Research Projects

Literary theorist Gérard Genette launched the term “paratext,” and in 1987 he published a book that explained it in detail, solidifying the idea that nothing we read is paratext-free. All writings, whether in print or digitally distributed, are framed and shaped by paratexts, and each one serves a purpose. Decisions like the size of the text, the color of the ink, page layout, size, the materials used, and the wording of a title all influence how people engage with content. These are all paratextual choices.


“Paratexts are like sign posts for what to do with the text,” Professor Allen explains.

Artistic considerations are very valuable when considering the implications of paratext, but it’s also important to take into account how and where the text is written. Whether it’s a modern, mechanically printed soon-to-be-best-seller or a medieval, hand-made illuminated manuscript, paratext is embedded throughout, framing and shaping whatever is read.

Research Projects

Mapping The Margins

What’s a book? More than just a series of words on a series of pages, it’s a multisensory experience. Things such as the font, paper quality, illustrations, layout, and overall design all affect our encounters with anything meant to be read. 

What if we knew more about how our minds interpret what surrounds a text?

Insights Hidden In Plain Sight

We think a lot about how people access and consume content in today’s digital world, but rarely do we give paratexts the attention they deserve. 

What if religions saw aesthetic paratexts as doorways to new spiritual information?