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Staff profiles

Dr Debra Ramsay



01392 724250

I am a Lecturer in Film Studies in the Department of English and Film at Exeter (Queen's Building, 251).  My research interests lie in investigating the relationship between war, memory and media.  My work is interdisciplinary by necessity, and draws not only on memory and media studies, but also incorporates aspects of history, sociology and psychology.  In my work I examine how inter-connections between various screen industries, texts and technologies – primarily film, television and digital games - and their audiences shape the memory and understanding of war.

For example, my monograph American Media and the Memory of World War II (2015) tracks representations of World War II in popular American culture across three generations, with a particular focus on how the war is represented in American films, television series and digital games of the last two decades.  The impact of digital media on how war is represented, remembered and understood is a consistent theme throughout my publications, which include an article exploring what the First Person Shooter contributes to the memory and history of World War II. Past research includes work on digital transformations war memory and the archive as part of the AHRC ‘Technologies of Memory’ Project.  More currently, I am working on how war is represented in the British Army's Official Records of the two World Wars.

I teach in areas of film theory and history, with a specific focus on American cinema.

Research interests

My research falls in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, but I have a specific interest in the memory and representation of war not only in film, but across all media.  My work examines memory as a dynamic cultural system involving individuals and media technologies, texts and industries.  I draw on contemporary theories of media and memory as an ecology to understand those relationships, but my work departs from these by examining how mediascapes evolve through time.  The sociological concept of generations, and ideas of generational memory and media therefore figure prominently in my research, as explained in my monograph, American Media and the Memory of World War II (2015).

In other words, my research focuses on intertextual and intermedia relationships, and I have a particular interest in paratexts, such as trailers, posters and so-called ‘extra features’.  I have, for example, written about how extra features on DVDs shape the relationship between film and history, and on how such paratexts shape the understanding of television documentary.  The impact of digital technologies on the mediation of the past in general, and on war in particular, is thus a theme through all my work, and I have a particular interest in the role played by digital games, as can be seen in ‘Brutal Games: Call of Duty and the Cultural Narrative of World War II’, an article that investigates what the First Person Shooter contributes to the memory and cultural history of World War II. 

More recently, due to my work on the AHRC funded ‘Technologies of Memory and Archival Regimes’ I have developed an interest in archives and the concept of institutional memory.  

Research collaborations

I am completing work on the AHRC funded ‘Technologies of Memory and Archival Regimes’, which is led by Professor Andrew Hoskins.  This project investigates the impact of digital change on the organisational memory and preservation practices of two institutions, the British Army and The National Archives (TNA), with a specific focus on operational reports, or Unit War Diaries (daily reports produce by all units and formations in the British Army from World War I onwards).  I undertook an ethnographic study on TNA, involving onsite observations, interviews with staff and users, and designing and analysing surveys, and am currently collaborating with the project team on a linguistic analysis of the diaries and operational reports.  Outputs from this project include collaborative work with Andrew Hoskins on articles on the state of the field of Organisational Memory Studies, and on Organisational Memory and the Archive.  I am also lead author on a book (with Andrew Hoskins) investigating the changing nature of warfare as reflected within the operational reports of the British Army from World War I, World War II, through the Falklands conflict, to recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Research supervision

As my research profile should indicate, my interests are interdisciplinary and I am open to discussing proposals related to any of the fields I work in.  I would especially welcome candidates with interests in the following:

  • War and Cinema/The War Film
  • Memory/Nostalgia and Film
  • War and Digital Games
  • History of Digital Games
  • War and Media
  • Memory and Media
  • Generations and Cinema/Media
  • Audiences for Film and Media
  • New Media/Digital Cultures/Archives
  • Paratexts/Transmedia

I am also open to considering potential projects in:

  • Film and History/Historiography
  • Media and History/Historiography
  • Media Archaeology
  • Popular American Media

Research students

Chris Grosvenor (2nd Supervisor):

Title: Cinema on the Front Line. 

Chris completed his PhD in 2017


Alex Boutellier:

Title: Digital Disruption: Redefining Cinematography in the Virtual Age.

Alex completed in 2020.


Abhik Maiti:

Video games and literature, with an emphasis on Shakespeare


Pedro Talarico:

Yaruba Drums: Documentary about music, ritualism and liminality


Robyn Gall:

Authorship in Videogames.


Cameron Dewson:

Call of Duty and World War II: A Case Study in the Americanisation of Popular History.








Teaching is as vital to me as my research and I therefore favour approaches that enable active and collaborative learning on both sides of the classroom.  I aim to make lectures and seminars as interactive as possible, and work to create a space which enables all students to feel able to make a contribution.  I use presentation software that enables creative visualisation of concepts and that facilitates mind-mapping, to engage with both literal and lateral thinkers.  The core principle underpinning my teaching is to allow students to discover how film (and other media) might inform, challenge or create their perceptions not only of the world around them, but also of themselves.

I convene the following modules:

Major Debates in Film Theory (EAF1501)

Something to See: War and Visual Media (EAF3515)


I teach/have taught the following modules:

Shots in the Dark (EAF2502)

Introduction to Film Analysis (EAF1503)

Film Studies: An Introduction (EAS1034)

Modules taught


My PhD, a fully-funded school scholarship, was awarded by the University of Nottingham in June 2012.  I also hold an MA in the History of Film and Media (Birkbeck, University College London) and a BA in Dramatic Art (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa).  I have taught at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, and more recently, held a post as Research Associate at the University of Glasgow.

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