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Dementia Narratives in Contemporary Literature, Life Writing, and Film

BITENC, REBECCA,ANNA (2017) Dementia Narratives in Contemporary Literature, Life Writing, and Film. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis aims to delineate the affordances and limitations of narrative, and narrative studies, for the project of developing new ways of understanding, interacting with, and caring for people with dementia. Engaging with a growing body of contemporary dementia narratives, it investigates the potential of life writing and fiction as a means for exploring the phenomenology of dementia. In particular, the study considers the extent to which dementia narratives align with or run counter to the dominant discourse of dementia as ‘loss of self.’ In considering the question of selfhood and identity, the study highlights the need to attend to embodied and relational aspects of identity in dementia—as well as in the stories we tell about dementia. Finally, even as the thesis disputes the idea that the modes of empathy fostered by narrative lead in any direct or simple way to more humane care practices, overall the analysis suggests ways in which both fictional and non-fictional narratives may contribute to the development of dementia care—particularly to the ethical exploration of caregiving dilemmas. From a broader perspective, in engaging with dementia narratives across genres and media, this thesis demonstrates how ideas from literary narratology bear relevantly on current debates about the role of narrative in the medical or health humanities.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:bioethics, care, counter-narrative, dementia, embodied selfhood, empathy, film, graphic memoir, life writing, relational identity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 May 2017 12:04

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