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A generalized modal expansion theory is presented to investigate and illustrate the physics of wave-matter interaction within arbitrary two-dimensional (2-D) bounded and unbounded electromagnetic problems. We start with the bounded case where the field excited by any sources is expanded with a complete set of biorthogonal eigenmodes. In regard to non-Hermitian or nonreciprocal problems, an auxiliary system is constructed to seek for the modal-expansion solution. We arrive at the unbounded case when the boundary tends to infinity or is replaced by the perfectly matched layer (PML). Modes are approximately categorized into two types: trapped modes and radiation modes, which respond differently to environment variations. When coupled with the source, these modes contribute to the modal-expansion solution with different weights, which leads to a reduced modal representation of the excited field in some geometries.