Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post seven

Not everyone can go off to Sydney to climb aboard the replica of Captain Cook's  Ship the Endeavour (which I will be doing next week)! But next best is to absorb the atmosphere with this virtual tour.


Saturday, June 08, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 post six

To understand Cook's crew, his voyages and  their consquences, we need some idea of what life was like in 18th century England.  I highly recommend this general book.

The Penguin Social History of Britain: English Society in the Eighteenth Century (Anglais) Broché – 25 octobre 2012

de Roy Porter  (Auteur)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais option civilisation 2020 post five

This short comic video is not about Captain Cook, but it could have been.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post four

One of the major questions posed by Cook's voyages is the future of the australian aboriginal peoples. This series of documentaries will give you some good information. There are a number of episodes, but episode one is essential.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

concours civilisation GB

If you are planning on taking the CAPES or agrégation in 2020, you need to be thinking about revising, among other things, your knowledge of British history.

You could do worse than start with the history of Wales, covered in these excellent documentaries:


Friday, May 24, 2019

Réunion d’information agrégation anglais Rouen 2020

le mercredi 5 juin à 14h30 en salle A 510 il y aura une réunion d’information pour toutes celles et tous ceux qui voudraient suivre la préparation pour l’agrégation d’anglais en 2020. ( interne ou externe). Veuillez faire circuler cette information.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Revue française de civilisation britannique: Home Rule

Vient de sortir! Notre revue sur la question du Home Rule.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post three

There will be a huge number of commemorative activities to mark the 250th anniversary of Cook's voyages. They will be very varied in  nature and in politics, and the debate should be very lively. Here is a site where you can begin to explore what is going on. 

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post two

If you are in London at all, do not miss this small but essential exhibition at the British museum.


Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post one

I will be teaching this option at Rouen, so I am now myself beginning to study it in detail. I will put up here on this blog useful resources, mostly videos.

I recommend converting  the videos to Mp3, to allow you to listen to them while driving, doing the shopping or tidying your home, playing golf or waiting for a bus. This is what I do.

This collection of posts does not replace a serious bibliography, which the SAES normally makes available a little later in the year. In any case, it is essential to read the framing document (here http://media.devenirenseignant.gouv.fr/file/agreg_externe/57/9/p2020_agreg_ext_lve_anglais_1107579.pdf )

and the journals themselves.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

L3 Popular music slides and recordings

I do not have all the recordings of all the classes. But on popular music, I posted the first class recording a couple of weeks ago. 

You will find the second class recording here: 

And the slides accompanying all three classes are here :

Just click here

podcast history of British popular music

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Café débat Brexit

Aujourd’hui à 17h A401 UFR de Lettres, j’anime pour une association étudiante ACEL un café débat sur le thème du Brexit.

Entrée libre!

Monday, April 22, 2019

How to write about (popular) music ?

This book came out, full of advice about how to write about (popular) music. I wrote a review of it.

Review of : Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan (Eds), HOW TO WRITE ABOUT MUSIC , Excerpts from the 33 1/3 series, magazines, books and blogs with advice from industry-leading writers, Bloomsbury Academic, New York and London, 2015, 414 pages.

Not a book you get bored with.
Review by John Mullen, Université Paris Est Creteil

Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan (Eds), HOW TO WRITE ABOUT MUSIC , Excerpts from the 33 1/3 series, magazines, books and blogs with advice from industry-leading writers, Bloomsbury Academic, New York and London, 2015, 414 pages.

Not a book you get bored with, though you might feel irritated almost as often as enlightened. This volume is made up of a large number of short writings on Western popular music, (mostly canonical but sometimes underground), along with endless advice from writers on what to do if you want your writing for fans to be published and paid for. It has been put together by the editors of the 33 1/3 series, an endeavour now counting a hundred books, each analysing one music album from recent decades.

The book has three different aspects. Firstly, it is indisputably itself a rock object. Filled with short and pithy productions with soundbites[1] and neologisms galore, it is often unbearably hip. Right from the foreword, packed with exclamation marks, you know what you are in for. It has all the rock attitudes: sentimentality (“our beloved 33 1/3 series”, write “for love or not at all”); hyperbole (this series has “revolutionized contemporary rock criticism”); melodrama (“great albums still completely fuck my whole life up”; you should write about music “in exactly the same way that you would write a suicide note”); and contradiction (advice from “people who themselves avoided all the advice anyone ever gave them”). The music writers are interviewed as if they were themselves minor rock stars (“How did you land your job?” “How is music writing different?” “Where do you find inspiration?” “Who is your dream interview subject?” “Which three songs, two objects and one novel would you take on a desert island?”) One writer “would so love to take Oscar Wilde out to karaoke”, innit?

Secondly, this is a manual for would-be writers on rock and pop music, featuring a few hundred short paragraphs of advice from a few dozen authors (“expert advice from our writers”). Although the back cover exclaims that the tome is “crammed full of stellar advice”, the tips given are of extremely uneven quality. Some are embarrassingly obvious (for an album review “begin by listening to the disc in question several times”; for the artist interview “don’t read from your notes too much” and in general “Use Google to check your facts”, and “don’t trust Wikipedia as your sole source”). Some are just not interesting (“What was your biggest mistake?” “I totally trashed an album in my college newspaper that later became one of my favorites”; “How has the field of music-writing changed ?” “It’s better in some ways and worse in others - very difficult to say”). One section is actually labelled “offbeat advice” although its contents is sometimes less than wacky (“I always file on time”; “I try to have a clear picture in mind of who reads what I wrote”). In the last pages, one of the star writers seems to undermine the whole exercise: “I think that reading other music writing is often a trap”.

As well as the tips from “industry-leading writers”[2] the reader is provided with a series of “writing prompts” – practice exercises for budding writers (Write an album review about a group you know nothing about; go to a concert and write about it to deadline, write a 2 000 word essay that explores your connection to a single song). Useful for college courses on music writing (I’m assuming such courses exist). Clearly, the editors felt there were a lot of people who would buy a book aimed at helping them to get published. Some of the advice may serve its purpose, this is difficult to judge.

Finally and mostly, the volume is an anthology of 48 pieces of writing on a vast variety of Western popular music of recent decades (with one or two older themes). Different kinds of articles each get a chapter: album reviews, concert reviews, artist interviews, personal essays, artist profiles, scene analyses, musical analyses, “cultural criticism”, and experimental writing (including novelettes based on music albums, and an extract from a graphic novel about Black Flag).

As a whistle-stop tour around today’s journalistic writing on popular music, the book stands up very well. You can read chirpy concert reviews written as if we were all young (“She’s like Chris Ware, except not, except totally.”). The style is sometimes enjoyably creative (“So much sass! Pickup trucks! Dads who are gonna beat up ex-boyfriends! I’LL TAKE IT.”) True, there is also analysis you might find more pompous than illuminating (“Sociology … is an obvious functional drag, particularly when it subverts the move qua move by means of opaque non-magical causality.”) But much of the writing is good. There is an insightful piece on Enya, and a thoughtful piece on computers and music. The best contributions  are those which deal with how the creation of a sense of mythology through music works in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, with the emotional power of drumming and in particular that of The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, with the “mumfordization of pop”, with Radiohead’s image and music and with dance clubs in Kosovo. An article on how The Beatles chose instruments for “Strawberry Fields Forever” gives a fascinating glimpse of the different factors involved. The application of music theory to Kate Perry’s “Teenage Dream” is very convincing. And one of my favourite pieces speaks against the rock consensus in defence of sentimental music.

Several articles go into on what particular albums meant to particular young people (the writers) at a particular time. This category varies from the touching to the pretentious. But all in all, there is much which is worth reading if, as I have said, accompanied by an editorial tone which is unbearably hip and with practically no analysis of what hip is and why it is. One occasionally gets an image of the music writer as someone who wants to be ever so rock n roll, yet still be at home for the kids every evening, rather than in a rickety old tour bus hundreds of miles away.

The book gives opinion and analysis from 41 men and 4 women (and the 4 women write less than the average male contributor). A less generous or more feminist reviewer than myself might be tempted to suggest the book be re-titled “How men have written about popular music”. This points up a major flaw, since in all the plethoric advice about how to write about music, the question of what to do if you’re a woman writer is not mentioned. This is all the more surprising as one of the editors has previously written a book on women singer-songwriters, so must presumably have a feel for gender issues in the business.[3]

There is plenty to please and educate in here. Many people who read this review are used to writing about music in a less hip manner, since there are in reality many ways of carrying out such a task, but it does us no harm to see how the other half lives.

John Mullen
This review is a draft version of a piece which was written for IASPM Journal.

[1] “Keep your overhead low and your expectations lower”; “He plays [drums] like D H Lawrence writes”; “Music writing is the crack cocaine of non-fiction writing”; “You could say Punk rock is anger’s schmaltz.”
[2] For an analysis of the industrialization of popular music criticism, and a general view of changes in content due to this industrialization, see Thomas Connor and Steve Jones, “Art to Commerce: the Trajectory of Popular Music Criticism” in IASPM@journal, vol 4 N° 2, 2014, available online www.iaspmjournal.net

[3] Marc Woodford, Solo: Women Singer-Songwriters, New York, Dell, 1998.



Saturday, April 20, 2019

L3 What is high culture doing, meanwhile?

One of the most popular (!) events in British high culture... is the series of promenade concerts every year. Here is a review of this year's: