Marina Leslie


Recently there have been a number of young authors who have challenged the basic conventions of the novel by publishing books that contain visual elements embedded within the text of the work. In Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a novel concerning the aftermath of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, the events of that day are never explicitly mentioned, instead several photographs of the attacks on The World Trade Center are included within the text. Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated also includes many visual elements such as diagrams, and variations in font size. Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, contains an assortment of drawings and abrupt changes in layout and font size. Eggers' second book You Shall Know our Velocity features a number of photographs throughout the narrative. The existing criticism on these authors deals with the narrative approach and cultural significance of these works however there seems to be little attention paid to the visual elements they employ. By expanding their novels to include not just text but photography and drawings these works represent a major step forward in what can be done in literature. Also I will explore the affect these visual elements have on fully analyzing and understanding a work of literature as a whole and what new steps must be employed in addition to traditional methods of literary criticism.

Date Accepted


Publication Date



trauma, literature, graphic design

Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Rights Holder

Paul Carleton Atwater

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