Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Memory, slavery, television

Fictional représentations of slavery on TV are usually about the US, where slavery is more recent. But not this one . https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/the-long-song-tv-review-episode-one-hayley-atwell-lenny-henry-a8688416.html

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The idea of progress

There are a number of key moments in the history of scientific progress over the last few hundred years. We often hear about new factories and Fordism, or about transport and railways. Communications though are just as important, and here is one highlight from communication history : the first transatlantic cable, allowing for the very first time instantaneous communication across the world, by telegraph. Before you click on the link to the documentary, guess the date of the first transatlantic cable.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Thème agrégation : grammar time

You have got through about two thirds of your translation classes. You need to find a few hours ot go through them again, with your Grammaire explicative de la langue anglaise, look at the grammar mistakes you made, and study the grammar book until you are confident you would not make that particular mistake again.

The most dangerous attitude is to think that translating is a matter of feeling, and that if you practice it your feeling will solve the different problems.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Suggested translation passage from Hugo

Victor Hugo

In which the bishop finds himself in the presence of an unknown light.

At a time shortly after the date of the letter quoted in previous pages, he did one thing which, if one were to believe the unanimous opinion of the town’s population, was even more risk-laden than his stroll across the bandit-infested mountains. In the countryside close by Digne, there was a man who lived apart. This man, let us at once say that unsavoury word, had previously been an elected member of the National  Convention.[i] His name was G.
G., of the Convention was spoken of in the limited circles of Digne with something akin to horror[ii]. A member of the Convention, can you imagine that ? That sort of person existed in those times when people called each other “tu” and adressed others as “citizen”. This man was practically a monster. He had not voted for the death of the King, but almost. He was close to being a regicide. He had inspired terror. How could it be that after the return of the rightful princes, the man had not been tried by a provost’s court. They would not have had him beheaded – one must show clemency, admittedly – but a good lifelong banishment would have been pronounced. They would have made an example of him, indeed, and so on and so forth. What is more, he was an atheist, too, like they all are. One would have thought they were geese gossiping about a vulture.
And was G. a vulture, then? Indeed he was, if one were to judge by his wild attitude in isolating himself. Since he had not voted in favour of the death of the King, he had not figured in the decrees of exile and had been able to remain in France.[iii]
He lived three quarters of an hour away from the town, far from any hamlet, far from any path, in who knows what kind of lost refuge in the wildest of valleys. He kept there, it was said, a sort of field, a hole in fact, a den. He had no neighbours; there were not even passers-by. Since he had been living in that valley, the path which led there had disappeared beneath the grass. The place was spoken of as was the house of the executioner.
And yet the bishop reflected, and from time to time looked at the horizon where a small wodd of trees marked the valley of the ex-member of the Convention, and he said “there is a soul who dwells there alone.”
And in the depth of his thoughts, he added “His bishop ought to pay him a visit”.

Monument to the National Convention in Paris in the Pantheon 

[i] I am sure you have forgotten the history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Convention
[ii] I liked « something akin to horror ».

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Home rule in Ireland - an important debate

On the hundredth anniversary of the 1914 Home Rule Act, an Irish television station organized this debate. Should the Home Rule Act be celebrated as a constitutional advance which could have worked out, or seen as a dead end policy which was fortunately soon replaced by a more radical strategy? Our guests do not agree; there is nothing like a consensus; and if you can measure and describe their differing reasons, that is a great start.


MEEF More on the British Empire in India

A much more establishment view of the British Empire is available in this documentary. The images are very impressive.


M1 LEA last class

In the last class, I spoke of the history of racism and antiracism. My recording device did not work, so here is last year's class on (almost) exactly the same topic

Just click here for the Mp3

And the slides for all the multiculturalism classes are here as a Powerpoint slideshow

Here are a couple more links on the subject

A documentary on Cable Street

A documentary on Rock against Racism

Finding time to study when you don't have time to study

Especially for the concours, it's hard to find enough time to read and to revise. Here is a tool which i find extremely useful. Most of us have a few hours a week when we are cooking, shopping, cleaning, driving or on the bus, when we could listen to an MP3, but when it is not possible to read seriously. The website zamzar will convert a document file (word etc, not pdf) into an Mp3 for you to listen to. All the wikipedia articles you need or articles from the Revue française de civilisation britannique, etc.

The site is here https://www.zamzar.com/

It only works in English.

Here is an example of the resulting Mp3 just click here

That is just a short example, but it works for documents which are many pages long.

Monday, December 03, 2018

mémoire, héritage, ruptures - India

Obviously for Britain, one aspect of remembering heritage is commected with the British Empire. How should it be remembered and taught, in particular in England today where an important minority are descendants of Indians? This discussion between two Indian intellectuals about the history of British India opens up some of these questions.


Introduction to research

If there are any MEEF students who, for their "mémoire" in M2 would be interested in looking at some aspect of historical reality TV shows in Britain, do get in touch.

Here is some info https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Historical_reality_television_series

Here is an example (but there are dozens, from different centuries and with differing approaches). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9B1qevOK8U

I would think it was a subject which it would be easy to use subsequently in collège.

Today in the UK


Friday, November 30, 2018

M1 recherche/ MEEF First world war revising/extending etc

As you know, we have one last seminar, on Wednesday the 19th December 15h A202. Then your exam is in January.

For revision, naturally you can listen to some of the classes again - just scroll back through the blog.  There are also two articles here on the historiography.

My article in French here


And a completely different view of the same historiography here :

For the question of commemoration my article in English here, on which the first few classes were based:


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thème agrégation: où en sommes-nous?

If anyone besides myself is confused...

I will be marking the DST and giving you back your scripts in the fullness of time.

On 5th December we will be working in class on the passage from Victor Hugo.
On12th December, the passage from Vargas.
On 19th December, there is no class - this is the week of the mock exam, which I then intend to mark over the holidays.

On the 9th of January, we will work on the passage from Beckett, the last passage in the booklet.

On Christmas Day I will post here another booklet, including passages for the remaining classes we have together.

M1 LEA multiculturalism

If you liked "Back in time for Brixton", episode two is available on Youtube here


M1 LEA reminder

Let me repeat then: contrary to what I told you a month ago, there will be an ordinary class on the 4th December. The exam, which is worth 100% of your semester mark, will be on the 18th December.

Suggested translation passage from Ben Jelloun

Suggested translation: Passage from Partir, by Tahar Ben Jelloun[i]

Carmen was not happy.[ii] Her Miguel was losing his mind.[iii] This marriage with the sister of that scrounger,[iv] as she called him, was driving her mad.[v] She was well aware[vi] that her protégé[vii] was being manipulated and exploited, that he was letting himself be pushed around and that he would not stand any criticism. After having asked Maria, an old gypsy seer and spellcaster, for advice, Carmen came back home, fully determined to put an end to this state of affairs. She burnt incense[viii] and placed cloves in specific places[ix] around the house. According to Maria, it would take some time for this[x] staging to work. All she need do was wait and pray.
          Miguel hated the smell of cloves, which reminded him too much of the dentist’s. First, he asked Kenza whether it was she who[xi] was using[xii] that perfume, since[xiii] the peasants of the Atlas Mountains[xiv] were mad about it. Kenza was very much taken aback[xv] by this and in her turn started searching for where the smell was coming from. She suspected it was Carmen who had always given her nasty looks, but she kept her suspicions to herself. She might[xvi] have used her position as Miguel’s wife and the mistress[xvii] of the house, but she chose not to. Above all, she needed to calm things down. This house was turning into a theatre, putting on a bad play.
          Kenza decided to go live in a room in the Cruz Roja and to try to talk her brother into changing his ways. Although she was still waiting for her residence and work permits, which would enable her at last to be completely at ease in Spain, she knew that the real problem was Azel whom she saw less and less and whom she had no hold over.[xviii] She felt embarrassed to talk to her brother about sex, something Moroccan families did not talk about;[xix] she did know what was going on and yet what words could she use?[xx] Before she could even broach the subject,[xxi] Azel starting denying it; he would get really angry[xxii] and start shouting:  “Really? Who do you take me for?”[xxiii]
 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "cloves"

[i] You can find a summary of the novel here https://la-plume-francophone.com/2007/06/01/tahar-ben-jelloun-partir/

[ii] « Not pleased » is good. If you write « unhappy », you are changing the focus, without reason.
[iii]  Interestingly, losing one's mind is more or less permanent, while losing one's head is temporary and stress-induced. (an online linguistics forum reminded me of this).
[iv] Someone found « leech ». For the grammar, note that the relative clause means it is far simpler (perhaps essential) to use the structure with « of ».
[v] « Mad » is a little better than « crazy ». I liked structures like « made her blood boil ».
[vi] Not « she did see », because it has not been suggested that she did not.
[vii] Or « her favourite », perhaps.
[viii] Note that this cannot be « she made incense burn ». The structure « fit brûler » is analogous to the use of this structure in cooking instructions « Faites frire les oignons » : « fry the onions » ; « Faire chauffer le lait » : « heat the milk ».
[ix] Several students wrote « some specific places », which underlines the partial nature of the exercise far too heavily.
[x] « This » and not « that ». Note that as a general rule, an element which we have just defined is « this ». « The government has established a new consultative committee on higher education fees. This committee will meet for the first time next month ».
[xi] Structures with « the one » are clumsy here.
[xii] Note aspect.
[xiii] As I may have already mentioned, you are not generally allowed to separate two constituted main clauses only by a comma. You must try this very short quiz https://www.waikato.ac.nz/students/student-learning/grammar/hotpot/comma_splice_quiz.shtml
[xv] Very puzzled… Expressions such as « dumbfounded » are far too strong here.
[xvi] I think that might is much better than any other option here.

[xvii] « Lady of the house » I think is okay. « Mistress » is better though, because more traditional and less bourgeois. « Master of the House » is also a fine song from the English version of « Les Misérables » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWzBtuGsXGc

[xviii] Or « over whom she had no influence ». People had difficulties finding the correct preposition, « over ».
[xix] I liked sentences with the expression « not the done thing ».
[xx] Or « How could she put it into words ? »
[xxi] Or « mention the subject ». « Adress the issue » is too formal.
[xxii] « He would get worked up » is good.
[xxiii] Even though there were no quotation marks in the French, you should put them in in the English.