Sunday, December 30, 2018

Préparation de l'agrégation : cours de thème

Unless I am mistaken, we have seven classes after the Christmas break. Here is the programme:

8 january :  passage from Beckett (please do send it me, before the 5th).

15 january: we will go through BOTH the classroom test (Tout le monde parlait du livre ...)  and the concours blanc (Ceci ne doit étonner personne ...). I will put my suggested translations for these passage up here on the blog beforehand, so you can prepare questions etc.

22 january and onwards: we will work on passages from the new booklet, which will go up here on the blog in PDF format over the next few days.

Otherwise, I hope the holidays are going well for you, that Father Christmas was generous, and that 2019 brings you both the agrégation and joy and peace.

Suggested translation: passage from Vargas

      Adamsberg was sitting on a rock on the harbour jetty[i] and watching the Grimsey fishermen as they came back in from their day’s fishing, moored their boats and raised the nets. Here, on this small Icelandic island,[ii] they called him ‘Berg’. The wind was blowing in from the sea; the temperature was eleven degrees; the sun was blurred and the place stank of fish innards. He had forgotten that he had once been a police superintendent in charge of twenty-seven detectives of the Paris crime squad in the 13th arrondissement. His telephone had fallen into some sheep dung and one of the animal’s hooves had thrust it in even more deeply, neatly but not agressively. This was an unheard-of way of losing one’s mobile, the full meaning of which had not been wasted on Adamsberg.
Gunnlaugur, the owner of the small inn, was on his way to the port, too, ready to take the best of the catch for the evening meal. Adamsberg smiled and waved at him. But he saw by the look on Gunnlaugur’s face that it was one of those bad days. Gunnlaugur came straight towards him. He gave the incipient fish auction no heed but frowned his blond eyebrows and handed Adamsberg a note.
“Fyrir big”, he said, pointing at him. (“For you”)
“Eg?” (“For me?”)
Adamsberg, who was normally incapable of memorising the most childishly basic elements of a foreign language, had inexplicably picked up a stock of about seventy words in that place, all that in seventeen days. People communicated with him as simply as they could, resorting to a great many hand signals.
From Paris, the message was from Paris. It had to be. They were calling him back. They had to be. He felt a sad rage and shook his head in refusal and turned his face to the sea. Gunnlaugur insisted, unfolded the paper and thrust it between his fingers.
Woman run-over. One husband, one lover? Tricky. Request your presence. Full details to follow.
Adamsberg bent his head down. His hand opened and let the paper fly away in the wind. Paris? What was that supposed to mean, Paris? Where was Paris anyway?      
A Jetty Image result for jetty

[i] Some people are needing revision of saxon genitives.
[ii] You wil find the Icelandic national anthem here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FkbXTDzKBc


If listening to podcasts is a good way for you to revise British history, you will find a lot of them on this blog. Just click here then scroll down and choose the ones that might help you.


memory, heritage, servants

This fascinating BBC documentary looks at what life was like as a servant in the grand stately homes which are so popular with tourists and TV viewers today.


Royal Family

This is an anti-monarchy documentary, not attempting to be neutral. It explores the position of the Royal Family in the UK today.

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.