Meet the Team

Dr. Jane Lugea is a Senior Lecturer in English Language, specialising in Stylistics, the language of literature. She is interested in all kinds of linguistic creativity, from memes to metaphors. As Principal Investigator on this project, she drives the research into how contemporary fiction represents the minds of characters with dementia (see Lugea 2022). By applying insights from the cognitive sciences to literary texts and readers’ responses, she hopes to better understand the links between language, creativity and cognition.

Dr. Gemma Carney is a critical gerontologist who has worked on a number of inter-disciplinary projects which use methods from the arts & humanities to investigate what it means to live a long life. Gemma’s latest book, Critical Questions for Ageing Societies busts a number of myths about our ageing societies. She works closely with fellow Co-Investigator Paula Devine on the ARK Ageing programme. Gemma led our first co-authored article arising from the reading groups, exploring how fiction offers a way to understand contrasting perspectives on the experience of dementia, between caregiver and receiver of care (Carney et al 2023).

Jan Carson is a community arts facilitator and writer based in East Belfast who led the outreach for this project. Jan has published two novels, two micro-fictions collections and a short story collection. Her novel The Fire Starters won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland in 2019. Jan has run many projects exploring how people living with Dementia can access and utilise the arts. Along with Jane from this project, Jan co-facilitated the creative writing workshops and commissioned the short stories that make up our anthology, A Little Unsteadily into Light.

Dr. Paula Devine is a Co-Investigator whose research focuses on what the public think about key social issues affecting their lives, and making sure that research provides vital evidence for shaping policy.  She also coordinates the ARK Ageing Programme, which brings together practitioners, voluntary organisations, academics, policy makers and the general public to explore what it means to grow older in Northern Ireland. Paula brings this extensive expertise to the project.

Dr. Carolina Fernández-Quintanilla currently works as Maria Zambrano Research Fellow at the University of Granada. Her background is in English Philology and Linguistics, and her area of specialism is Stylistics (also called literary linguistics). Her main research interests include narrative, readers’ responses to literature, and the empirical study of reader response.  This is the area of expertise that she contributes to the team. Her role in the project is assisting with the methodology for the reading groups and analysing the data from the sessions.  

Our Project Partners: Dementia in the Minds of Characters and Readers would not be possible without the help, support and professional contribution of our project partners, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, Dementia NI and Alzheimer’s Society. Each organisation contributes expertise and experience which informs our fieldwork, research and analysis.