Englishness’, University of Northampton History Research Seminar, 2 December 2015.
  • ‘English National Identity and Religious Minorities Since 1900’, Association for the Study of Nationalities, 2015 World Convention, Columbia University, New York, 23-25 April, 2015.
  • ‘Writing Englishness and Islam: Letters in Response to a Proposed Mosque in Cambridge’, 2nd Global Conference on Letters and Letter Writing, Lisbon, 22-24 March, 2015.
  • ‘David Jones and War’, The Legacy of the First World War, Regent’s University London, 19 September 2014. 
  • ‘Catholicism, Modernism and Fascism: the politics of David Jones in the context of the interwar Catholic literary community’, David Jones: Christian Modernist? St Anne’s College and Regent’s Park College Oxford, 10-13 September, 2014.
  • ‘Re-shaping English national identity and the construction of mosques’, Association for the Study of Nationalities 19th Annual World Convention, 24-26 April 2014, Columbia University, New York.
  • ‘“I’ve written this very late at night and after some whisky – so forgive it’s [sic.] horrible balls.”: Methodological and moral problems in using letters to understand personal politics’, Global Conference on Letters and Letter-Writing, 18-20 March 2014, Prague.
  • ‘Discourses of Englishness in the construction of mosques: the experience of Cambridge, UK’, Resurrections: the 21st International Conference of Europeanists, 13-16 March 2014, Washington D.C.
  • Invited Delegate, United Nations Development Programme, 2013 Consultation on the Human Development Report: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Deepening Progress, London School of Economics, 11 July 2013, London.
  • ‘British Catholics and Fascism', John Carroll University, Cleveland, USA, March 2012.
  • The Chesterbelloc and Fascism', Durham Catholic Theology Research Seminar, University of Durham, January 2009.
  • Keynote speeches on British national identity for the Marymount College summer faculty and student programmes in 2007 and 2008.
  • ‘British Catholics and Fascism, 1922-1940', Conference on ‘Rethinking Britain, 1918-1959', Institute of Historical Research, London, April 2004.
  • ‘The New Age, The New Witness and the Jews'. AHRB Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish / non-Jewish relations, Southampton, July 2003.
  • ‘Anti-feminism in Edwardian periodicals'. Colloquium on Edwardian feminist periodicals, King's College, Cambridge, May 2003.
  • ‘The New Age, The New Witness and the forging of a British anti-parliamentary tradition, 1910-14'. Seminar for British political and constitutional history, Cambridge, May 2003.
  • ‘Elitism and the revolt of the masses.' Seminar for the history of political thought, Cambridge, October 2001

Research Supervision

Tom has supervised numerous MA dissertations and is currently supervising three PhD students. 

Research Interests

Tom's research has focused on religion and politics, anti-parliamentary and elitist ideas in British culture, and the intellectual origins of fascism.

Grants Awarded

2011 HASS faculty research grant for project on British Catholics and Fascism

Professional Affiliation(s)/Accreditation

  • Member of the Institute of Historical Research
  • Member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy