Expanding the Map of the Literary Canon Through Multimodal Texts

Reference work entry


This chapter argues for an expansion of the literary canon, the set of texts alleged to mark the intellectual and aesthetic standards of literature. The canon has long been exclusionary and reactionary, engaged in its own preservation. Though entrenched in high schools in the United States, the literary canon has seen slippage in universities since the 1960s, splintering into micro-canons: women’s studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, among many other fields of inquiry, each field carving out its own defining texts. To date, these texts have been almost exclusively printed editions, though recently the canon has accepted comics, a multimodal medium, into the fold, for example, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. The chapter authors tap the theory of multimodality to propose a revised geography of the canon. This revised geography is not to replace the canon writ large but to add topographical detail that is inclusive of a wider range of texts, print and digital.


Graphic novel Canonical literature Visual literacy Multimodal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jeannine Rainbolt College of EducationUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.East Central UniversityAdaUSA

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