Dr Debra Ramsay

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.