Peter Decherney

Professor of Cinema & Media Studies and English


Fisher-Bennett Hall 211


Peter Decherney is Professor of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Penn Global Documentary Institute, and Faculty Director of Penn’s university-wide Online Learning Initiative. He holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School.

He is the author or editor of seven books including HOLLYWOOD’S COPYRIGHT WARS: FROM EDISON TO THE INTERNET and HOLLYWOOD: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION. Prof. Decherney has also written for The New York Times, Forbes, and Inside Higher Ed, among other publications. His first book of photography ENDLESS EXODUS: THE JEWISH EXPERINCE IN ETHIOPIA is forthcoming.

He is an award-winning documentary and virtual reality filmmaker, who has directed a series of films about global migration and on the political role of artists in Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the U.S. His virtual reality docuseries, THE HEART OF PUERTO RICO, about artists in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (co-directed with Jean Lee) won the Best VR Experience and Best Director awards at the 2020 AT&T Film Awards. And his documentary, DREAMING OF JERUSALEM (co-directed with Sosena Solomon), about the Jewish Community in Gondar, Ethiopia is a Discovery+ original.

Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. He is an award-winning teacher, whose open online course on the history of Hollywood has enrolled more than 70,000 learners. He serves on the advisory boards of several online learning organizations including Coursera, 2U/edX, and the Center for Reimaging Learning, and he is an advisor to Honor Education.

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