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Dementia Centre Seminar

Thursday, 13 July, 2017


This seminar will be held at 11.30am in room A08 at the Institute of Mental Health - please see Jubilee Campus map https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/sharedresources/documents/mapjubileecampus.pdf 

Speakers:   Gavin Brookes (School of English), Neil Chadborn (School of Medicine) and Kevin Harvey (School of English)

Title:     Our biggest killer: Multimodal discourse representations of dementia in the British media

Dementia is now ‘the leading cause of death’ according to the Office of National Statistics (2016). Ever fixated with the newsworthy topic of dementia, the British press was quick to respond. Headlines referred to dementia as the nation’s ‘biggest killer’, while (re)formulating other aspects of the report in distorting and emotive metaphorical terms. We examined the linguistic and visual semiotic features of news stories as they portray dementia as an agentive entity; a ‘killer’ which remorselessly attacks its ‘victims’. Such a sensationalist and emotive representation not only framed dementia as a dreaded, devastating disease, but also, crucially, obscured the social context in which the syndrome is understood and experienced (not least by people with dementia themselves). Whilst it's no surprise that front page news stories are presented in stark categorical terms, it is still deeply frustrating and unsettling when the public is exposed to stories that lurch from one extreme of ‘scientists on verge of breakthrough cure’ to ‘terminal illness, no hope’ on the other. This emotive type of representation not only fails to address the ageist misinformation and common misunderstandings that surround dementia, but also exacerbates the stress and depression frequently experienced by people with dementia and their families.