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Most of the definitions I have found for the word literature basically define it as written material. Some graphic novels contain words but that is not a requirement.

Can graphic novels be considered literature?

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    What is the definition of literature?
    – Good A.M.
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:27
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    Yes, certainly as much as ungraphic novels. That is, it varies; some are, some aren't. Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:29
  • As taken from the first result given when entered on Google "written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit."
    – user8028
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:29
  • Graphic novel: term graphic novel grows out of what might be considered American and British cultural prejudices. No equivalent term is required in continental Europe or in Japan, where the acceptance of comics as both an art form and a literary mode is unproblematic. britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1020959/graphic-novel
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:37
  • It wasn't Einstein who postulated the equivalence of pictures and the written word, and apparently it wasn't Frederick Barnard either (though it might have been Turgenev). Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:50

3 Answers 3

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Can graphic novels be considered literature?

Can they?

Demonstrably yes. Google your question, and that's what you find pretty immediately. In fact, Encyclopedia Britannica even has the "Graphic Novel" article filed under "Literature". And as this article points out, at least one author has won a Pulitzer prize (a prestigious literary award) for their graphic novel.

A more apt question would probably be "Would most people consider them literature?", which is somewhat more difficult to decide without an actual vote. That being said, the very fact that my gut feeling is "there would need to be a vote" probably means the true answer is "no".

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Surely you'll have great fun with this:

Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide to Comics ... By Robert G. Weiner

  1. Graphic Novels and Literature. Then and Now.
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Yes.

Some can even be considered good literature.

Once in a blue moon one even wins a literary prize!

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