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Department of English Studies

Our Current and Recent Research Students

We have a thriving postgraduate community, with around 75 current PhD students, and many more MA students. The profiles of some of our current and recent PhD students can be found here.

Mrs Rebecca Bitenc

Contact Mrs Rebecca Bitenc


Rebecca A. Bitenc is currently pursuing her PhD in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. Synthesizing ideas from the medical humanities, narrative theory, research on life writing, and other fields, her thesis on "Losing One's Self: Dementia in Autobiography, Biography and Fiction" (working title) explores how, in contemporary literature, the alleged loss of self in dementia is expressed across different genres - with a particular focus on the ethics of literary form. She completed her M.A. at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany, in English, French and Psychology in January 2011. She has taught tutorials on “Introduction to Literary Studies” and “Introduction to the Novel” at the undergraduate level and on “English Literature from Beowulf to the 18th Century” at the graduate level. In 2012-13 Rebecca convened the Medical Humanities Postgraduate Discussion Group, and in May 2013 she co-organized with Dr Naomi Marklew the first Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference on “Understanding Human Flourishing.” This conference was sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, by Durham's Centre for Academic and Researcher Development, and was supported by Durham University's Centre for Medical Humanities. Rebecca’s PhD project is funded by the AHRC. Her supervisors are Professor David Herman and Professor Patricia Waugh.

Conference papers

“Neuroscience and Literature: Lisa Genova’s dementia novel Still Alice”, May 12th 2012, Two Culture’s or Co-evolution? Science and Literature 1800-Present, Keele University

“Life-writing at the Limits: Dementia in Contemporary Autobiographies and Life-writing Projects”, February 13th 2013, Inventions of the Text Seminar, Durham University

“Dementia in Contemporary Autobiographies and Life-writing Projects”, May 17th 2013, Understanding Human Flourishing: A Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, Durham University


Bitenc, Rebecca (2012). “Representations of Dementia in Narrative Fiction.” Knowledge and Pain.Esther Cohen, Leona Toker, Manuela Consonni and Otniel E. Dror (eds.). Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

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