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Dr Becca Harrison

A white woman with long dark hair stands on a cobbled lane. The stone buildings around her form an archway overhead. She is wearing a long coat and boots.

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University as a film and media historian in July 2021. Previously, I lectured at the University of Glasgow, the University of East Anglia, and at UCL, where I completed my PhD in Film Studies. Additionally, I have industry experience as a festival director and film critic. Throughout my career I've learned the importance of striving for equitable conditions for people marginalised by factors such as gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability, and this informs my approach to research and teaching. My pronouns are she/her/hers. 

Research interests

My research is broadly interested in histories of material and visual culture in the UK and USA from the nineteenth century onward. In particular, I'm excited by feminist and interdisciplinary approaches that help us understand the production, exhibition, and reception of media artefacts, as well as how identity and power inform people's relationships with technology. For example, my first monograph, From Steam to Screen (2018), revealed how cinema and the railways shaped experiences of modernity and empire in Britain by transforming how people moved through and looked at the world around them. Currently, I'm conducting research for a project that uncovers how the Star Wars franchise is embedded in both the history of computation and the military-industrial complex. My second monograph, BFI Film Classics: The Empire Strikes Back (2020), contributed to this ongoing work. 

Alongside my archival projects, I am invested in research that poses methodological questions (especially related to subjectivity, power, and archives) and/or that engages with onscreen representation (including of gender, class, queerness, disability, and race). 

Teaching interests

I am contributing to new teaching resources in Film and Media, and I'm also interested in topics that include: film history/theory; material and visual culture; space, place, and the environment; gender and queer histories/theory; curation; media in wartime and colonial contexts; writing practices. 

Impact and engagement

I share research at national and international events, and contribute to discussions about film and other entertainment media on television and radio (BBC Scotland, STV, Radio 4, CBC, etc.). My writing about film and media appears in a variety of outlets including Sight & Sound, LA Review of Books, The Mary Sue, and MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture.

I've organised various screenings and arts events through Glasgow Feminist Arts Festival, which I established in 2018, and have acted as a historical consultant for both local and national organisations. 

External collaborations

I am a contributing editor for MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture and special issues editor for Early Popular Visual Culture. From 2018 to 2022 I am co-chair of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Gender and Feminisms Caucus. 

Further to my academic collaborations, I've worked with a range of organisations (The 1752 Group, UCU, and Rape Crisis Glasgow and Clyde, among others) to affect change in how the sector responds to gender-based violence. 

I am part of a network that includes scholars, activists and NGOs working to support Zapatista communities in Mexico in their endeavours to respond to and record the effects of the climate emergency. 


Mabel, Marilyn, and Me: Writing about Mabel Normand as a Feminist Film Historian (2021)
Harrison, Rebecca
Early Popular Visual Culture ((In Press))

Gender, Race, and Representation in the Star Wars Franchise: An Introduction (2019)
Harrison, Rebecca
Media Education Journal, 65(2) (pp. 16-19)

Fuck the Canon (or, How Do You Solve a Problem Like von Trier?): Teaching, Screening, and Writing About Cinema in the Age of #MeToo (2018-12)
Harrison, Rebecca
MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture, 1(2)

Toward a History of Women Projectionists in Post-war British Cinemas (2018-01)
Richard, Wallace; Harrison, Rebecca and Brunsdon, Charlotte
Journal of British Cinema and Television, 15(1) (pp. 46-65)

The Coming of the Projectionettes: Women’s Work in Film Projection and Changing Modes of Spectatorship in Second World War British Cinemas (2016-04-01)
Harrison, Rebecca
Feminist Media Histories, 2(2) (pp. 47-70)

Writing History on the Page and Screen: Mediating Conflict through Britain’s First World War Ambulance Trains (2015)
Harrison, Rebecca
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 35(4) (pp. 559-578)

Inside the Cinema Train: Britain, Empire and Modernity in the Twentieth Century (2014)
Harrison, Rebecca
Film History, 26(4) (pp. 32-57)

Haunted screens and spiritual scenes: film as a medium in the cinema of Carl Theodor Dreyer (2009-07-31)
Harrison, Rebecca
Scandinavica, 48(1) (pp. 31-43)

The Empire Strikes Back (2020-10-29)
Harrison, Rebecca
BFI Film Classics
ISBN : 9781911239970 | Publisher : Bloomsbury

From Steam to Screen: Cinema, the Railways and Modernity (2018-03-22)
Harrison, Rebecca
Cinema and Society
ISBN : 9781784539153 | Publisher : I B Tauris | Published : London