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.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

agrégation anglais civilisation britannique dissertation/composition méthodologie: cours

 J'ai donné un cours de deux heures sur la méthodologie de la dissertation en civilisation, pour la question de la BBC. J'ai donné ce cours à distance deux fois, pour deux universités. Here is a recording of the best take.

Indispensable, à mon humble avis


Boris Johnson

 The UK Prime Minister is under pressure to resign. Here are two of today’s newspapers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Agrégation thème

 Cours avec Mme Vallée. Préfabriqué 1, 15h30

Agrégation interne yesterday's class

 You will find Monday evening's class recorded on MP3 here:


Last Saturday's class will follow shortly.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Thème concours blanc agrégation décembre 2021

I still have a few scripts here on my desk from this exam. If you want yours back, send me an email and I will photograph it.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Agrégation BBC Director-Generals and Commissions of Inquiry

As you know, the Commissions of Inquiry, and the arrival of  Director Generals, are important  milestones in the history of the BBC. You clearly need to know, at least approximately, the dates of the most influential ones (I say "approximately" because sentences such as "Reith left the director-general's post at the end of the 1930s" are completely acceptable.)

Last year, some smart student came up with a mnemonic to memorize the order of the Commissions of Inquiry. It went like this:

"Some Charming Student Used His Brewed Potion And Progressed!"

This year some student asked me on my YouTube channel if I had a mnemonic sentence to memorize the order of the Director-Generals. Since you don't need to be a historian to make up mnemonics, I told them it was their job to find one. But then I did make up this rhyme about the Director-Generals, which may be a little helpful (I didn't want to be excessively helpful either).

BBC Director-Generals 1922-1995

Johnny and Freddie and Cecil and Bob were the first chappies to handle the job…

Billy then followed, and Ian and Hugh, taking us up to the sixties: who knew?

Charlie then Ian then Alisdair and Mike ended the eighties: what’s not to like?

But let’s not forget the last one, John Birt; ther's just him and Mike now who ain’t bit the dirt.

As you can see, if I get fed up with history, the music hall is waiting for me.

Saturday, January 15, 2022




Thursday, January 13, 2022

Agrégation concours blanc thème: marking

I will put my suggested translation with detailed comments up here in the next day or two.

For the interne, I marked 13 scripts. The number of “points faute” went from 21 to 73. The average number of “points faute” was 50.3 .

For the externe (the longer translation passage then), I marked 7 scripts. The number of “points faute” ranged from 30 to 70. The average number of “points faute” was 53.7 .

Naturally, everyone would like to know what this means for your chances at the real exam. This is very hard to evaluate. This was a passage which is informal in style, whereas some students do much better with a more literary piece. It also very much depends on whether translation into English is your strong point, where you hope to pick up points, or whether it is your weak point, which you can compensate in other papers on Shakespeare or on the BBC.

If pushed, I would give the following  scale for the interne

20 PF = 16/20

25 PF = 15

30 PF =14

35 PF = 13

40 PF = 12

45 PF = 11

50 PF = 10

55 PF = 9

60 PF = 8 


Because there are so few scripts for the externe, just count how many “points faute” you received for the first part of the passage, up to “charges”.

From next week you will be working with Mme Vallée. I think it is good that you see two different approaches. I will be in the libraries, working on 1920s pop song and the death of the UK music hall.

You are probably used to the coding by now, but just in case

REG - error in register

LEX - vocabulary error

SP - spelling

CONSTR - construction

OM - ommission

Clumsy - clumsy

B- Bien

TB- très bien

CAL - calque

VN- verb needed

FS- faux sens

CAPS - capitalization error

PUNC - punctuation error

SUR - overtranslation

SOUS - undertranslation

PREP - preposition

ASP - aspect error

DEIX - deixis

NS - nonsense

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Cours agrégation mercredi 12 matin

 Le cours de Mme Bernard sera fait d'exercices et de documents écrits; si j'ai bien compris, il ne s'agit pas d'un cours par visio.

Le cours de  thème aura lieu à 10h30 dans préfabriqué 1. On corrigera le concours blanc thème.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Agregation BBC - probably the last video

 I have just put on line one more video, which is the second one on theory and key concepts in media studies. Don't miss it 


Sunday, January 09, 2022

MEEF : inclusion and diversity

 I have started marking your homework assignments. This will take some time: I will post detailed collective feedback on this blog in a week or two.

Meanwhile the story of that Bristol statue : breaking news. Four of the demonstrators were take to court for criminal damage. They chose to have a trial by jury, even though this meant that the risk of a serious prison sentence was real. They argued in court that the statue was a symbol of racism and that it was a duty, not a crime, to take it down.

The jury agreed with them. This is very much a historic event. Here is The Guardian s opinion


Friday, January 07, 2022

Agrégation next week’s class

 Next week in class we will go through the passage from the « concours blanc », not the passage from Becket.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Agrégation thème concours blanc Rouen

 Speaking of graveyards

Monster Mash (Lyrics) - YouTube 

Stagiares université Rouen-Normandie Cours de méthodologie agrégation interne, à distance

Ces cours ont été organisés pour les stagiaires de l'agrégation interne (pou préparer l'écrit - dissertation en anglais). Les étudiants de l'agrégation externe de l'Université de Rouen sont néanmoins les bienvenu e s.

Comme vous le savez, certains cours de l'agrégation interne doivent être organisés à distance. Les deux heures de méthodologie dissertation écrite, qui devait avoir lieu sur deux mercredis seront assurés à distance le samedi 15 janvier, de 10h à 12h.

J'ai envoyé un lien par mail. Demandez moi le lien par mail si jamais vous n'avez pas reçu.

I will be looking at aspects of the following three imaginary dissertation questions

- The BBC and Progress for Women

- The BBC and Competition

- The BBC and Modernity.

Some of you have already sent me work on one of these, and have received my comments (If you have sent work and have not received comments please email me now).

Please think about the three topics and how you would probably structure your answer, before the class.

If you have particular questions you can email to me before the class, this will allow me to prepare clever answers.

Thank you for your patience

John Mullen


Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Cours agrégation de cette semaine

 Le cours de thème aura lieu comme prévu. 

Le rectorat nous a informés que les cours qui sont spécifiquement prévus pour l’agrégation interne ne doivent pas avoir lieu en présentiel, au moins jusqu’au 24 janvier.

Demain, donc, pas de cours de compréhension ni de méthodologie demain. On vous tiens informés dès que nous avons de plus amples informations. Ces cours auront lieu à distance à une date ultérieure.