Dementia Care Comics Presentation at the 2019 CSSC/SCEBD Conference, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of British Columbia

The Douglas College Dementia Care Comics Project is an extension of a partnership with City, University of London and Chester University that produced Parables of Care, a collection of four-panel strips in Yonkoma manga style that told the stories of UK caregivers’ ingenuity in solving dementia crises. The strips, drawn by comics artist and scholar Simon Grennan, were adapted from entries in City’s Share ‘n’ Care app for dementia caregivers.

Parables of Care was edited and adapted by Dr Simon Grennan (University of Chester) Dr Ernesto Priego (City, University of London) and Dr Peter Wilkins (Douglas College).  Parables of Care was drawn by Dr Simon Grennan with Christopher Sperandio.

Parables of Care is a project of the Centre for Human Comuter Interaction Design, City, University of London, The University of Chester, UK, and Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada. The project leader is Dr Ernesto Priego, Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London.

On behalf of Parables of Care, Dr Peter Wilkins will make a presentation about the Douglas Dementia Care Comics Project and Parables of Care in the 2019 CSSC/SCEBD conference, held as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of British Columbia, Canada, June 4–5 2019. The program is also available as a PDF.

The Douglas Project is based on interviews with professional caregivers and students from the College’s Health Sciences faculty and other members of the college community. One of our most interesting discoveries has been the tension between professional and familial roles in Health Sciences faculty who have family members experiencing dementia. Our team, which includes Nursing faculty, Student Research Assistants, and an artist, has evaluated these interviews for structures and motifs in the dementia situation and we have begun the process of producing pages.

While the earlier project was modeled on the literary form of parable, the Douglas project emulates Greek Tragedy because of the way the interviews reflect on the inevitability of dementia’s progress once it has been diagnosed and the stratagems caregivers employ to forestall that inevitability. Because dementia is a family systems condition, we cast the primary familial caregiver as the tragic hero and the non-caregiving family members as the chorus. The prologue and exodus, meanwhile, are delivered in the voice of an experienced psychiatric nurse who is up to date on current techniques of working with dementia.

Peter will discuss their process and decision making, the rationale for choosing tragedy as a genre, and how this relates to theories of comics, remediation and adaptation, and graphic medicine.

Dr Peter Wilkins is the Research and Innovation Office Coordinator at Douglas College. As a comics scholar, he is an editor at The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, co-founder of the blog Graphixia: a Conversation about Comics, and is the author and co-author of several essays on comics theory and texts, including “The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid” (with Ernesto Priego), and “An Incomplete Project: Graphic Adaptations of Moby-Dick and the Ethics of Response.”

Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from

If you work in a library, hospital, GP practice or care home- or care for someone with dementia in the UK, you can order a free copy of Parables of Care here: in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.

 

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