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Sidsel Boysen Dall

Sidsel Boysen Dall is a PhD student at NTNU in Trondheim, who is an affiliate member of the Baltic Peripeties group. The main aim of her dissertation project is to examine how participating in a shared reading group affects informal caregivers’ personal narratives and general well-being. Sidsel has a keen interest in the field of medical humanities, which is reflected in her education. Besides holding a master’s degree in contemporary literature, she has studied psychology at Aarhus University, where she encountered schema theory. She is currently working to combine schema theory and narratology in an effort to understand informal caregivers’ stories and to explore how they are affected by the shared reading of different kinds of caregiving fiction.

Apart from her research, Sidsel is a visual artist and has worked as an art and aesthetics teacher at a Danish folk high school.

NTNU Trondheim

Department of Language and Literature
Nordic Literature
Faculty of Humanities
Bygg 3,
N-7049 Trondheim

+47 735 924 06

Personal site at the Department of Language and Literature

Artist website at Home | Sidselboysendall

Shattered Expectations: The Construction of Narrative Meaning in Shared Reading Groups for Informal Caregivers

Although most of us will become informal caregivers at some point in our lives, we do not typically imagine ourselves in that position when we envision our future. The experience of becoming an informal caregiver commonly violates individuals’ expectations of what life ought to be like, both for themselves and the person they care for. In addition to experiencing disillusionment, many informal caregivers are exhausted from simultaneously providing care for their loved one and dealing with difficult life situations arising from the illness. This compounded burden often makes it impossible for caregivers to live up to their own and others’ expectations of them as carers.

The aforementioned expectancy or schema violations are prominent themes in contemporary Scandinavian literature about caregiving. In my PhD dissertation I will examine their meaning, aesthetic form, narratological function and the affect they arouse using a combination of schema theory, shattered assumptions theory and narratology. I also plan to explore the ways in which schema disruptions in Scandinavian literature about caregiving challenge and subvert hegemonic narratives around informal caregiving in the Nordic countries. These investigations will lay the groundwork for my study of the shared reading group for informal caregivers, where we will be reading schema disrupting caregiving literature aloud to each other. The goal is to gain insight into how the shared reading sessions affect the participants’ life narratives – especially their imagined future – and their narrative identity as a caregiver. In this way, I aim to shed light on the potential therapeutic effect of shared reading on a group of informal caregivers, who meet weekly to read and discuss contemporary schema disrupting caregiving fiction.

  • Project presentation at the 34th Conference of the International Association for Scandinavian Studies (IASS) Health and Happiness in Nordic Literature and Culture, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, August 2-5, 2023.
  • “Shattered Expectations in Caregiving Literature: Reflections on the Shared Reading of Schema Disrupting Fiction,” international conference Negotiating Peripeties: Change and Its Narratives, organised by the IRTG Baltic Peripeties. Narratives of Reformations, Revolutions and Catastrophes, University of Greifswald, in cooperation with the Alfried Krupp Institute for Advanced Study Greifswald, May 25-27, 2023.
  • “Shattered Expectations in Caregiving Literature: Reflections on the Shared Reading of Schema-Disrupting Fiction,” workshop Literature as a Social Resource, organised by the research group “‘Bildung’ in the Age of Algorithms” and the project “Caregiving and Literature as a Remedium” at the NTNU Trondheim, in collaboration with Centre Universitaire de Norvège à Paris (CUNP), CUNP, Paris, April 24-26, 2023.
  • Project presentation in the PhD seminar Litteratur og helse, Faculty for Humanities and Pedagogy, University of Agder, December 12-14, 2022.

University studies and degrees

  • Since October 2022
  • Doctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Department of Language and Literature.
  • 2017-2019
  • M.A. in Comparative Literature at Aarhus University.
  • 2014-2017
  • B.A. in Comparative Literature at Aarhus University.
  • 2010-2012
  • Psychology student at Aarhus University.

Professional background

  • 2020-2022
  • Literature, art, aesthetics and psychology teacher at the Danish folk high school Silkeborg Højskole. 
  • 2020-2022
  • Editor and proofreader of non-fiction books on psychology, philosophy and politics at the Danish publishing company Forlaget Klim.
  • 2018-2019
  • Co-creator of a social and literary Nordic Noir event held in three different venues in Aarhus.