James Petterson

Professor Emeritus of French and Francophone Studies

Engaged in studying French poetry in its relation to contemporary French, philosophy, aesthetics, and intellectual history.

The bulk of my scholarship in 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century French poetry can be divided into several interdisciplinary areas: poetry and intellectual history; aesthetics and ideology; and poetry and law. These areas of interest are central to my first two books, Postwar Figures of L'Ephémère: Yves Bonnefoy, Louis-René des Forêts, Jacques Dupin, André du Bouchet, and Poetry Proscribed: Twentieth-Century (Re)Visions of the Trials of Poetry in France. A similar preoccupation with an interdisciplinary approach to French poetry runs through my latest book project, provisionally titled "Dominique Fourcade: Tout Arrive."

I teach intermediate and upper-intermediate language and literature courses as well as advanced seminars in 20th- and 21st-century French studies, including a regular course on translation practice and theory and a recent seminar on multimedia poetry and "engagement" in contemporary France.

I have served as delegate assembly representative for the Division of Twentieth-Century French Literature and subsequently as regional representative for New England and Eastern Canada, both within the Modern Language Association. I am the past recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend and a Mellon-Mid-Career Fellowship, and I continue to translate works by contemporary French poets, philosophers, and historians.


  • B.A., Reed College
  • M.A., Columbia University
  • Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)