Assigning “Rebel Ladies”

Pénélope Bagieu is a French illustrator whose graphic novels have received widespread recognition. Her blog BD Les Culottées (which was compiled into a book in 2018) provides language educators with engaging teaching materials for intermediate courses and beyond (A2 +). Each comic features a (often overlooked) woman with an unusual or inspiring story. The comics are short, interesting, biographically accurate, funny, and socially engaged.

I designed two assignments based on the life stories of Cheryl Bridges (here) and Betty Davis (there). In each case, I provide students essential vocabulary for ensuring understanding and assign a few questions as homework (see slide, below).

The discussion we had in class paved the groundwork for reviewing the present tense, but options abound. Maurane Crampe has taught logical operators through the comic dedicated to Clementine Delait, a fascinating French performer that scholarship has recently rediscovered as “the most famous bearded lady on the continent in the 20th century” (W. de Herder: 2019). You’ll find here a lesson plan designed by Fred Dettwiler and based on the comic dedicated to Thérèse Clerc.


Slide from reading/writing assignment based on “Betty Davis”, from Pénélope Bagieu’s Les Culottées.


  • Les Culottées, Des femmes qui ne font que ce qu’elles veulent, Pénélope Bagieu, Paris: Gallimard, 2016 (tome 1), 2017 (tome 2).

English translation:

  • Brazen: Rebel Ladies who Rocked the World, First Second, 2018.

As of December 2019, Bagieu’s blog BD does not seem to be available online anymore. 


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