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Dr Alastair Hemmens

Dr Alastair Hemmens

Lecturer in French

School of Modern Languages

Email
hemmensa@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2251 0105
Campuses
2.36, 66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

My research focuses on critical theory and modern European intellectual and cultural history.

My most recent works include The Critique of Work in Modern French Thought, from Charles Fourier to Guy Debord (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and a co-edited volume, The Situationist International: A Critical Handbook (London: Pluto Press, 2020).

I have also translated a number of theoretical works by the philosopher Anselm Jappe, including The Writing on the Wall: On the Decomposition of Capitalism and its Critics (London: Zero Books, 2017).

I am the deputy school exams officer and the co-ordinator of our French year abroad programme. I also convene our first year French undergraduate culture programme.

My office drop-in hours are 10 to 12 on Mondays.

Biography

My university education began with a BA Hons in English Language and Literature at University College London. After this, I moved to Paris where I recieved a grant to study an MA in Paris Studies: The History and Culture of Paris at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). I went on to do a PhD at ULIP in French and Comparative studies with a thesis on the life and work of the Belgian Situationist, Raoul Vaneigem. During my studies I worked as a TEFL teacher for the Riviera School of English in Torbay and as a private tutor in Paris. My first academic teaching post was working for the American University of Washington and Accent International in Paris as a lecturer in Paris: Civilization and Culture. In 2014, I was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowshop at Cardiff University School of Modern Languages. In 2019, I took on my current post here at Cardiff as Lecturer in French.

Honours and awards

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, 3 Years

Publications

2020

2019

2017

2015

2014

2013

2012

Teaching

I teach courses on modern French history and culture as well as translation. At present, topics include the development of the French nation state in the nineteenth century, the history and legacy of May '68 and the cultural and political memory of Napoleon Bonaparte. I have also taught modules on the the history of the French artistic avant-garde. Previous to moving to Cardiff, I taught the history and culture of Paris for the American University of Washington and Accent International in Paris. This included on-site visits to key monuments such as the Panthéon, Père Lachaise cemetery and Napoleon's tomb

I am the deputy school exams officer and the co-ordinator of our French year abroad programme. I also convene our first year French undergraduate culture programme.



My research focuses on critical theory and French intellectual and cultural history. I have particular expertise in the field of the ‘critique of work’ and the study of the post-war artistic avant-garde. My most recent book, The Critique of Work in Modern French Thought, from Charles Fourier to Guy Debord (2019), puts forward a critical negative theory of labour as a destructive social form historically specific to capitalism in order to analyse critically the intellectual history of anti-work discourse among radical French artists and intellectuals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Similarly, I recently edited a major collective volume, The Situationist International: A Critical Handbook (2021), that provides a critical introduction and new perspectives on one of the most radical anti-art and revolutionary avant-gardes of the twentieth century. My contribution to the volume focuses in particular on assessing the reception and legacy of the group as well as its relationship to the concepts of ‘alienation’ and the ‘subject of history’. My research is therefore concerned both with the elaboration of a critical theory of modern society, both in the abstract and in its many concrete manifestations, and the critical analysis of the history of intellectual engagement with these same issues. My critical perspective is primarily based on an engagement with the critique of value and critique of value-dissociation frameworks advanced in the work of such authors as Moishe Postone, Robert Kurz, Roswitha Scholz and Anselm Jappe. The critique of value provides a radical Marxian critical theory of capitalism as a form of abstract and impersonal domination, rather than, as in ‘traditional Marxism’, an analysis that assumes the critique of modern society is primarily a matter of personal domination in the form of private property and class relations.

Supervision

  • Modern French Intellectual and Cultural History
  • Guy Debord and the Situationist International
  • The Post-War European Avant-Garde
  • Marxian Theory
  • The Critique of Value Dissociation / Wertabspaltungskritik
  • Anti-capitalist analysis in French contexts