Sunday, July 26, 2020

Agrégation anglais 2021 civilisation britannique tronc commun La BBC et le service public de l'audiovisuel 1922-1995 Post ten: browsing the history of the BBC

Any advanced student of history needs to know how to look at very long documents very quickly, because there is rarely time to read books from the beginning to the end. Every year, the BBC produces a yearbook which discusses some of the most important changes of the year. If you browse through these, you will get  a very good impression of the atmosphere of the BBC. You might read only the headlines and the adverts, and just one article from time to time (because there are thousands of pages here). Or you might just look at yearbooks from certain key years.

US enthusiasts have grouped together PDF versions of the yearbooks here :


Saturday, July 25, 2020


I am sure everyone has heard plenty about  COVID  19 over the last few months, and thank you to everyone who has been wearing masks, limiting visits and washing their hands, so as to protect vulnerable older people. This documentary looks in some detail about the fight against the virus in Ireland. I recommend it :


Félicitations à tous/toutes nos  étudiant e s qui ont réussi leur CAPES§

Monday, July 13, 2020

Conseils agrégation Rouen

Students working with me to prepare their agrégation at the University of Rouen will find themselves consulting two blogs: the one you are on right now which gives learning resources, feedback and so on for all the subjects which I personally teach (thème, compréhension orale, méthodologie, la BBC et James Cook) and the official University blog with mostly administrative and timetable information from all the teaching team, which  is here https://agreganglaisrouen.wordpress.com

Here is the advice for my own classes, which has already appeared on the other blog:

Conseils pour compréhension orale (agregation interne : M Mullen)
L’essentiel est d’écouter beaucoup les podcasts de différents radios, disponibles à télécharger par le web. Sur le site de la BBC, je recommande  Desert Island Discs, Front Row, Making History, Woman’s  Hour, More or less.  L’avantage d’un podcast est que vous pouvez facilement écouter  plusieurs fois. Vous trouverez des podcasts également sur les radios américains, néozélandais, australiens, sud-africains etc, et je mettrai des liens sur mon blog http://johncmullen.blogspot.com/ Il est essentiel d’écouter ce type d’émission documentaire, qui est d’une densité et un rhythme tout à fait différents aux films et séries télévisées. Si vous avez une grande confiance dans votre niveau d’anglais, écoutez Friday Night Comedy de BBC radio 4
Thème (John Mullen ) (agrégation externe et interne)
Vous lirez d’autres grammaires pour la préparation de la partie  linguistique, mais pour le thème, il faut relire, du début à la fin, la grammaire « Grammaire explicative de l’anglais » de Larreya et Rivière. Les éditions les plus récentes sont présentées plus clairement. On ne peut pas lire un livre de grammaire d’un trait : lisez quelques pages par jour, et notez ce que vous n’avez pas compris (pour des séances questions-réponses en cours).
Lisez aussi Le Prétérit en anglais d’Anne Trevise (Nathan 1994). Il est extrêmement utile, facile à lire, mais difficile à dénicher : essayez dans les bibliothèques ou les librairies d’occasion
Il y aura un texte à traduire pour chaque cours. Il faut le traduire à la maison, saud cas de force majeure. On ne peut malheureusement pas apprendre suffisamment rapidement la traduction en regardant traduir les autres.
Vous aurez la possibilité d’envoyer votre traduction avant le cours par mail et recevoir ainsi une correction détaillée.
Des conseils et des informations se trouveront toute l’année sur mon blog http://johncmullen.blogspot.fr/ où seront publiées également les traductions suggérées. La brochure des textes à traduire sera mise sur le blog au cours de l’été.
Conseils BBC 1922-1995 -John Mullen
Agrégation Civilisation britannique tronc commun
La BBC et le service public de l’audiovisuel 1922-1995
Premiers conseils : il faut étudier le texte de cadrage (et regarder la grande bibliographie) sur le site de la SAES. (Bibliographie ici : https://saesfrance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Bibliographie-BBC.pdf ) Notez qu’à la fin de la bibliographie, il y a une sélection d’émissions connues dont certains épisodes sont disponibles en ligne. A explorer.
Le livre de Andrew Crisell, An Introductory History of British Broadcasting est indispensable. L’édition de 1997 ou 2002 est moins chère.
Je travaille avec un blog qui est ici : http://johncmullen.blogspot.com/ . Je mettrai régulièrement à partir de maintenant des recommandations sur ce blog avec des liens vers des vidéos, podcasts, articles, concernant la question de la BBC. Visitez régulièrement. Les cours sur la BBC auront lieu à partir de début novembre, mais ce serait bien que vous ayez déjà des élements en tête à ce moment-là.
Enfin, pour réflexion, cette chanson d’un chanteur qui a pris l’initiative d’écrire un hymne à la BBC : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3q2iZuU5WM
Conseils pour James Cook (à suivre)

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Agrégation 2021 civilisation britannique tronc commun. La BBC et le service public de l'audiovisuel 1922-1995. Post nine: "ethnic" comedy

One of the great themes of 20th century British civilization is the winning of independence by almost all the British colonies between 1945 and 1975, and the changes in British culture and society as communities coming from the ex-colonies gradually won more visibility in public spaces and reduced the acceptability of discrimination. The BBC is, naturally, very much affected and involved in these processes.

This interview deals with a TV series which began in 1996, outside our period then, but it explains some of the questions posed by the writing and producing of humour by ethnic minorities for television.


Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Measuring worth

All historians are concerned at times with evaluating past prices and wages. If someone on Captain Cook's ship, or someone joining the BBC in the 1930s, earned a hundred pounds, what does this quantity of money mean.

The question is always delicate. The 18th century sailor did not need to pay phone bills or have a motor car. The 1930s BBC manager was not obliged to pay tuition fees for his daughters and sons to go to university.

Still, a good understanding can be gleaned from this impressive website, run by established historians and economists


Friday, July 03, 2020

Agrégation anglais 2021, civilisation britannique tronc commun, la BBC et le service public de l'audiovisuel 1922-1995 . Post eight : the BBC and the miners' strike

Many things have been written about how the media cover industrial disputes and other protests, and there is certainly no consensus. This article gives a rather particular point of view - responsible for much of the BBC coverage of the 1984-85 British miners' strike, Nicholas Jones now thinks he was pushed into producing anti-strike propaganda. 


Monday, June 29, 2020

M1 MEEF dossier women's activism

Some of you sent me your analysis of a set of documents concerning women's activism in the UK (either as an official exam or as a practive). I will put here some notes about this exercise - this post will probably be updated several times over the next few days.

I am sure you remember the aim is to show three things
- that your English is good (whether a written or an oral exam)
- that you understand the documents and what their authors are trying to do
- that you know the history they are part of. You can show you know some British history (in this case).

And the two main dangers as ever
1) paraphrasing the documents.
2) repeating your history class, without reference to the documents.

This is a difficult exercise, and remembering all five of these elements is delicate.

Certainly for most answers I got this time the main weakness was not showing knowledge of British history. So here is somewhere you can revise the history of women's activism in Britain. (Mp3 lectures) There is no doubt too much here, but if you can listen to some of it, that will help.

Women in GB part one
Women in GB part two
Women in GB part three
Women in GB part four

Here  are a few mistakes people fell into - they are not a disaster in themselves, but much better avoided.

1) This set of documents is clearly about the history of women's activism in the United Kingdom. If you use examples or quotations from the women's movement in the United States or in France, the examiner will read this as if you had written "I know nothing at all about the subject in Britain!!" It might be possible to give one example from outside Britain if you have already given three examples from Britain, but be careful.

2) You should not give the impression that the women's movements in Britain were a monolithic, homogeneous phenomenon where women in general all agreed with each other that something needed to be done, and then they did it. Like all political movements it was full of arguments and contradictions, successes and failures. National women's liberation conferences took place in the 1970s on several occasions. The last one, at the end of the 1970s, broke up because of deep disagreements - and noone ever dared organize another national women's liberation conference again!

3) It is not your job to praise feminism or denounce feminism - your main tone has to remain analytical.

[more comments will be added later here ] 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Agrégation anglais 2021 civilisation britannique. La BBC et le service public de l'audiovisuel . Post seven - Asa Briggs, writing the history of the BBC

As well as the powerful economic, social, cultural and psychological factors which create us and our history, the past has its fair share of unplanned accidents which have enormous effects. With respect to the BBC, two of these are
1)      the recruiting of John Reith as its first director-general (when, as he later recounted, he hadn’t heard of the word « broadcasting » before !), and
2)      the recruiting, thirty years or so later, of Asa Briggs to write a history of the BBC (which would eventually count five volumes and cover 1922-1974). By a stroke of luck, Briggs was one of the best historians Britain has produced.
Now, most of you are unlikely to get through the five volumes of Asa Briggs’s  The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. (Vol 1 : The Birth of Broadcasting – 1961. Vol 2 : The Golden Age of Wireless (1927–1939) – 1965. Vol 3 : The War of Words (1939–1945) – 1970. Vol 4 : Sound and Vision (1945–1955) – 1979. Vol 5 : Competition (1955–1974) – 1995.) But these comments of Briggs about aspects of the writing of it are not to be missed :


Over the next six months or so I will be publishing on this blog quite a number of links to videos, articles and websites which will help you explore the history of the BBC. JM

Saturday, June 27, 2020

L3 Civilisation britannique. Feedback on retake assessment

L3 Civilisation britannique – Popular Culture in the UK since 1945

L’examen de deuxième session posait la question suivante

 « Popular music is not just about melody and words. It is about who we wish we were. » Discuss, giving plenty of examples from British popular music since 1945.

Many of the answers were fine. Here are some of the main problems encountered.
The first is with  the analysis of the question : "popular music is about who we wish we were". That means it is about imagining we are someone else. A typical answer would be first to show some ways in which this is true (the young person who had to work in a rather uninteresting office during the week could be a punk or a mod or a metalhead at weekends), and then to show some ways in which popular music means other things which are not connected with pretending to be someone else.

A commmon mistake was to write an essay about another subject – usually the use of popular music in political protest. This is very interesting, but that was not the question.

Another major mistake was to give French or American examples to illustrate what the student wanted to say. This is an exam about British popular culture since 1945. If you use mostly French or US examples, you are telling the examiner that you know nothing about British examples. 

It is also a good idea to avoid using extremely famous examples. If the only British groups you mention are the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, well these are examples that everyone is aware of whether or not they have followed a course on British popular culture since 1945 : better to avoid them, because they are not impressing the examiner.

Friday, June 26, 2020

La rentrée septembre 2020

Au premier semestre je donnerai des cours

De L3 sur la culture populaire en GB depuis 1945

De M2/agrégation - cours de thème

De M1 recherche/MEEF séminaire sur la Première Guerre

De M1 MEEF civilisation britannique.

D'agrégation sur  la BBC 1922-1995

Du point de vue sanitaire, j'ai de la chance, car j'ai peu de groupes très nombreux. Néanmoins il semble probable que pour certains cours je ferai des cours hybrides (Par exemple un cours à distance sur deux).

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Agrégation anglais 2021 civilisation britannique tronc commun; La BBC 1922-1995. Post six : drama for young people

A lot of the best-known analysis of media and television concentrates on how the news is presented and how - sometimes subtle - bias is often present. This is important, but television is much more than the news: TV series have become ever more influential over the last seventy years. One example from the BBC which is interesting to examine is Grange Hill, a series which takes place in what is presented as an "ordinary" secondary school. Here is an episode from the 1980s.


Over the next six months or so I will be publishing quite a number of links to videos, articles and websites which will help you explore the history of the BBC. JM