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Professor Martin Hurcombe

Professor Martin Hurcombe

Professor Martin Hurcombe
BA (Hons), PhD(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. 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 a member of the executive committee of the Group for War and Culture Studies (GWACS), based at the Universities of Bristol, Swansea and Westminster, and 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 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: Representations of War, which studies the depiction of war in the twentieth-century French novel and cinema, and Challenging the Republic, which examines a variety of political movements that have contested the form of the French Republic since the 1920s. In the 2nd year I convene The Third Republic, which studies the social and political history of France from 1870 to 1940, and co-teach Modern French Narrative, a unit examining French fiction from the 1920s to the present. I also teach courses on war and culture at postgraduate level and am co-supervising two M.Litt/PhD theses: James McFarthing, ‘Utopian Theory and the Science Fiction of Jules Verne’ and Claire Thomas, ‘Ungaretti, giornalista’. I am also currently Deputy Head of School Teaching and Learning.

I would particularly welcome research students working on 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: Tuesday 2-2.50pm and Thursday 10-11am.


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 convene and helped design '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 from the Hundred Years War against the English through the Wars of Religion  the ancien régime, the Revolution of 1789 France's part in the two world wars and the creation of what is now the European Union.

Year 2

I currently lecture on Modern French Narrative, Occupation and Resistance and France and Europe. Most years I also offer a history unit, The Third Republic: France 1870-1940.

Year 4:

In French I convene and teach Representations of War (a unit which examines both literary and cinematic represnetations of the two world wars) and Challenging the Republic (a unit examining the history of political radicalism from teh twentieth century to the present). I also convene the school units The Radical Right and Independent Study.


In 2014-15 I will be on study leave.



  • 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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