‘Hammer and Cycle: Communism’s Cycling Counter Culture in Interwar France’
March 20 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Martin Hurcombe is Professor of French Studies at the University of Bristol, UK, and a specialist of early twentieth-century French political culture, history and literature. His PhD examined the French combat novel of the First World War, arguing that the experience of combat led to a fundamental shift in the way that a generation of French intellectuals experienced time and space and, consequently, the world around them, exploring the political ramifications of these experiences. It was published in 2004 as Novelists in Conflict: Ideology and the Absurd in the French Combat Novel of the Great War. His second book, France and the Spanish Civil War: Cultural Representations of the War next Door, 1936-1945 (2011), studied the extent to which the war beyond the Pyrenees served a utopian function for both the radical left and right in France, offering forms of social reorganisation and new models with which to oppose the French Third Republic. His interest in utopia as critical tool for examining the present and imagining the future is also evident in his most recent book, co-authored with Matryn Cornick and Angela Kershaw: French Political Travel Writing in the Inter-War Years: Radical Departures. He has also published extensively on twentieth-century French crime fiction and, most recently, on the memory of Nazi collaboration in three French, Norwegian, and Swedish crime novels. With Simon Kemp, he is the co-editor of the only study of the award-winning French crime writer Sébastien Japrisot (Sébastien Japrisot: The Art of Crime, 2009). He is also one of the founding editors of the Journal of War and Culture Studies.
His current project represents something of a departure from his interest in war and culture, however, whilst still combining his fascination with the political, historical, and textual. This new project explores the history of cycling literature in France. The relationship between a range of textual practices and cycling in France is a long and complex one. Moreover, writing about sport, and especially cycling, is a serious business for the French. This project traces the relationship between road cycling, the national and regional press, key authors and journalists (such as Pierre Chany and Antoine Blondin), and the impact of new media on the way that cycling is narrated. It explores ideas of national, regional and political identities as well as issues of class, gender and race. Professor Hurcombe is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Moore Institute.