Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Industrial revolution

An excellent BBC documentary on the Industrial revolution. Indispensable, and very interesting.


Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 29: online journal

The journal of Cook's first expedition is available online.
You can find it here: http://southseas.nla.gov.au/journals/cook/contents.html 

Although you need the Penguin edition, which is shorter, and which is the version which will be used for the agrégation exam, the online version is very useful because you can seach for any key word you wish, and this makes a thematic exploration of the journal far easier.

MEEF M1 Devoir maison

I will be giving you at this afternoon's class (remember it begins at 5.30 pm) your "devoir maison". You have until 15th December to send it to me by mail to john.mullen [:/at:/]  univ-rouen.fr . No handwritten work, please.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation 2020 option civilisation post 28 .

This website https://www.bl.uk/the-voyages-of-captain-james-cook/articles

Is on the British Library website, and gives you plenty of reading matter, from a number of points of view.

L3 Visual Art in Britain since 1945

You will find here the recording of the first class on visual art.

Keywords: lecture, podcast, visual art, United Kingdom,  Lowry, Emin, Moore, Hepworth, Bacon, Freud

M1 Writing the history of the First World War: introduction to historiography

You will find here (in PDF) an example of a historical article on the cultural history of the First World War. Not the sources, the corpus, the questions, the assumptions, the objectives, the methods etc.

Just click here

You will find here the recording of the first seminar on writing the history of the First World War - useful for revision purposes.

Just click here

The accompanying slides are here.

M1 MEEF Some British scientists

Isaac Newton Charles Darwin Caroline Herschel Mary Anning Francis Crick Rosalind Franklin Stephen Hawking.

The slides are here

And the MP3 podcast of the class is here

Friday, November 08, 2019

MEEF Revising British history

One of my colleagues has put online  a list of podcasts which might be useful to revise your British history and civilization (although you can also scroll back months and years on this blog to listen to past classes on different centuries which I have given).

Dr Brailowsky's list is here


Suggested translation: passage from Ikor

The passage translated here can be found in the booklet at September 4th in this blog. This translation will stay online only for a couple of weeks.

keywords thème anglais, niveau avancé, agrégation, exercice


One day the old lady forgot[2] to give the child her lunch ; another time, when she had gone out with her for a little walk, she walked past the house without recognizing it ; then, as Sylvia was tugging at her sleeve, she laughed very loudly, making as if she had pulled off a joke. But the child was not taken in. Then there were odd bursts[3] of affection. Suddenly, without warning, her grandmother would[4] catch hold of her, smother her in a hug, cover the little girl with kisses and then push her away[5] almost brutally. Sylvia, who was a very sensible[6] little girl, dared[7] not admit that she had sometimes been really scared, because you would[8] have to be very silly to be scared of granny, would you not ?[9] But she carried around an unvoiced[10] sense of worry. Apart from this, the old lady was just as alert and lively on a normal day ; people who did not know her well were forever enthusing[11] about how young she seemed…

Ludovic did not seem excessively[12] surprised. In fact, as Germaine had to admit[13], he had been worried for a long time, and she was the one who was refusing to look at reality. She wondered for a moment to what extent his hunger for travel was not partly due to a feeling that they had to hurry to make the most of the old lady’s looking after the child[14] while she was still able. It was a hateful thing to think. Germaine blushed and pushed the thought out of her mind, but this kind of suspicion is not so easily to get rid of.

“If you’re still determined to go off travelling,” she said, in a sharper voice than she had intended, “You’ll have to go on your own. I won’t be able to leave Sylvia with your mother any more, not even[15] for a day. I would be too worried”.

“Yes, of course.” Said Ludovic, without thinking.

What must he be thinking of, right then? The Verschoop family would love to have Sylvia stay if needed, they were forever blaring on about it[16]. If that was what he had in mind so as to cling on to his precious travelling, well then … Germaine was seething with indignation at the prospect. Even more so because that would mean leaving his mother with the Verschoops as well! Really! The sheer selfishness of this man, this spoilt child, was beyond the pale. He couldn’t…

“I was just thinking” interrupted Ludovic all of a sudden, “how we could talk Mother into seeing[17] a doctor.” [18]

[2] Remember the rules for anteriority are different in English and in French.
[3] There is nothing you can do with the word « crisis » here.
[4] “Would » is definitely the best option here.
[5] “Away » and not « back » because it is not a matter of returning to a previous position.
[6] Or « level-headed », but certainly not « reasonable ».
[7] You cans say « dared not admit » or « did not dare to admit ». In some contexts these are quite different, but here either is acceptable.
[8] Someone tried with DO reinforcement (You do have to be silly…) but DO does not give the right sort of reinforcement.
[9] Because in this sentence we can, I think, hear the inner voice of the little girl, a contraction might be, very very very exceptionally, acceptable (did you catch that this was exceptional ?). Be careful of word order with « would it not ?».
[10] Or « unspoken »
[11] Or « marvelled » (two l s in British English, only one in American).
[12] « All that suprised » is probably too informal in register.
[13] Or “had to give him credit for that ».
[14] Or « the old lady’s help ».
[15] Here we are in an everyday dialogue, so structures with « be it » or similar are too literary in style.
[16] A structure with « shouting from the rooftops » is good, too.
[17] « Undergo a medical examination » is not the appropriate register.
[18] Someone tried « health assessment » but that is far too administrative in style.

Agrégation : cours restitution mardi matin

Le cours de M Morel sera en A409.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

The Shock of the New

For L3, or indeed anyone who is interested. I don't know how much you all learned in school or at home about modern art and the history of modern art, but this TV series from 20 years or so ago is a very accessible introduction to the subject. Here is episode one

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 27: Controversy in New Zealand

Captain Cook is in the news, as a replica of his original ship tours New Zealand exactly 250 years after his first visit there.

This short news video shows people who are pleased with the commemoration, and others who are protesting against it, partly because of the people who were killed when Cook first arrived. This video also allows you to hear splendid New Zealand accents.


Notes for MEEF M1 students

First of all an administrative question. I have been informed that next week on the 13th , some of you have to go to a lecture at the ESPE. Because of this, the British civilisation class will last only one hour - from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. If you are also in my First World War seminar, I am afraid that this will go ahead without you, and you will have to find out, from my MP3 recording on the blog for example, what was said.

Secondly, I will be preparing your homework assignement and you will have all the information about it over the next week or so.

Thirdly, I was rather concerned that many of you do not know key dates in British history (in particular in connection with immigration). The 12 or so dates in the PowerPoint I showed you a few weeks are the absolute minimum, on this issue, which you need to know. Make some lists of dates and learn them!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Agrégation externe rapport

Le rapport du jury de l'agrégation externe d'anglais vient de paraître. Vous pouvez le trouver sur le site de la SAES


Most of the comments, and in particular the essay on the text commentary, will be also very useful indeed for those who are only taking the agrégation interne.

Thème class Wednesday morning

Since I understand you have an even more dense timetable this week than usual, we will finish my class on Wednesday 15 minutes earlier, just to allow you to breathe.

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 27

If you are on Facebook why not follow or join the Captain Cook society page?


L3 popular culture - theory part two

You will find here the recording of the second class on the theory of popular culture, including a discussion of some of the ideas of Bourdieu, Williams and Hebdige.

And you will find the slides here.

These  are complex ideas, and listening to the class again is probably a good idea. If there is anyone out there thinking of doing a master's dissertation (research or MEEF) on some aspect of popular culture, they would particularly need to understand this stuff.


L'UTLC (Université de toutes les cultures) accueillera le mardi 12 novembre à 18h Sylvie Octobre pour une conférence intitulée "Les transformations des rapports à la culture des jeunes".
Sylvie Octobre est sociologue, chargée d’études au Département des études, de la prospective et des statistiques du ministère de la Culture.

La conférence se déroulera à la Maison de l'Université. Entrée libre et gratuite.

L3 Popular Culture the rest of the semester

As we begin  this week looking at visual art in Britain since 1945, watch this short video which I will refer to in class.

(Just click here)

Here is what will probably be the programme for the rest of the semester:

5 nov visual art 1
12 nov visual art 2
19 nov music 1
26 nov music 2
6 décembre music 3
10 décembre: Devoir sur table.

17 décembre: summing up and indispensable information for the January exam.

Note on the classroom test 10 décembre. The subject will be either a short text commentary or an essay (une mini-dissertation en fait). You have only 90 minutes.
Because of the large number of people in the two L3 groups I am teaching, there are always one or two people who are absent at the classroom test, for good reasons. The only solution if you are absent for whatever reason, is to take the second session exam in June.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Thème agrégation

It is a good time to revise those structures where one person is involved in another person's action. Make sure you have grasped the difference between these random sentences.

Her boss made her have her hair cut.
Her boss had her have her hair cut.
Her boss got her to have her hair cut.

Some of the following are more likely than others:
I'll have my secretary phone them.
I'll make my secretary phone them.
I'll get my secretary to phone them.

He had his team have the flat repapered...

Suggested translation - passage from Aubry

The passage we were working from can be found on this blog in the entry for September 4th. This translation will only stay online for a couple of weeks.

Extract from “Personne” by Gwenaëlle Aubry, 2009

"As you know, I was born to a human father and mother. Neither they nor my sisters, then, have four legs, the head of a beast[1] or red eyes. Nor do my children. As for me, I also have a human appearance, if perhaps a little dark. I like grass but I do not graze on it, and I live in a one-bedroom flat[2] looking out on the trees, in Montmartre, at the foot of the Sacré Coeur. It is here that I am becoming conscious once more of how my life has turned out. Some things in it certainly escaped[3] me entirely, since I was not looking for them."
The[4] lines I have set out here are the first lines of a piece[5] called ‘The blues of the black sheep’. It counts almost two hundred pages written out in careful handwriting, with corrections and annotations from beginning to end. On the blue folder containing these pages, my father has written ‘to be novelized’.[6] He intended this to be read by other people – my sister and me,[7] to begin with.[8] He spent the last months of his life writing it, in the small flat we had set up[9] for him. He had a white, well-lit,[10] room on the ground floor of a modern building, which one arrived at through a passageway with a right angled bend,[11] at the other end of which was a kitchen, a bathroom and a wardrobe, and the back of which was entirely taken up with a bay window[12] looking out onto[13] [14]a tree-lined avenue. In this space, as in some hotel rooms, there was something impersonal and comforting.[15] As soon as we saw it, we knew that he would like being there, that fear would not reach him there. We filled it with   furniture and ornaments salvaged[16] from the auction[17] at Drouot’s. There was  a large bookcase holding his law books and boxes full of his papers, a couch and a desk, some worn carpets and an Empire console table. Then there were my grandfather’s paintings, a black-and-white photograph   showing the manor house in Britanny at Saint méloir des ondes. All these were relics of a dynasty of high up people[18] which would rebuild around the old man the scenery of a respectable, cushioned,[19] [20] life, lived at a leisurely pace. The psychiatrists allowed him to leave the clinic he had been interned in for a year. He would be able to begin living again. It was in this very room that he died, nine months later.

 Un console Empire

 Une Malouinière

[1] The context reminds us that it is not a matter of having « a silly head ».
[2] Note that « a bedsit » is normally a bedroom in a house which sports shared bathroom and kitchen facilities outside the bedsit. These are far less common in Paris than in London, and, in addition, a « studio » in Montmartre would probably be expensive and not have shared facilities. As we see below, this is not a « one-room flat ».
[3] Somebody tried « slipped my memory », but this is not the meaning here. « Eluded » is good – a literary word.
[4]  A structure with « These » is possible ; « those » is not correct.
[5] « Text » is not appropriate.
[6] Someone found « to be fictionalized », which is very good. « To romanticize » is something quite different, connected with love.
[7] « My sister and I » would be a grammatical error of a particular type , an example of hyper-correction. In this style, I think it is best avoided. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercorrection
[8] « For a start » is rather informal.
[9] Or « we had furnished ». « We had done up » is not bad, but may be too informal. « We had fixed up » is fine.
[10] This is far and away the best translation here.
[11] Someone tried «  an L shaped hallway » which is very good.
[12] « Patio door » sounded a little modern, but is probably correct. Note that you can walk out of a patio door, and not of a bay window.
[13] Note this is spelt as one word.
[14] A structure with « with a view on » is also good.
[15] Someone tried « characterless and soothing », which I thought was good.
[16] Or « saved », or « left over ».
[17] As all millionaires know, Drouot is an auction house for very expensive items. https://www.drouot.com/lot/publicShow/8796198
[18] Or « dignitaries » or « public figures ».
[19] I liked « hushed ».
[20] Or « slow-moving ».