David Pettersen’s research and teaching focuses on transnational and transatlantic aspects of 20th and 21st century French literature, film, and culture, examining the ways in which texts, images, and ideas circulate across borders with particular emphasis on the longstanding cultural exchanges between France and the United States. He has been principally interested in the role that transnational forms of mass culture can play in articulating and reimagining national belonging in France. His first book, Americanism, Media, and the Politics of Culture in 1930s France, University of Wales Press, 2016, shows how a deep and systemic engagement with American mass culture allowed a new generation of French writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals to re-imagine modernism for a mass public during the politically divided 1930s. He also recently co-edited a special journal issue of Écrans entitled Politique des auteurs / Auteur theory : Lectures contemporaines that was published in fall 2017 and that grew out of the first Pitt-Lyon 2 colloquium in April 2016.
He is currently completing a second book-length project, French B-Movies: Suburban Spaces, Universalism and the Challenge of Hollywood, about how 21st century postcolonial and suburban popular French cinema uses Hollywood cinema and American mass culture to visualize racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in a country whose republican universalism tends to hide such differences. His articles have appeared in Cinema Journal, Modern & Contemporary France, Romance Studies, and Studies in French Cinema.
For his research around French literature and cinema, his contributions to the expansion of French culture, and his work establishing a faculty exchange between Pitt and Université Lumière Lyon 2, Professor Pettersen was inducted to the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, an honor bestowed by the French governement, in February 2018.