Robert Bulman (1990)

Professor of Sociology, St. Mary's College of California

I entered the Berkeley Sociology Department in the fall of 1990. The first few years of my education at Berkeley were entangled with the anxiety of the Gulf War, the trauma of the Oakland Hills firestorm, a labor strike to demand collective bargaining rights for AGSE, and graduate student protests over a controversial faculty hire. I sought temporary relief from these events as an editor for the Berkeley Journal of Sociology and as a member of one of Michael Burawoy's legendary Participant Observation seminars. It was in that class that I found my passion for the sociology of education and learned of the power of ethnography. That class ultimately pointed me towards my dissertation topic the cultural dimensions of school choice.

The most lasting effect Berkeley had on me, however, was that it turned me into a teacher of sociology. Ann Swidler and Michael Burawoy modeled ideal teaching methods in and out of the classroom. I began teaching out of financial necessity and ended up teaching because I loved it. In an attempt to raise the profile of teaching as part of our graduate education I initiated the GSI training seminar in the sociology department.

Since I graduated in 1999 I've been teaching sociology at Saint Mary's College of California, a small Catholic liberal arts college. I have the pleasure of teaching undergraduate courses on theory, methods, education, social movements, whiteness, disasters, adolescence, and film. In spite of a heavy teaching load I still find time for research. My book, Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture (Worth Publishers, 2005) analyzes the representation of schools and teens in popular films. It is now in its second edition (2015).

Dissertation Title: 
School Choice Stories: Unraveling the Dynamics of High School Selection
Dissertation Book Title: 
Hollywood Goes to High School: cinema, schools, and American culture