This paper discusses the visual literacy praxis of fifteen adolescents that arose from within a ‘grounded-emergent’ research design. Describing themselves as avid readers of graphic novels these high school students articulated clearly an approach to reading that was aligned to the notion of reading as ‘literary cartography’. For this cohort, the text was an entrée into the visual that allowed a straddling of visual strategies such ‘interiorisation of frames’, ‘resistant internal icons’ and ‘personal orientation’. In essence, these students allowed the visual landscape within and between the ‘gutters’, borders in graphic novels, to be viewed omnisciently, so that the visual elements such as vector foci such as horizon lines, gaze of characters and cultural icons appeared to act as literary landmarks. These visual forces provided the means by which these students could then navigate amongst and between what they perceived to be the representational code, both textual and visual, as well as manoeuvre between the underlying assumptions of the graphic map. Thus for these students the use of visual literacy provided them with a reflective ‘symbolic space’ that was engaging, existential and exegetic.
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