A Toolbox for all Language Educators
A Toolbox for all Language Educators

Teaching French through Comics: Pénélope Bagieu’s ‘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 2016 and 2017, features a series of women with an unusual or inspiring story. The comics are short, interesting, and biographically accurate

These comics offer engaging learning material for beginner and intermediate language courses (“Novice high” and beyond on the ACTFL proficiency scale.) I designed two assignments based on the life stories of Cheryl Bridges (slides here) and Betty Davis (slides here). In each case, I provided learners with essential vocabulary for ensuring understanding, and I assigned a few questions as homework to guide the students and prepare class discussion and activities.

The discussion we had in French Beginner 2 at Hunter College led us to review the présent de narration, though options abound. Maurane Crampe has taught logical operators through the comic dedicated to Clémentine Delait* and Fred Dettwiler developed a lesson plan based on the life story of Thérèse Clerc.

* Clémentine Delait was a fascinating French performer recently coined “the most famous bearded lady on the continent in the 20th century” (W. de Herder: 2019).


Sample 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 any longer. 


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