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Name: Emma Putland

PhD: Applied Linguistics

Departments: The School of English and the Institute of Mental Health

Thesis Title: Representing and responding to dementia: Investigating how British charities and the press portray dementia, and how people with and without direct experience receive such dementia discourses.


Thesis Description:

My thesis aims to examine, through combining a range of approaches, how people living with dementia, as well as dementia as a topic, are visually and linguistically portrayed in British society, and the impact that these representations can have. Using corpus and critical discourse analysis, I analyse how British charities and the press currently represent dementia, alongside working with focus groups to consider a variety of other people's perspectives and personal engagements. Throughout my project, I ask the following key research questions:

  1. How do British charities and the British press represent dementia and people with dementia? What discourses are popularly reproduced by the two social institutions, and how are these visually and linguistically realised?
  2. What kinds of relationships do these two institutions and their discourses have, and how are they perceived by different members of the public?
  3. How do my findings of dementia discourses relate to the interpretations, opinions and experiences of a range of different individuals, notably people with a lived experience of dementia, those who are carers and/or related to someone with dementia, and individuals without personal experience of dementia?

Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr Kevin Harvey (School of English, University of Nottingham) 

Dr Daniel Hunt (School of English, University of Nottingham)

Professor Tom Dening (Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham)


Professional memberships:

The British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) (in particular, the Health & Science Communication and Corpus Linguistics Special Interest Groups within this)

Dementia and Cultural Narrative Network

Health Humanities Research Group (University of Nottingham)

Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (University of Nottingham)

Centre for Dementia (University of Nottingham)

Stylistics and Discourse Analysis Reading Group (University of Nottingham)


Scholarly and Public Engagement:



          Organising Committees

Presentations and talks

Conference and workshop presentations

'Consult the public?! What combining researcher analysis and interviewee responses can help illuminate about media representations and public understandings of (people with) dementia'. Argumenting Health Communication in a Digital Era (University of Brescia, Italy,13/09/2019).

‘When Santa Forgot and Gina made Friends: Agency and identity in two British dementia charity video campaigns’. Ageing, Illness, Care in Cultural and Literary Narrative (University of Huddersfield, UK, 05/09/2019-06/09/2019).

'Ghosts, agency and cups of tea: A multimodal critical discourse analysis of two non-profit adverts’ contrasting depictions of experiencing dementia'. 52nd Conference of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)'s  Broadening the Horizons of Applied Linguistics  (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, 29/08/2019-31/08/2019).

‘Two heads are better than one: Combining methodologies to investigate current representations of, and responses to, dementia’. Institute of Mental Health’s Research Day (University of Nottingham, UK, 21/05/2019).

'When Santa Forgot and Gina made Friends: How two British dementia charity video campaigns represent people with dementia and are received by members of the public’. The Stylistics and Discourse Analysis Reading Group’s symposium Character Building: A symposium on constructing character and identity in real and fictional worlds (University of Nottingham, UK, 10/05/2019).

‘Exploring other people’s personal responses to media portrayals of dementia’. Image and Narrative: Illness, Recovery, Change Workshop (University of Nottingham, UK, 29/04/2019). 

 Public talks

‘Heroic boys and friendly girls? Comparing how LEGO© City and LEGO© Friends represent the world and children’s place within it’. Language & Emotion evening for Nottingham’s Pint of Science Festival 2019 (22/05/2019). For this Pint of Science Festival, I also collaborated with a local artist, Matt Young, who gave a creative reaction to my topic in the form of a painting titled 'Boring binary'.

Presented for 'New Perspectives' (31/01/2019) in association with the 'Harold Gilman: Beyond Camden Town' exhibition at the Lakeside Arts Gallery, in which I discussed my research in relation to two of Gilman's paintings for a general public audience.


Research Interests:

  • Sociolinguistics, particularly regarding how science and health are communicated to the public. Other areas of interest include gender and ageism.
  • Combining methodologies, including (critical) discourse analysis, multi-modal analysis, and corpus linguistics. I am also very interested in incorporating the views of other people (e.g. people with lived experience and other members of the public) within my research.


University email address: 

Twitter: @Emma_Putland

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