Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Multimodal Communication

Ed. by Norris, Sigrid

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Multimodality, Cognitive Poetics, and Genre: Reading Grady Hendrix’s novel Horrorstör

Alison Gibbons
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of English, Sheffield Hallam University, Owen Building City Campus Howard Street, Sheffield, South, Yorkshire S1 1WB, UK
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-04-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2016-0008


Quirk Books, the publisher of Grady Hendrix’s (2014, Horrorstör. Philadelphia: Quirk Books) Horrorstör, portray the novel on their website as “a traditional haunted house story” but also mention that it “comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog”. Such description points to two generic foundations: the horror novel, which is manifested primarily through the novel’s literary themes and linguistic style, and the retail catalogue, signalled chiefly through the novel’s multimodal design features. In this paper I argue that in order to account for Horrorstör both as literary experience and as “sly social commentary” (as Quirk books claim), consideration and analysis of genre is vital. The paper subsequently offers a cognitive stylistic approach to multimodal literary genre analysis. In doing so, it presents a reading of the novel as a literary artefact: as fiction and as commodity.

Keywords: genre; multimodal fiction; cognitive poetics; contemporary literature; stylistics


  • Allori, P. E., Bateman, J., and Bhatia, V. K. (2014). Evolution in genre: Emergence, variation, multimodality. In: Evolution in Genre: Ermergence, Variation, Multimodality, P. E. Allori. J. Bateman. and V. K. Bhatia (Eds.), 1–16. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

  • Austen, J., and Grahame-Smith, S. (2009). Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.Google Scholar

  • Bateman, J. A. (2008). Multimodality and Genre: A Foundation for the Systematic Analysis of Multimodal Documents. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Bateman, J. A. (2014). Genre in the age of multimodality: Some conceptual refinements for practical analysis. In: Evolution in Genre: Ermergence, Variation, Multimodality, P. E. Allori, J. Bateman, and V. K. Bhatia (Eds.), 237–269. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

  • Bateman, J., Delin, J., and Henschel, R. (2007). Mapping the multimodal genres of traditional and electronic newspapers. In: New Directions in the Analysis of Multimodal Discourse, T. D. Royce, and W. L. Bowcher, (Eds.), 147–172. London; Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar

  • Baldry, A., and Thibault, P. J. (2006). Multimodal Transcription and Text Analysis: A multimedia toolkit and coursebook. London; Oakville: Equinox.

  • Bell, A. (2014). Schema theory, hypertext fiction and links. Style, 48(2):140–161.Google Scholar

  • Bengtsson, S. (2010). IKEA the Book: Designers, Products and Other Stuff. Leon Nordin: Slogan.Google Scholar

  • Berkenkotter, C., and Huckin, T. N. (1993). Rethinking genre from a sociocognitive perspective. Written Communication, 10(4):475–509.Google Scholar

  • Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London; New York: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Bhatia, V. K. (1997). Genre-mixing in academic introductions. English for Specific Purposes, 16(3):181–195.Google Scholar

  • Bhatia, V. K. (2004). Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-Based View. London; New York: Continuum.Google Scholar

  • Bhatia, V. K. (2010). Interdiscursivity in professional communication. Discourse & Communication, 21(1):32–50.Google Scholar

  • Bhatia, V. K. (2015). Creativity and interdiscursive performance in professional communication. In: The Routledge Handbook of Language and Creativity, R. Jones (Ed.), 158–169. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Carroll, N. (1990). The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart. New York; London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Cook, G. (1994). Discourse and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Danielewski, M. Z. (2000). House of Leaves. London; New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar

  • Duff, D. (2000). Introduction. Modern Genre Theory. Harlow: Longman, 1–24.Google Scholar

  • Ferrara, C. (2014) Horrorstor Book Cover. Call of the Small: …where small modern lives large. 14 June 2014. Weblog: http://call-small.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/horrorstor-book-cover.html

  • Fishelov, D. (1993). Metaphors of Genre: The Role of Analogies in Genre Theory. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press.Google Scholar

  • Fiske, S. T., and Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. 2nd Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.Google Scholar

  • Francesconi, S. (2014). Reading Tourism Texts: A Multimodal Analysis. Bristol; Buffalo; Toronto: Channel View Publications.Google Scholar

  • Friedlander, J. (2010) Self-Publishing Basics: How to pick the size of your book. The Book Designer: Practical advice to help build better books. Website: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/09/self-publishing-basics-how-to-pick-the-size-of-your-book/

  • Gavins, J. (2013). Reading the Absurd. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar

  • Genette, G. (1997 [1987]). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbons, A. (2010). “I contain multitudes”: Narrative multimodality and the book that bleeds. In: New Perspectives on Narrative and Multimodality, R. Page (Ed.), 99–114. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Gibbons, A. (2012a). Multimodality, Cognition, and Experimental Literature. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Gibbons, A. (2012b). Multimodal literature and experimentation. In: The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, J. Bray, A. Gibbons, and B. McHale (Eds.), 420–434. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M. A. K. (1989 [1985]). Spoken and Written Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M. A. K., and Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. Longman: London.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M. A. K., and Hasan, R. (1989 [1985]). Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language in a Semiotic Perspective. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hayles, N. K. (2002). Writing Machines. Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Hayles, N. K. (2008). Electronic Literature: Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar

  • Hayles, N. K. (2012). How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Held, G. (2005). Magazine covers – a multimodal pretext-genre. Folia Linguistica, 39(1–2):173–196.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hendrix, G. (2014). Horrorstör. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.Google Scholar

  • Henley, J. (2008). Do you speak ikea? How the swedish giant names its products. The Guardian, Online: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ 2008/feb/04/shopping.retail.

  • Hiippala, T. (2016). The Structure of Multimodal Documents: An Empirical Approach. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Hyon, S. (1996). Genre in three traditions: Implications for ESL. TESOL Quarterly, 30(4):693–722.Google Scholar

  • Kaufman, A., and Kristoff, J. (2015). Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01. London: Rock the Boat.Google Scholar

  • Kristoffersson, S. (2014). Design by Ikea: A Cultural History. Trans. William Jewsson. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

  • Lewis, E. (2005). Great Ikea! A Brand for All the People. London: Cyan.Google Scholar

  • Mancing, H. (2000). Prototypes of genre in cervantes’ novelas ejemplares. Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America, 20(2):127–150.Google Scholar

  • Martin, J. R., and Rose, D. (2008). Genre Relations: Mapping Culture. London; Oakville: Equinox.Google Scholar

  • Miller, C. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70:151–167.Google Scholar

  • Miller, C. (1994). Rhetorical community: The cultural basis of genre. In: Genre and the New Rhetoric, A. Freedman, and P. Medway. (Eds.), 67–78. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar

  • Nørgaard, N. (2009). The semiotics of typography in literary texts: A multimodal approach. Orbis Litterarum, 64(2):141–160.Google Scholar

  • Palahniuk, C. (1996). Fight Club. London: Vintage.Google Scholar

  • Paraboni, I., and van Deemter, K. (2002). Towards the generation of document-deictic references. In: Information Sharing: Reference and Presupposition in Language Generation and Interpretation, K. van Deemter, and R. Kibble (Eds.), 333–358. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar

  • Pressman, J. (2009). The aesthetics bookishness in twenty-first century literature. Michigan Quarterly Review, 48(4):465–482.Google Scholar

  • Puerolas, R. (2014[2013]). The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, Trans Sam Taylor. London: Random House.Google Scholar

  • Rosch, E. (1975). Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104:193–233.Google Scholar

  • Rosch, E. (1977). Human categorization. In Studies in Cross-Cultural Psychology. Volume 1, N. Warren (Ed.), 1–49. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In: Cognition and Categorization, E. Rosch, and B. Lloyd (Eds.), 27–48. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar

  • Rosch, E., and Mervis, C. (1975). Family resemblances: Studies in internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 8:282–439.Google Scholar

  • Rothstein, E. (2009) Typography fans say ikea should stick to furniture. New York Times 5 September 2009. Source: Proquest Historical Newspapers.

  • Semino, E. (1995). Schema theory and the analysis of text worlds in poetry. Language and Literature, 4(2):79–108.Google Scholar

  • Simon, G. (2010). Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar

  • Steen, G. (2003). ‘Love stories’: Cognitive scenarios in love poetry. In: Cognitive Poetics in Practice, J. Gavins, and G. Steen (Eds.), 67–82. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Steen, G. (2011). Genre between the humanities and the sciences. In: Bi-Directionality in the Cognitive Sciences: Avenues, Challenges, Limitations, M. Callies, W. R. Keller, and A. Lohöfer (Eds.). Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Stöckl, H. (2005). Typography: Body and dress of a text – a signing mode between language and image. Visual Communication, 4(2):204–214.Google Scholar

  • Stöckl, H. (2009). The language-image-text – theoretical and analytical inroads into semiotic complexity. AAA – Arbeitan Aus Anglistik Und Amerikanistik, 34(2):203–226.Google Scholar

  • Stöckl, H. (2014). Typography. In: Interactions, Images and Texts: A Reader in Multimodality, S. Norris, and D. Maier (Eds.), 281–295. Boston; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Stockwell, P. (1999). The inflexibility on invariance. Language and Literature, 8(2):125–142.Google Scholar

  • Stockwell, P. (2002). Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Stockwell, P. (2003). Schema poetics and speculative cosmology. Language and Literature, 12(3):252–271.Google Scholar

  • Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Typographic meaning. Visual Communication, 4(2):137–143.Google Scholar

  • van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Towards a semiotics of typography. Information Design Journal & Document Design, 14(2):139–155.Google Scholar

  • Walsh, C. (2007). Schema poetics and crossover fiction. In: Contemporary Stylistics, M. Lambrou, and P. Stockwell, (Eds.), 106–117. London; New York: Continuum.Google Scholar

  • Wehde, S. (2000). Typographische Kultur: Eine Zeichentheoretische Und Kulturgeschichtliche Studie Zur Typographie Und Ihrer Entwicklung. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-21

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: Multimodal Communication, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 15–29, ISSN (Online) 2230-6587, ISSN (Print) 2230-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2016-0008.

Export Citation

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in