Dementia in the minds of characters and readers

IntroductionDementia image

Dr Jane Lugea, a Lecturer in English Language at Queen’s University Belfast, has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Research Grant to carry out research on the potential of fiction featuring characters with dementia to improve awareness of and empathy towards people living with the condition.

This project explores the representation of dementia in contemporary fiction, using a cognitive stylistic approach to reveal how the minds of characters with the condition are constructed in language. Extracts from the fiction are then used in Reading Groups with four key stakeholder groups: people in the early stages of dementia, caregivers, trainee social workers and general public. The readers’ responses to the fiction will establish the potential of dementia fiction to facilitate awareness and empathy, as well as feed back into our understanding of the literary language and its cognitive effects.

The project benefits from the valuable input of Co-Investigators from the ARK Ageing Programme,

By appointing fiction writer and programmer of older people’s arts projects Jan Carson as Outreach Officer and by working with dementia charities and the Northern Ireland Museums Council, this project has impact built in to its design and delivery.

The project will run from May 2020 to October 2021.