Literature and Multimodality

  • Jeneen Naji
  • Ganakumaran Subramaniam
  • Goodith WhiteEmail author


This chapter examines the changing nature of literacy by analysing different kinds of multimodal literary texts—graphic novels, digital storytelling, transmedia storytelling—and showing how they are developing new narratives which are nonlinear, participatory, and gamelike. The writers argue that these types of text are more accessible to lower level language learners because the meaning of the text is delivered through visuals and sound as well as the written word. They argue that literacy now involves the ability to interpret layers of meaning generated by the combination of media types involved in multimedia texts, and the ability to understand how visuals and sound are involved in meaning-making is as important as interpreting the written word. These are also forms of ‘language’ which language learners need to cope with.


  1. Amazon. Available at or Accessed April 16, 2017.
  2. Atwood, M. (1996). The Handmaid’s Tale. London: Vintage. Google Scholar
  3. Bolter, J. D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Breuer, E., and Archer, A. (2016). Introduction: A Multimodal Response to Changing Communication Landscapes in Higher Education. In E. Breuer & A. Archer (Eds.), Multimodality in Higher Education. Leiden: Brill. Available at Accessed February 10, 2018.
  5. Bruner, J. S. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Callow, J. (2005). Literacy and the Visual: Broadening Our Vision. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 4(1), 6–19.Google Scholar
  7. Chandler, D., & Munday, R. (2016). A Dictionary of Media and Communication (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at Accessed February 10, 2018.
  8. Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2013). Digital Literacies. Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  9. Fleming, L. (2013). Expanding Learning Opportunities with Transmedia Practices: Inanimate Alice as an Exemplar. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 5(2). Available at Accessed April 12, 2016.
  10. Goldstein, B. (2016). Visual Literacy in English Language Teaching: Part of the Cambridge Papers in ELT Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at
  11. Hallet, W. (2014). The Rise of the Multimodal Novel: Generic Change and Its Narratological Implications. In M. Ryan & J. Thon (Eds.), Storyworlds Across Media, Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology (pp. 67–102). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  12. Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Jenkins, H. (2007). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Available at Accessed April 16, 2016.
  14. Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the New Media Age. Oxon and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Landow, G. (2006). Hypertext 3.0 Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Digital Storytelling—An Emerging Institutional Technology? In J. Hartley & K. McWilliam (Eds.), Story Circle: Digital Storytelling Around the World (pp. 252–259). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Memento. (2001). Directed by Christopher Nolan [Film]. USA: Newmarket.Google Scholar
  19. Mozilla. (n.d.). Web Literacy 2.0. Available at Accessed April 18, 2016.
  20. Palmeri, J. (2018). Multimodality Before and Beyond the Computer. The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric (pp. 27–37). New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roland, C. (2006, March). Digital Stories in the Classroom. School Art, 105(7), 26.Google Scholar
  22. Rose, F. (2011). The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  23. Run Lola Run (1998). Directed by Tom Tykwer [Film]. USA: Prokino Filmverleih.Google Scholar
  24. Strehovec, J. (2010). Digital Poetry Beyond the Metaphysics of “Projective Saying”. In P. Bootz & S. Baldwin (Eds.), Regards Croisés. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sukovic, S. (2014). iTell: Transliteracy and Digital Storytelling. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 45(3), 205–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sylvester, R., & Greenidge, W. (2009, December). Digital Storytelling: Extending the Potential for Struggling Writers. The Reading Teacher, 63(4): 284–295. Available at Scholar
  27. The BradField Company. (2005–2016). Inanimate Alice. Available at Accessed April 18, 2016.
  28. The BradField Company. (2015). A Transmedia Experience for All Students. Available at Accessed April 16, 2016.
  29. The BradField Company. Inanimate Alice [Facebook]. Available at Accessed April 16, 2016.
  30. Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills S., Perril, S. et al. (2007, December 3). Transliteracy: Crossing Divides. First Monday, 12(12). Available at Accessed April 18, 2016.
  31. Thon, J. (2014). Subjectivity Across Media: On Transmedial Strategies of Subjective Representation in Contemporary Feature Films, Graphic Novels, and Computer Games. In M. Ryan & J. Thon (Eds.), Storyworlds Across Media, Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology (pp. 67–102). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  32. Vaughan, B. K., & Henrichon, N. (2008). Pride of Baghdad. New York: Vertigo Comics. Google Scholar
  33. Vie, S. (2018). Social Media as Multimodal Composing. In The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric (pp. 115–123). Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
  34. Wilson, C. (n.d.). What Is Digital Storytelling and How to Get Started. Athabasca University E-LAB. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from
  35. Woolf, V. (1926). The Cinema. In A. McNeillie (Ed.), The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume 4: 1925–1928 (pp. 348–354). London: Hogarth Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  36. Yang, Y. F. (2012, September). Multimodal Composing in Digital Storytelling. Computers and Compositions, 29(3), 221–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeneen Naji
    • 1
  • Ganakumaran Subramaniam
    • 2
  • Goodith White
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Media StudiesNational University of Ireland, MaynoothMaynoothIreland
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia

Personalised recommendations