Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The British Constitution

 As we know, the UK doe snot have a codified constitution.

This has frequently led to disagreements and debates. Here is a very interesting debate on the subject

The failure of “good chaps”: are norms and conventions still working in the UK constitution? - YouTube

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Local elections

 Today there are local elections in Britain. The newspapers front pages are worth a look.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Nouveau programme agrégation

 The new programme of the agrégation - for 2023 - has been published this morning. You will find it on the official "devenir enseignant" page. 

Of course, myself I am involved in the history section, but I could not help noticing that Hamlet is now the set Shakespeare text. And I have to recommend this classic book about the play, which I consider to be a masterpiece and essential reading  : 

Amazon.fr - What Happens in Hamlet - Wilson, John Dover - Livres


Monday, March 21, 2022

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Friday, February 18, 2022

What the papers say

Visit this site briefly once a day to see the front pages, often colourful, of all the main UK papers:


Thursday, February 03, 2022

MEEF devoir composition S3

 En principe j'ai renvoyé à chaque étudiant e son devoir maison commenté, et il y a des commentaires collectifs ici 


Si par accident informatique ou autre vous n'avez pas reçu cette copie, n'hésitez pas à m'envoyer un mail.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Lecture on post-war Britain

 All students of 20th century Britain will find Vernon Bogdanor's lectures on YouTube useful. There are many of them. He is generally conservative, but broadly fair-minded and very informative.

I was listening today to this one, on the character of post-war Britain. Why the Labour Party won in 1945, how the welfare state was set up and what people thought about it. 

You will find it here

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

New, free online, journal issue about aspects of BBC history

 You can find it here 

27 | 2022 Censorship and blind spots: the BBC’s silences (openedition.org)

British Prime minister under pressure


Suggested translation M2 January exam.


PS: if you send me an email I will send you photos of your corrected work.

He pressed the switch on the lamp which stood on the bedside table. This filled the large, barely furnished bedroom with a dim light. He had no need to look at his watch to know that it was five in the morning. He woke every morning without fail[1] at the same time. He pushed aside the covers with a brusque gesture and got out of bed. The wooden floor creaked under his bare feet in the silence of the dawn.


He quickly got dressed, putting on a  tracksuit which was  lying on the quilt, and moved towards the window. The closed curtains allowed through lines of light and shadow. He opened them and half-opened one of the windows. These were automatic actions among other everyday actions which almost forty years of living alone had weaved into his life. They were some of so many automatic reactions which had become essential.


He suddenly felt dreadfully cold. Despite the hesitant dawn, the moon was still shining icily. The stars were going out one by one. The day was dawning to a sky heavy with milk-white clouds. “It is going to snow,” he thought.

Near the dirt track, he could make out the rocky foothills of the Caïros riverbed, the river which flowed into the Roya, a small waterway which flowed along the coast of France and Italy, and then into the sea near Vintimille. He could hear the bubbling of the water flowing across the dark rows of rocks. Its journey had begun higher up, 1900 metres below Devil’s Peak. Barely four kilometres further on, at the foot of Saint Claire’s chapel, the sudden drop in altitude turned it into a bold torrent. It rushed then down the steep slopes of the valley, polishing as it passed the rocks and pebbles of the river bed. Its impetuous waters pulled it to the River Roya, which it joined by the villages of Fontan and Saorge, 1500 metres further down.

That was where he had set up home, in this vallée of Caïros. The tiny hamlet of only a few scattered houses sat on the left bank of the valley, on an ever sunlit stretch overlooked by the Ceva Plateau. It was wonderful.[2] 

[1] Always a good idea to avoid latinate words like « invariably ».

[2] We avoid sentences without verbs.

Journée d'étude Black Lives Matter: on peut suivre gratuitement en ligne


Le vendredi 4 février 2022, se tiendra à Montpellier une journée d’étude sur le thème “Black Lives Matter : formes politiques et artistiques de l’antiracisme aux Etats-Unis et au Royaume-Uni”, dont vous trouverez le programme ci-dessous. 

Cette manifestation, en accès libre, se tiendra sur le campus Saint-Charles de l’Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (UPVM3), salle des colloques n°2. Il sera possible de suivre les interventions en visioconférence: https://univ-montp3-fr.zoom.us/j/96284093112?pwd=b0xwWEcvM1QxUkFEQWJmSTJGRlROZz09

Cette journée d’étude s’inscrit dans le cadre des activités du thème “Faire commun” du laboratoire EMMA, dont des membres proposeront des interventions sur la production artistique liée au mouvement Black Lives Matter, sur le traitement de la question des vies noires dans les formats sériel et filmique et enfin sur l’inscription du mouvement dans l’espace anglophone transatlantique. Faisant suite à la séance de séminaire “De Black Lives Matter au renouveau afro-féministe : voix noires contemporaines aux États-Unis et au Royaume-Uni” du 19 janvier 2021, cette journée d’étude servira aussi de prélude et de journée préparatoire à un colloque organisé à Montpellier en 2023.


En voici le programme :

9h15 ouverture (Sandrine Sorlin, co-directrice d'EMMA) et introduction

Session 1 (modération: Niaz Pernon, ENSCM, EMMA)

9h30 Nicolas Gachon (UPVM3, EMMA), « Mouvements sociaux et espace public : le cas Black Lives Matter »

10h10 Marc Lenormand (UPVM3, EMMA), « Les manifestations antiracistes de 2020 au Royaume-Uni: référence états-unienne et séquence britannique »

10h50 pause

11h20 Lawrence Aje (UPVM3, EMMA), « Entre reconnaissance et effacement : la mémorialisation publique de l’esclavage aux États-Unis, 2000-2021 »

12h00 discussion

12h30 pause méridienne

Session 2 (modération: Raphaël Ricaud, UPVM3, EMMA)

14h00 Claude Chastagner (UPVM3, EMMA), « Black Lives Matter, un nouveau terrain pour la protest song ? »

14h40 Claudine Raynaud (UPVM3, EMMA), « Memoirs from #BLM era »

15h20 pause

Session 3 (modération: Manon Lefebvre et Monica Michlin, UPVM3, EMMA)

15h50 Marianne Drugeon (UPVM3, EMMA), « From Confrontation to Healing: in-yer-heart and in-yer-ear in debbie tucker green's ear for eye and Selina Thompson's salt. »

16h30 Hervé Mayer (UPVM3, EMMA), « Black Bodies/White Spaces: the Horrors of White Supremacy in Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) »

17h10 discussion

Saturday, January 22, 2022


Like many people, I have been considerably slowed down by the covid situation, so thank you for your patience. 

PS: I forgot to mention below the photos. Almost nobody described the photos. How is Colton dressed, what kind of street was his statue on, does the statue seem to be glorifying him? What kind of people do we see in the photo of the demonstration? Young, old, black, white? What are they doing? What attitudes are they showing? Etc .

Some feedback MEEF devoir maison

The story of the Bristol statue continues. See here 



The aim of the exercise is to show

- your English is good

- you understand both the explicit and implicit meanings of the documents

- you have a good knowledge of inclusion and diversity questions in Britain over the last century.

You must prove all three of these things. So if you do not give any examples of other antiracist activity or laws not mentioned in the documents, or other conversations about commemoration not mentioned in the documents, you have not demonstrated the third element.

A few important points:

  1. When presenting the documents, move straight onto elements which help in the interpretation. It is far better to write 

The third document is an indignant article from the very popular conservative newspaper, the Daily Mail. It uses very negative vocabulary concerning the Bristol demonstrators, calling them a “mob”.

Rather than

The third document is an article from the Daily Mail website, published on 3rd June 2021. The title is “[quotes complete headline].

It is far better to write

In the third photograph, the statue has been rescued from the river by the local authorities, thought it has not been cleaned, and is displayed horizontally in a museum.

Rather than

The third photograph shows the statue in a museum.

The first photo shows a statue of Colton, finely dressed, on a pedestal in a city avenue. 

  1. The centre of your work is the documents, what they are trying to do. The centre is not as such anti racism, British history or multiculturalism. The structure you announce will show this. 

This is good: First I will look at what the documents show about commemoration acts, then I will explore the strong feelings often involved in the national conversation around commemoration and racism….

  1. It is very important to think about the intentions and objectives of the different people and organizations involved. The documents are, or illustrate, attempts to change something or stop something changing. They do not simply portray or depict political events.

What were the objectives of 

Those who put up the original statue

Those who pulled it down

Bristol council

The museum

The artist who put up the alternative statue

The makers of the website with a lesson plan about Cable Street

The Daily Mail

Now, these intentions may not be easy to identify, which is why “hedging” is essential: that is, expressing uncertainty and probability. Here are some good  examples:

The museum may be trying to encourage debate about the statue.

The artist is probably hoping to get a message across about what role models he would prefer to be celebrated with public statues.

The local government, when they pulled the statue out of the river, may have been worried about the reaction of some local voters if they did nothing. The Bristol community must have been divided on this question.

The webmasters may well be hoping to encourage history teachers to include the events of Cable St in their lessons, since it is often forgotten.

The Daily Mail seems to be denouncing what they take to be the disrespect shown to Colton’s statue both by the demonstrators and by the museum, although for the sake of balance they also quote sympathizers of the demonstrators.

British context

These two conversations: how to deal, in history classes, with the events of Cable Street and what to do with statues which were erected a long time ago but celebrate people who are contested by antiracists today, take place in a context. 

When doing this kind of exercise, one of the most important questions is “How typical are the events, opinions and attitudes shown in the documents”. This question allows you to show you know lots of examples *which are not in the documents *, which is essential.

Recent laws in Britain have tried to reduce racism at work by making it an obligation of public bodies to fight indirect discrimination by “promoting racial equality”, a particularly British approach. A specific law was brought in to oppose religious discrimination, especially islamophobia. The Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Bristol can be seen as wanting to go further, and look at discrimination in symbolic public spaces.

At the same time, over the last twenty years, governments, in particularly Conservative governments, have been commenting negatively on multiculturalism, suggesting it causes separatism, or even that it was one of the causes of jihadist terrorism ( three of the four terrorists in the terrible 2005 attacks, which killed 52 people, were born and bred in England. Governments, partly responding to racist sentiment, have said that the most important thing is “community cohesion” and have introduced reforms such as the UK Citizenship test, allegedly to encourage such cohesion.

The referendum which led to the UK leaving the European Union involved significant amounts of anti immigrant campaigning, in particular by Nigel Farage.

So, we have a situation where both moves against racism and negative feelings about immigration are very much present.

Friday, January 21, 2022

agrégation anglais civilisation britannique méthodologie commentaire

 The commentary exercise, for the agrégation interne, is only required at the oral exams (and so, not next week).  Of course, if you are enrolled for the agrégation externe, this exercise is present at the written exams.

I gave this class for a group of agrégatifs who are not at Rouen, but I think you will find it useful (to listen to in February or March!)


It only remains for me to wish you the best of luck with the exams next week.