Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Alastair Hemmens

Dr Alastair Hemmens

Senior Lecturer in French

Ysgol Ieithoedd Modern

+44 29225 10105
66a Plas y Parc, Ystafell 2.36, Cathays, Caerdydd, CF10 3AS
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My research focuses on the intellectual history of radical theory in modern French society. I have written extensively on the Situationist International and I am more widely interested in the long history of struggles against and experience of capitalist modernity in France and Belgium. My own critical perspective is greatly informed by the critique of value school developed in Germany by the Krisis group around figures such as Robert Kurz and Roswitha Shulz and, more recently, in France by Anselm Jappe.

In 2014 I was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in order to conduct research on a project entitled: “Ne Travaillez jamais: The Critique of Work in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century French Thought, from Charles Fourier to Guy Debord.” The project aims to provide a hidden history of French thinkers who have sought to free human beings from work through the radical transformation of society.










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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.


I teach modules on translation, modern France and May ’68. I also supervise fourth-year dissertations. Previous to Cardiff, I taught a course on the history and culture of Paris for the American University Washington that included on-site lectures in historically significant sites in the city. My approach to teaching is grounded in my own experiences and passion as a researcher, a translator and a student of modern languages.


I did my BA in English at University College London. I then moved to Paris where I did an MA in Paris Studies at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). I continued my postgraduate studies at ULIP where I undertook a PhD in French and Comparative Studies with a thesis on the life and work of the Belgian Situationist Raoul Vaneigem. In 2013 I worked for The American University of Washington and Accent International in Paris as a lecturer of Paris: Civilization and Culture. In 2014 I was awarded a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Cardiff University.

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Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, 3 Years

Meysydd goruchwyliaeth

  • 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