Patell is a specialist in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and culture. His recent scholarship and teaching has centered on the theory and practice of cosmopolitanism and on the literature and culture of New York City. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Undergraduate Honors for the English Department. From 2010-2013, Patell was the Associate Dean of Humanities for NYU Abu Dhabi.
At NYU Abu Dhabi, Patell teaches a variety of courses including "Foundations of Literature I & II," "The Cosmopolitan Imagination," "Speculative Fiction," "Classic American Literature," and "Global Shakespeare." He is presently developing a course on literary representations of modern global cities, based on his CAS undergraduate course "Writing New York" (co-taught with Bryan Waterman), which will be taught across NYU's portal campuses.
Recent publications include The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York City (co-edited with Bryan Waterman) and The Rolling Stones' Some Girls (Continuum). A new study, Marginal, Emergent, Cosmopolitan: An Introduction to U.S. Emergent Literatures after 1968, is forthcoming from NYU Press. Patell is presently at work on a manuscript entitled "Cosmopolitanism and the Literary Imagination" and is co-editing (with Deborah Lindsay Williams) volume eight of the twelve-volume Oxford History of the Novel in English (general editor Patrick Parrinder) on the American novel after 1940.