Hollywood Goes to High School

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-03-13
  • Publisher: Worth Publishers

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What do films such as The Breakfast Club, Dead Poet’s Society, and Freedom Writers have to teach us about American culture? Robert Bulman’s Hollywood Goes to High School takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the high school film genre. Skillfully blending sociological theory and film analysis, Bulman’s always accessible writing delightfully challenges the reader to think critically about American individualism and class inequality. Bulman’s insightful sociological analysis of 177 new and classic high school films explores the complex ways in which Americans make sense of social class, education, gender and adolescence. Suitable for the beginning and advanced student, Hollywood Goes to High School is an essential piece of reading for a variety of courses in sociology, education, communication, anthropology, American studies, and film studies.

For more from Robert Bulman read his analysis of McFarland USA starring Kevin Costner on Sociological Cinema here: http://www.thesociologicalcinema.com/blog/is-kevin-costners-mcfarland-usa-a-white-savior-film-well-yes-and-no.

Author Biography

Robert C. Bulman is a professor of sociology at Saint Mary’s College of California. He received his B.A. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1989 and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999. He teaches the sociology of education, the sociology of culture, social stratification, and research methods. In addition to his research on films and American culture, he has published work on educational decision making, the political dynamics of school choice, and masculinity in ballroom dancing.

Table of Contents

1. Using the Movies to Make Sense of Society: A Sociological Introduction

Films and Culture

Going to the Movies as a Research Method

A Brief Review of Other High School Film Analyses

Hollywood’s View of High School: The Three Subgenres

Outline and Argument of the Book

2. Middle-Class Individualism and the Adolescent

Frontier: What High School Films Reveal About American Culture

The American Development of Utilitarian and Expressive

Individualism: The Protestant Ethic, the Capitalist Ethic, andTheir Discontents

Individualism and Democracy

Individualism and the American Frontier

The Middle Class and American Culture

Teenagers and American Culture

Gender and Individualism in American Culture

A Final Note

3. Fighting the Culture of Poverty: The Teacher as the Urban School Cowboy

A Cinematic Culture of Poverty

Welcome to the Jungle: The Urban School in Hollywood Films

The School Staff: Inept Bureaucrats and Incompetent Teachers

The Outsider as the Teacher-Hero

The Teacher as a Cowboy Vigilante

Hollywood’s Lesson Plan: Just Choose Success

What Hollywood Could Learn from Social Science

Teacher Heroes as Compassionate Conservatives

A Cultural Contradiction

Learning from the Anomalies

Not All Teacher-Heroes Are Created Equal: The Persistence of Gender Inequity

Conclusion: The Urban School Frontier

4. We Don’t Need No Education: The Rejection of Utilitarian

Individualism in Suburban School Films

Being a White Upper-Middle-Class Suburban Teenager Sucks

Middle-Class Teachers as Antagonists

The Evil High School Football Coach

Adults as Fools

The Irrelevance of Academics in the Suburban School Films

The Threat of Academic Achievement

The High School Do-Over: Getting a Second Chance to Find Yourself

Middle-Class Conformity in American Culture

5. Students as Heroes: Expressing Oneself in a Culture of Conformity

Students as Heroes: The Possibilities of Youth

1. Breaking Down the Walls of Race and Class

2. Overcoming the Culture of Popularity

3. The Triumph of Youth: "When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies

Gender Variations

Social Class, Symbolic Deviance, and Adolescent Identity

The Paths to Adulthood: Social Class and Adolescent Strategies to Independence

Conclusion: The Cultural Contradiction of Individualism and Conformity

6. Challenging the Culture of Privilege: Class Conflict in the Private School Film

"Just Because You Are Accepted, Doesn’t Mean You Belong"

Academic Matters

The Burden of Academic Achievement

The Moral Bankruptcy of the Rich

Revenge of the Middle Class: The Triumph of Well-Roundedness, Integrity, and Merit

The Anomaly of the Catholic School Film

Inequality, Education, and American Culture

7. The Cultural Distinctiveness of the American High School Film

Using Our Sociological Imagination to Understand Hollywood Films

What About Foreign School Films? An Exploratory Examination

Who Has Cultural Power?

Appendix A: A Guide to Conducting Social Science Research with Film

What Is Your Research Question?

Conduct a Literature Review

What Is Your Hypothesis?

Identify the Variables

What Is the Population?

How Will You Select a Sample?

Take Detailed Notes

Analyze the Data

Use the Data to Build an Argument

Use Theory to Explain Your Findings

Appendix B: High School Film Sample

The Suburban School Films in the Sample

The Urban School Films in the Sample

The Private School Films in the Sample



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