"Liberté, captivité, en français" ("Liberty, Captivity, in French") is the title of Dr. Lewis Cusato's upper level course (FREN 300.3) in French that explores the themes of liberty and captivity in the 20th and 21st centuries through the analysis of literary texts, films, and critical texts in French representing the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), West Africa, and other francophone regions. Working with these texts in a close and critical way, students spent the semester sharpening and deepening the way they understand these notions, these regions, and these expressions, whether aesthetic or critical.

Contemporary Francophone Cultural Representations of Liberty and Captivity

Isabelle Ammendola, Matthew Gandee, Chevy Kelly, Meredith Richters, Ethan Soderna, and Adrienne Wentling

Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato


In pairs, students created StoryMap pages that take visitors through the literary or filmic text being analyzed. Each text or film featured represents the themes of liberty and captivity in particular ways in French. The site, at the same time a work of curation, translation, and interpretation, helps both English and French-speaking visitors understand the significance and intricacies of the work in question.

Visitors to this site will first encounter Henri Alleg's famous 1958 Algerian resistance narrative, La Question, a text that shocked the world when it revealed French atrocities in Algeria during the Franco-Algerian War (1954-1962). La Question is known for its simplistic, objective style, which lent power and gravitas to its content. Chevy Kelly and Isabelle Ammendola created this StoryMap with the guidance of Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato.

Next, visitors will encounter French director Jacques Audiard's 2009 blockbuster film about imprisonment and freedom, Un Prophète. The film was hugely successful both in France and internationally, and its emphasis on main character Malik's journey from prisoner to leader correlates to language learning and deft social maneuvers throughout his time in prison. Audiard's work uses light, dialogue, and imagery in compelling and original ways that add a sense of suspense and depth to the film. Adrienne Wentling and Meredith Richters created this StoryMap with the guidance of Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato.

Finally, the site concludes with a discussion of Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullman's visually stunning 2013 documentary about being gay in Cameroon, Born This Way. The film's relatable characters and extraordinary challenges wake viewers up to the harsh realities faced by many homosexuals throughout the world. Indeed, they must struggle daily to find a sense of freedom amid the many constraints their society imposes on them. Ethan Soderna and Matthew Gandee created this StoryMap with the guidance of Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Cusato.

You can access the Story Maps at this link:

Liberté, Captivité, en français