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Comics & Animation

sources for sequential and non-sequential graphic narrative art


Visual Literacy in Graphic Novels/ Comics: Aids to Instructors

The scholarly field of visual literary has been around for centuries, and the advent of graphic novels/comics has opened up new avenues of study for the scholar.  Graphic novels/comics have been gaining acceptance as academic resources necessary to understand the arts and literature of the twentieth and twentieth-first century.

Visual literacy for graphic novels/comics is the ability to simultaneously interpret, analyze, and make meaningful, significant, relevant both the images and written texts of this medium, and uses this amalgamation to create deeper, more complex, more exploratory, more comprehensive understandings of the themes expressed in these works.


General Information

Curtis, Deborah.  Introduction to Visual Literacy: a Guide to the Visual Arts and Communications.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1987. (Not at PSU - use Interlibrary Loan)

Lester, Paul Martin.  Visual Communication: Images with Messages.  7th edition.  Dallas, TX: WritingForTextbooks 2018

Messaris, Paul.  Visual “Literacy:” Image, Mind, & Reality.  Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994.


Teaching Visual literacy

Baylen, Danilo M. and Adriana D’Alba, eds.   Essentials of Teaching and Integrating Visual and Media Literacy; Visualizing Learning  Heidelberg: Springer, 2015.

Burmark, Lynell.  Visual Literacy: Learn to see, see to learn.  Alexandra, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002.

Crane, Beverley E.  Infographics: A Practical Guide for Librarians.  Practical Guides for Librarians, no.20.  Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.


Teaching Visual Literacy with Graphic Novels/Comics

Bakis, Maureen.  The Graphic Novel Classroom: Powerful Teaching and Learning with Images.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2012.

Frey, Nancy and Doug B. Fisher, eds.  Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2008.(Not at PSU - use Interlibrary Loan)

McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art.    New York: William Morrow, 1994.

Miller, Matthew L., ed. Class, Please Open Our Comics: Essays on Teaching with Graphic Narratives.  Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2015.

Monnin, Katie.  Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA {English/Language Arts] Classroom.  North Mankato, MN: Maupin House, 2013. (Not at PSU - use Interlibrary Loan)

Novak, Ryan.  Teaching Graphic Novels in the Classroom: Building Literacy and Comprehension.   Waco, TX: Prufrock Press, 2013.


Teaching with Modes and Multimodalities

It is difficult to understand visual literacies without knowledge about modes and multimodalities.  For our purposes, a mode is a visual or textual entity or artifact that carries and transmits meaning leading to the elucidation of complex ideas and themes.  Types of modes include styles of text, calligraphy, different fonts, photographs, paintings, drawings, charts, letters, menus, jokes, shortcut images, unusual page displays (e.g. borders, “speech balloons” that encompass texts or figures), and others.

Modes do not usually stand by themselves in graphic novel/comics.  These modes do interweave and interconnect with each other and create new and intriguing forms that bring about ideas, feelings, observations, and meanings that each mode by itself cannot suggest and pronounce.  These are called “multimodalities.”  Graphic novels/comics are often text, photographs, drawings, etc. in combinations that present and convey meaning and awareness to the reader/observer.

Bowen, Tracy (ed.)  Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013.

Jewitt, Cary.  The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (Routledge Handbooks).  2nd ed. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Press, 2014.

Khadka, Santosh, J.C. Lee (eds)  Bridging the Multimodal Gap: From Theory to Practice.  Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2019.

Miller, Suzanne.  Multimodal Composing in Classrooms: Learning and Teaching for the Digital World.  Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Press, 2012.

Serafini, Frank.  Reading the Visual: An introduction to Teaching Multimodal literacy.  New York: Teachers College Press, 2014.