This summer the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum partnered with Dr. Maggie Flinn from the Department of French & Italian here at Ohio State to offer a two-day, French-language workshop to teachers. Teachers came from all over Ohio (and even out of state) to learn more about French-language comics or bande dessinée and how to incorporate them into their teaching.

This workshop introduced teachers to the history of French-language comics and vocabulary needed for textual analysis, as well as addressed how to create language learning activities based in this kind of authentic text content. The historical background and vocabulary allowed teachers to create activities that both respect the artistic medium and meet the goals of the language classroom. Activities were designed to enrich language teaching from the beginning through advanced levels, including attention to AP and IB themes.


The workshop focused on three primary texts: Florent Chavouet, L’île Louvre (Futuropolis, 2015); Zeina Abirached, Je me souviens : Beyrouth (Cambourakis, 2008) and Abouet et Sapin, Akissi : Attaque de chats (Gallimard, 2010). These texts spanned various genres and illustration types and provided many opportunities for textual discussion and learning as well as offering many possible uses in the modern French classroom at all levels.

Teachers participated in university-style seminar discussions of each text to delve into their themes and layout. In addition to focusing on these texts, participants were also able to dive into the history of bande dessinée via a scavenger-hunt style activity in the Lucy Shelton Caswell Reading Room using items from the BICLM’s own collection. Teachers analyzed examples spanning from the 19th to 21st century to observe and learn about the introduction of comic form and follow its development up to current-day publications.


This workshop also provided teachers an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with what the BICLM can offer primary and secondary students.  Teachers participated in a guided tour of both the archives and the current exhibits in the museum and learned about how the museum and its online archives can support language-learning in the classroom.

Finally, workshop participants collaborated and consulted the materials on hand to prepare a variety of activities and lesson ideas to take back to their classroom for the start of the school year. After participating in the workshop, teachers left with an understanding of basic comic analysis and history and lesson they were prepared to incorporate into their existing curricula and units of study.

Special thanks to ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure for the generous donation that made this workshop possible! The participating teachers overwhelmingly found the session useful and plan to incorporate bande dessinée into their classroom teaching.