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Professor Martin Hurcombe

Professor Martin Hurcombe

Professor Martin Hurcombe
B.A. (Hons.), Ph.D.(Bristol), PGCE

Professor of French Studies

Area of research

War, Culture and Politics in Early Twentieth-Century France

Office 1.66, 19 Woodland Rd
19 Woodland Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TE
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 8447


I am principally interested in the relationship between representations of conflict and politics in early twentieth-century France. I am the author of Novelists in Conflict: Ideology and the Absurd in the French Combat Novel of the Great War and France and the Spanish Civil War: Cultural Representations of the War next Door, 1936-1945. With Martyn Cornick and Angela Kershaw, I have recently written French Political Travel Writing in the Inter-War Years: Radical Departures. I am also interested in the relationship between political commitment and utopianism and the memory of the First World War in twentieth-century French culture. I am one of the editors of the Journal of War and Culture Studies. In addition to this, I also have an interest in French crime fiction, particularly the novels of Sébastien Japrisot. My current project investigates the history of French cycling via its textual representation, particularly in sports journalism, biography and auto-biogreaphy. 


My teaching interests are French literature, culture, and history of the early twentieth century. I also teach general history and literature courses in Year 1 and final-year language. I am unit convenor for two final-year units: War Stories, which studies the depiction of war in the twentieth-century French novel and cinema, and Political Cultures of Early Twentieth-Century France, which examines a variety of phenomena (from nationalism to sport via feminism and existentialism) that reflect the battle for France from 1900 to 1949. In the 2nd year I co-convene The Third Republic, which studies the social and political history of France from 1870 to 1940. I also teach courses on war and culture at postgraduate level and  regularly supervise postgraduate dissertations and theses. 

I would particularly welcome research students working on late 19th and 20th-century cultural representations of conflict and/or political engagement and cultural politics in France.

My students can consult me in my office at the following time during term times and without an appointment: Wednesday 9.30-11.30am.


I studied French and Italian at the University of Exeter where I also later completed a PGCE (after a year working at the Université de Rennes II). I spent several years in secondary education pretending that I didn't miss academia until coming to Bristol as a PhD student. I completed my doctoral thesis, 'Forming the Modern Mind: A Reappraisal of the French Combat Novel of World War One', in 2000 under the supervision of Gino Raymond. That same year, I became a lecturer here in the Department of French.

I am one of the editors of the Journal of War and Culture Studies and an executive member of the Group for War and Culture Studies, currently based at the University of Westminster.

I am a keen runner and cyclist and an occasional triathlete.



Year 1

I lecture on and teach  'Shaping France', which is a mandatory unit for all first-year students of French. The idea behind this unit is to give students a grounding in the principal ideas and some of the key events that have all contributed or in some way challenged French national identity (such as the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the Revolution of 1789, the creation of the Third Republic, the loss of empire and the emergence of French multiculturalism).

Year 2

I have co-taught 'The Third Republic: France 1870-1940', which examines key events and ideas from this era, over a number fo years. The unit is being replaced in 2019 with 'France in Ferment'.

Year 4:

I convene and teach Political Cultures of Early Twentieth-Century France, which studies everything from developments in radical politics and feminism to the politics of the Tour de France.

Consultation Hours (2018-19): Wednesday 9.30-11.30am, 1.66, 19 Woodland Rd.




  • conflict
  • war
  • culture
  • early twentieth-century history and politics
  • fascism
  • communism

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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