Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Multiculturalism and diversity : Oliver Letwin: Minister apologises after newly-released papers reveal 'racist' attitude towards black rioters | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Under the "thirty year" rule, many government papers - for example discussions among ministers - are only published thirty years later. At the end of December every year then, a series of assorted papers are published, and there are always some interesting or shocking revelations. Here is one of this year's, about what one minister said abut Black people thirty years ago.

Oliver Letwin: Minister apologises after newly-released papers reveal 'racist' attitude towards black rioters | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Master LEA December classroom test

I have started marking your classroom tests. About half the students are quite a long way below a master's level in English. It is very important that you listen a lot to BBC radio ( on any subject which interests you) and that you read newspapers. Try setting the homepage on your computer to yahoo.co.uk.

If you read and listen, your vocabulary and comprehension will improve. Your grammar, however, will not improve automatically. Be honest : how many students have not opened their grammar book all year? Read two pages of your grammar book every morning, that's what the doctor says.

More specifically on the classroom test:

1) contractions are obligatory in spoken English, except in very formal circumstances. You should not use contractions in writing, except in very informal circumstances (emails to friends, for example). No contractions, then, in university written work.

2) One sentence, in university work and often in professional work, should not be a paragraph by itself.

3) When you give in your script at the end of the test, do not give in the subject, too. This gives the impression that you are still in high school and completely uninterested in knowing the answers to the questions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thème agrégation: concours blanc

With it being the run-up to Christmas, I understand that quite a few of you coudln't get away to do the mock translation exam. Nevertheless, everyone should prepare it carefully before our next class on the 5th January, when we will be going over it. I will hopefully have corrected all the scripts I have received by then. Here is the passage in question. You are allowed to swear.

 Université de Rouen
Préparation à l’Agrégation d’anglais
Concours blanc
Décembre 2015,
John Mullen
Please write on every second line and leave a margin.

M. Tristani avait commandé l'apéritif dans la grande salle à manger déserte du restaurant panoramique, et il devait s'attendre à quelque déjeuner galant en compagnie d'une jeune femme qui s'intéressait à la fabrication du miel, mais Marie n'avait pas l'habitude de badiner pendant les déjeuners de travail. Dès que le maître d'hôtel était venu prendre la commande, elle lui avait exposé d'une voix décidée les grandes lignes de son projet. M. Tristani, dont les ardeurs s'étaient très vite éteintes, l'écoutait gravement, en hochant la tête, le poignet dans le plâtre, détachant de temps à autre maladroitement un filet de sole de sa main valide, puis, posant son couteau à poisson sur la nappe, il ramassait sa fourchette et avalait une bouchée d'un air douloureux, et même préoccupé, car, s'il avait bien compris, l'idée consistait à recouvrir un top model de miel.

M. Tristani n'apportait pas beaucoup d'éléments de réponse aux multiples interrogations de Marie, se contentant d'éluder les questions en esquissant un geste vague de la main avec une expression fataliste, et, reprenant son couteau à poisson, il se remettait à défaire longitudinalement son filet de sole, en jetant à l'occasion un coup d'oeil rêveur sur le quartier administratif de Shinjuku qui s'étendait dans la brume derrière la baie vitrée.

Il restait résolument perplexe, répondait à côté, ou évasivement, aux questions techniques précises que Marie avait préparées à son intention (agenda ouvert à côté d'elle sur la nappe, liste de questions, qu'elle cochait à mesure), sans jamais obtenir le moindre renseignement utile, à croire qu’il n'y connaissait rien aux abeilles (ou que l'apiculture n'était pour lui qu'une couverture). 

D’après Nue, de Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Editions de Minuit, 2015

The next passage for translation after this is the one by Ben Jelloun, and after that I will have provided you with a supplementary booklet of passages.

The Sun told to put apology to Jeremy Corbyn on front page | Press | News | The Independent

The leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, elected in 2015, has been harshly treated by the media. This story is not untypical:

The Sun told to put apology to Jeremy Corbyn on front page | Press | News | The Independent

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Popular Music Studies journal

The latest issue of the journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music is just out. I have a book review in it .

Vol 5, No 2 (2015)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Master LEA Homework

Remember you have till the 14th December.
In other news, I am told that our classes start again on the 5th January.



Many of you will know this journal issue on the Great Famine, in the wonderful journal the Revue française de civilisation britannique (OK, OK, I am the editor).

If not, check it out here 

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

My research

Someone asked me about my research : you can find a lot of it here :


Monday, December 07, 2015


99.9% of the time,  this word must be followed by a plural noun.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Multculturalism and diversity : racism in the UK police force

In 2003 a TV company sent a hidden camera into a British police force, and showed  frequent extreme racism among policeman. Five years later, in 2008, the same TV company looked at what had changed.

Here is the first part of the 2008 programme. It is ten minutes long, but it is easier to find part two on youtube.

Grammar "used to" "get used to" and "be used to"

Thie explanation on this page is not bad:

although I wouldn't myself have used the word "normal". "To be used to" is more to do with something not being a problem.

Of course you will have noticed that neither "I used to go" nor "I am used to going" can be used to inform you about my present habits as such.

"I used to go swimming every Saturday" (I no longer do so)
"I'm used to going swimming in crowded swimming pools". (This does not pose a problem for me).

from the British National corpus:

ACW 809 By now he was used to spending longer and longer periods alone, yet in that moment when she walked away he always experienced a brief sense of loss that made him want to rush after her and beg her not to go. 

BMW 12 At just over six foot, with thick curling brown hair and eyes that owed their startling blueness to his Irish ancestry, Tom was used to being the object of female appreciation whilst being slightly puzzled by it.

FRF 3844 He was used to being in control of events, not the victim of circumstance; even so, the situation intrigued him.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Revue française de civilisation britannique

You will find here, online and free, the latest issue, just out , of the Revue française de civilisation britannique.

The subject of this issue is the UK general elections of 2015. There are articles on the different issues in the campaign (housing, immigration, the NHS), and on the different methods used (youth sections, stage managing leaders' personal lives, etc). And articles on many more subjects.

Multiculturalism and diversity: podcasts

Master's students might find these recordings useful for revision. This is the talk about the history of immigration and multiculturalism in Britain. In MP3 format:

Part One is here (80 minutes)

Part Two is here (35 minutes)

Keywords: podcast, British history, history of immigration, multiculturalism, diversity, racism, antiracism

Monday, November 30, 2015

Master research seminar: multiculturalism

This week we will again have three text commentaries from students.
After that we will be looking at different explanations proposed for urban revolts ("riots") in Britain in recent decades.

We will be working from this article, so please read it :

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire | Actualités du séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire

Students planning to do research on the history of Britain, or just interested, will find a fascinating series of podcasts at the following link:

Séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire | Actualités du séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire

LEA MASTER Statistics graphs etc

Of course we can only spend a little time in class on such subjects, but talking about numbers is essential if you're going to work in.... universities or hospitals or banks or advertising companies or the media or... well, just about everywhere.

You will find here extra practice 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thème agrégation : emphatic forms

People still have difficulties with the differences between "I like Picasso" and "I do like Picasso".
This search on the British National Corpus should help, if you spend fifteen minutes on it.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thème agrégation : "contrary to"

People have difficulty with the expression "contrary to". As a general rule, it is not used to contrast two things, but to contrast one thing with its representation. 

CORRECT : Contrary to popular opinion, England has a rich tradition of folk music.

INCORRECT:  Contrary to English folk music, Scottish folk music uses mostly wind instruments.

CORRECT: In contrast with English folk music, Scottish folk music uses mainly wind instruments.

There are a couple of further nuances. Here is what I found in the British National Corpus:

Here is a random selection of solutions from the 1316 found.
A2M 230 Contrary to reports in Paris last week, government investigators working at the central police laboratory here have ruled out the presence of the Czechoslovak-made explosive Semtex, which caused the Lockerbie disaster.
A6D 246 The second reason why the homosexual is involved with difference is because, contrary to what the foregoing theory implies, she or he has, in historical actuality, embraced both cultural and racial difference.
A7F 642 Planning consent for a Center Parc at Longleat, Wiltshire, has yet to be gained, contrary to a report in Caterer (11–17 July).
AE9 763 In 1323 the Justices of the Forest were ordered to recall all the royal demesne woods which had been disafforested contrary to the Charter of the Forest: Henry Scrope, appointed Justice of the Forest north of Trent on 10 September, reafforested thirty-three townships in the Forest of Galtres alone.
AJC 5 The three women say this is contrary to the wishes of thousands of people who contributed about £3 million to help troops and their families who suffered in the war.
AKE 1183 Contrary to opinion, Gooch is a thoroughly happy man.
CB1 256 Submitting to ‘Be aware’, he attends closely to his situation and to his own reactions, and instead of trying to infer from principles how he ought to respond, discovers how when most aware he does respond, and perhaps surprises himself by an impulse contrary to social convention or to his own self-image.
CBT 2778 This would, however, be contrary to SSAP 24, which requires gradual rather than immediate recognition of experience differences, and does not discriminate between surpluses and deficiencies.
CKR 1060 His violent defence of the primacy, though it was contrary to all the forward-looking governmental ideals and interests of the Church as a whole during his later years, is his nearest approach to a consistent political policy as archbishop.
E9R 1061 Contrary to some critical comment, he believes that credit for obtaining substantial funding for the scheme should go to the Minister himself, for having taken a personal interest in the scheme.

Another short quiz on the history of the Irish republic

A short quiz on Irish history, to help you revise.
Only one answer is correct.
All the answers to these questions are avilable in the powerpoints which I posted a little while back.
1 Partition in Ireland left the following towns inside the United Kingdom
a) Belfast and Limerick
b) Dublin and Belfast
c) Cork and Belfast
d) Derry and Limerick
e) None of these answers

2. During the Second World War
a) Ireland  remained officially neutral but unofficially helped Germany
b) Ireland remained officially neutral but unofficially helped Britain
c) Ireland declared war on Germany and Japan in 1941
d) None of these answers
e) Ireland lived through a terrible economic crisis

3. The civil war in Ireland took place
a) None of these answers
b) immediately after partition
c) on the declaration of the Irish Republic
d) in the 1930s
e) between 1998 and 2008

4 British troops were officially sent in large numbers to Northern Ireland
a) in 1972 to stop civil rights demonstrations
b) in 1969 to protect Catholics
c) in 1969 to protect protestants
d) in 1998 to protect the borders of the UK.
e) None of these answers.

5 On « Bloody Sunday »
a) protestant demonstrators killed British soldiers.
b) British soldiers killed catholics
c) protestant police killed Republicans
d) the IRA destroyed the British embassy in Dublin
e) None of these answers

6 The « Good Friday Agreement »
a) won overwhelming support at the time in the Republic of Ireland
b) involved the British government finally accepting that Ireland should be united.
c) was initially proposed by the Irish Republican Army
d) was a religious agreement between catholc and protestant churches.
e) None of these answers

7 In 2005, the Irish gaelic language
a) became a compulsory subject in schools in the Republic
b) had an Irish grammar book published for the first time in history
c) could be officially used in European Union institutions
d) was for the first time spoken fluently by more than half of the population of the Republic
e) None of these answers.

Master's research seminar "Multiculturalism and Diversity". Text commentaries

You will find here a supplementary booklet, with two further documents. please read it.
These will be analyzed by Lucie V and by Lucile C in the last class before Christmas.
According to my records, these are the only two students without a document to analyze. If there are more, please contact me immediately by email. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Updated instructions LEA master second homework assignment

Because you have a lot of exams in the coming weeks, I am changing the date at which you must hand in the homework. You can hand it in until the 14th of December, by email. Your RTF file should be named "johnsmithhomework2.rtf" if your name is John smith. Send it by email to  john point mullen a t wanadoo dot france.

The assignment is not a long one for a master level course. However, if you find it difficult to summarize  the whole video, you may summarize the parts which you think are the most important. Re-read your work with extreme care before handing it in.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Racisme et antiracisme au Royaume Uni

Les syndicats ont été un endroit important pour le développement de tactiques et stratégies antiracistes. Cet article, en français, explique l'histoire de l'antiracisme dans un syndicat britannique:


LEA Master

We are going to be working a bit on statistics this week, and your test on 1st December will include some work on statistics.
Here is a link I recommend for a little more practice


Monday, November 16, 2015

LEA Economic and social questions in the English-speaking world: Revision

To help you revise for your test, here are the powerpoints on Irish history and the Irish economy, with audio.

On each slide there is an audio symbol, and you have to click on here to hear my voice. Each audio on a slide is shorter than one minute.

Celtic tiger Part one
Celtic tiger Part two
Celtic tiger Part three
Celtic tiger Part four 

Key words: Ireland, economy, Celtic Tiger, Powerpoint, podcast, history

Sunday, November 15, 2015

“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Master LEA

So, for your test on the first of December, you will need to have a good knowledge of the two themes we have been looking at, and be extremely rigorous with your English.

Here is a first quiz to check where you are at. There will be another one next week, no doubt. 

Celtic tiger quiz 1

1 The population of the Irish public today is
a) Four and a half million
b) One and a half million
c) Just over six million
d) Around eight million
e) None of the above

2 Ireland no longer has a monarch
a) since the partition of the island
b) since 1968
c) since the rebellion of 1798
d) since shortly after World War Two
e) None of the above

3 The percentage of people in the Irish Republic living in towns
a) is slightly higher than in France
b) is much lower than in France
c) is about the same as in Britain
d) has not changed over the last twenty years
e) None of the above.

4 The second largest city in the Republic is
a) Belfast
b) Derry
c) Limerick
d) Cork
e) None of the above

5 One cathedral in Dublin is called a « pro-cathedral » because
a) Catholics dream of getting back their original cathedral some day
b) It is a protestant cathedral
c) It will only be a cathedral for a short time
d) It is an ecumenical institution
e) none of the above

6 Irish gaelic is
a) Spoken by 83% of the population of the Republic
b) Used every day by less than a thirtieth of the people
c) The obligatory language in all public services
d) Almost the same as Welsh
e) None of the above.

7 The Irish president
a) Has little real political power.
b) Has only once been a woman
c) Lives in official residence in Cork
d) Is going to be abolished soon.
e) None of the above

8 The government of the Republic
a) tends to alternate between the two biggest parties.
b) must have its laws approved by the British government in Westminster
c) is most frequently a coalition between two or more parties
d) is not directly elected by the Irish people
e) None of the above

Friday, November 13, 2015

Leeward Islands

As I'm sure you will have noticed, I made a little mistake in class last week. The Leeward Islands which Voltaire was worried about were not the Leeward Islands in Polynesia, but were the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. See here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Leeward_Islands

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Multiculturalisme au Royaume Uni... et festivals de musique

La musique populaire a toujours mobilisé l'identité, que ce soit identité de classe, de genre ou ethnique. Cet article sur les festivals de musique "ethniques" au Royaume-Uni examine les liens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015

Master's research seminar: multiculturalism and diversity

We are going to start tomorrow's seminar by looking at some key concepts, and how they can be defined. Quite a few of these concepts are defined differently by different people, and their meaning is contested. This is unsurprising, as in all debates about how society should be run, certain terms are defined diversely. "Freedom" does not mean the same thing for everybody...

If you look at the concepts before the seminar, and think about them, that will help start us off.


Melting pot

Institutional racism





Community cohesion




Black Power

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Master LEA Economic and Social Questions in the English speaking world

Your semester mark will be made up of three marks:

- The final classroom test on the 1st December (50%)
- The homework you have already done, on the Irish economy video (25%)
- The second homework assignment, which is below: (25%)

Watch this video documentary: it is episode four in a four-part documentary about Black people in Britain since the Windrush. Summarize its main points (try to synthesize) in 500 words. Then give your personal opinion in 300 words.

The video is here: 


Of course, you do not get marks for having the same opinion as me! Most of the marks are for good English and clear expression. Always use spell check and grammar check software. Always re-read carefully twice before sending me your work - just as you would do in a professional context.

Send your work in, in RTF format, by email to me by the 3rd December.

L'histoire n'est jamais bien loin


Master research seminars

This article brings together the topics of the two research seminars I am giving this semester: the First World War and Multiculturalism and Diversity.

Forgotten role of Indian soldiers who served in First World War marked at last | Home News | News | The Independent

Friday, November 06, 2015

Newspaper Headlines-English

Newspaper Headlines-English

BBC World News - The East India Company, Episode 1

BBC World News - The East India Company, Episode 1

Master's seminar: text commentaries

Master’s seminar: text commentaries

As I mentioned, every student will do a text commentary on a document or speech. This will be invaluable practice for the exam, which will include a short text to comment (as will the other exam on the other seminar). We will be going over again how to do a text commentary in British civilization, which is firstly not easy and secondly quite different from in literature.
Remember to revise this page

and this one
and this one

For the method of the text commentary.  The main pitfalls are always 1) paraphrasing the document instead of analysing it and 2) explaining  the history of the period without referring in any detail to what the person who produced the document is trying to do.
Your commentary should last fifteen minutes.
Here are the dates and documents for each student:

24 November
“The Wind of Change,”  Chloé G.
“Rivers of Blood,” Inès N.
Summary of Macpherson report, Marion C.

1 December
“Chicken Tikka Masala,” Geoffrey D.
“A Golden Thread,” Pierre P.
“State multiculturalism has failed,” Arielle F.

8 December
“Doreen Lawrence’s gain is Black Britain’s loss,” Laura D.
“Stand up to UKIP,” Mohamed Anis H.
Extract from TUC Black workers conference, David S.

15 December
Lucie V.
Lucile C
(You will each be provided with documents in a couple of week’s time)