The Unseen Potential Behind the Graphic Novel

Graphic novels are popular with readers, but in college curriculums, they are often disregarded as “picture books.” How can the existing research and analysis behind graphic novels be used to eliminate this stigma, and contribute to including these books in our curriculums?

This project studies the history of the graphic novels’ stigmatization, and asserts the benefits of including them regularly in school curriculums. Because graphic novels descend from comic books, they have been stigmatized as “easy reads” for younger audiences. However, recent research shows that graphic novels are beneficial in introducing a different form of literary analysis through their usage of art and perspective.

Despite negative critical receptions, graphic novels can make a difference for modern day students because they can provide a different way for students to examine storytelling, learn history and ethics, and offer a new perspective for analyzing literature. Using both established graphic novels like Watchmen and Maus, as well as newcomers like Speak and Boxers and Saints, the project demonstrates how students can benefit from the inclusion of graphic novels in their curriculums. The project concludes that as the ever-expanding forms of storytelling grow, it is important to consider that the inclusion of new mediums, such as the potential behind graphic novels and how they can be used as a substantial medium for education, are essential for students.



Work Title The Unseen Potential Behind the Graphic Novel
Open Access
  1. Joel Burkholder
  2. Isabel Ann Barbera
  1. Penn State York Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishments, Arts and Liberal Sciences
  2. Arts and Liberal Sciences
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Poster
Publication Date April 9, 2021
Deposited April 09, 2021




Work History

Version 1

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  • Added Creator Isabel Ann Barbera
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