Robert C. Bulman

Robert C.


Professional Overview: 

I received a B.A. in sociology from U .C. Santa Cruz in 1989. I continued my education at U.C. Berkeley, receiving the M.A. in sociology in 1992 and the Ph.D. in 1999.  My primary areas in the field of sociology include the sociology of education, inequality, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of film.  I have been teaching at Saint Mary's since the fall of 1999.  I've published peer-reviewed articles or book chapters on the politics of school choice, the social and cultural dynamics of educational decision making, the representations of education and adolescents in Hollywood films, and the gender dynamics of ballroom dance.  My book, Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture was first pubished by Worth in 2004.  A revised and updated second edition was published in March of 2015.

School of Liberal Arts » Sociology
SMC Email Address: 
Contact Information: 

Garaventa - 311

Phone: 8321
Fax: 376-2411


  • Ph. D. Sociology, UC Berkeley, 1999
  • M.A. Sociology, UC Berkeley, 1992
  • B.A. Sociology, UC Santa Cruz, 1989

Courses Taught

Recently Taught:

  • The Sociology of Film
  • Education and Society
  • In Search of California, Jan Term
  • Senior Research Seminar
  • Sociological Research Methods
  • The Sociological Imagination


Association Memberships:

  • Sociology of Education Association
  • American Sociological Association
  • Pacific Sociological Association

Professional Service:

  • Distinguished Book Award Committee, American Sociological Association
    (January 2006 - January 2009)
    This committee awards the prize to the "best book" published in sociology each year.
  • Deputy Editor, Sociological Perspectives 2012-2015

Saint Mary's Committees:

Chair, Rank and Tenure Committee, 2015-2017

Rank and Tenure Committee, 2013-2015

Social, Historical, and Cultural Sub-Committee of the CCC, 2012- 2013

Hiring Committee Chair, Sociology, 2012

Committee on Teaching and Scholarship, 2012 - 2013

January Term Committee, 2011-2013

Campus Committee on Inclusive Excellence, Co-Chair, 2008-2010

Chair of the Sociology Department, 2006-2009

Core Curriculum Task Force, 2006-2009

CILSA Advisory Council, 2006 – 2009

Elected Liberal Arts representative to the Academic Senate, 2004 – 2006

Committee on Teaching and Scholarship, 2002 – 2005

Director of the International Area Studies Program, 2001 - 2004

International Programs Coordinating Committee, 2002 – 2004

WASC accreditation Educational Effectiveness committee, 2003 - 2005

Disciplinary Review Hearing Board, 2001 – 2003

Strategic Planning Committee for Scholarship, 2003

Hiring committee for the new Director of Student Conduct, 2002.

Hiring committee for the coordinator of Asian Pacific American student services, 2004.


Examiner for the senior assessments of the Liberal and Civic Studies majors, 2001-2002


    Selected Paper Presentations  

    2017  "Hollywood Still Goes to High School: How films about schooling reveal American cultural beliefs about inequality." Keynote address at the Teachers, Teaching and the Media Conference at Wake Forest University, March 2, 2017

    2015 "'I can't be your wife:' Gender and the Cultural Double Standard in American  High School Films." at the Pacific Sociological Association Meetings in Long Beach, CA. April 4th.

    2014 “Hollywood Still Goes to High School” at the Teachers, Teaching and the Media conference at Saint Mary’s College of California, October 17, 2014

    2012    “A Win-Win: Helping the Poor to Help Ourselves.” Paper presentation at the meetings of the American Sociological Association, Denver, Colorado.  August 17.

    2007    "Film and American Culture: The Case of the High School Film." Keynote address at the Teachers, Teaching and the Movies" conference at the College of Charleston,  October 26.

    2007    “Sex and Gender on the Dance floor” with Allison Yamanashi, presented at the American Sociological Association Meetings in New York City, August.

    2007    “Having Fun but Taking it Seriously: Using film in the classroom.”  Presentation at the American Sociological Association meetings in New York City, August.

    2006    “The Progressive Potential of School Vouchers.”  Paper presented at the meetings of the American Sociological Association in Montreal, Canada.  August 13.

    2006    “Notes Toward a Sociology of Film.” Paper presented at the meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association in Hollywood, CA.  April 21.

    2005    “Building Bridges: What do Sociology, Chemistry, and Religious Studies Have in Common?”  Paper co-authored with Phylis Martinelli and presented November 12 at the California Sociological Association Meetings in Sacramento, CA.

    2005    “The Cultural Calculus of School Choice.” Paper presented at the “Colloquium on School Choice,” organized by the Christian Brothers of the District of San Francisco.  June 28.

    2005    “Hollywood Goes to High School.” Public lecture delivered at Saint Mary’s College of California.  February 18.

    2004    “Returning from Study Abroad: The High School Film in Comparative Perspective.” Presented at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in San Francisco in August.

    2004    Challenging the Culture of Privilege: Class Conflict in the Private School Film.” Presented at the annual meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association in San Francisco on April 16. 

    2003   “Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools, and American Culture.”  Faculty Research Forum presentation, Saint Mary’s College.  Spring.

    2003   “Fighting the Culture of Poverty: Contradictions in Adolescent Cinema.” Presented at the 2003 Meetings of the California Sociological Association.




    • Bulman, Robert (2017) "Mr. Plecki and Me: Lessons From Cheaters About Critical Pedagogy" in Screen Lessons: What we have learned from teachers on television and the movies. Edited by Laura Linder and Mary Dalton. NY: Peter Lang
    • Bulman, Robert (2016) "Foreword" in Exploring Teachers in Fiction and Film. NY: Routledge
    • Bulman, Robert. (2015). Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture, Second Edition. New York, NY: Worth Publishers
    • Bulman, Robert. (2013). Book Review: Dance with Me: Ballroom Dancing and the Promise of Instant Intimacy . Social Forces, Vol. doi:10.1093/sf/sot058 , NA.
    • Bulman, Robert. (2011, March11). A Win-Win: Helping the Poor and Helping Ourselves. The Davis Enterprise, B-7.
    • Bulman, Robert. (2010). Class in the Classroom: Hollywood’s Distorted View of Inequality. In Sutherland, Jean-Anne and Feltey, Kathryn(Eds.), Cinematic Sociology: Social Life in Film. Sage.
    • Bulman, Robert C. & McCants, Nicole S. (2008). Enlightened Teenage Masculinity. Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, Vol. 7, Iss. 3, 68-69.
    • Bulman, Robert. (2007). Building Bridges: A Report on the Napa Colloquium on School Choice. In Family Choice in Education and the Lasallian Educational Mission. Napa, California: The Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of San Francisco.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2007). Response to the essay, 'One Nation, Slightly Divisible" by David Brooks. In The Presence of Others: Voices and Images that Call for Response. Bedford/St. Martins.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2007). Can a Living Legend be Inauthentic?. Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, Vol. 6, Iss. Fall.
    • Leib, Allison Yamanashi & Bulman, Robert C. (2007). The Choreography of Gender: Masculinity, Femininity, and the Complex Dance of Identity in the Ballroom. Men and Masculinities, Vol. December.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2006). Shall We DanceSport? The World of Competitive Ballroom Dancing. Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, Vol. 5, Iss. 1.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2006). Review of Hollywood Films About Schools by Ronald Chennault. Teachers College Record, online, Vol.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2005). Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools, and American Culture. New York: Worth Publishers
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2005). Coach Carter: The Urban Cowboy Rides Again. Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, Vol. 4, Iss. 3.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2004). School-Choice Stories: The Role of Culture. Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 74, Iss. 4.
    • Bulman, Robert C. (2002). Teachers in the 'Hood: Hollywood's Middle-Class Fantasy. The Urban Review, Vol. 34, Iss. 3.
    • Bulman, Robert C. & Kirp, David L. (1999). The Shifting Politics of School Choice. In School Choice and Social Controversy: Politics, Policy, and Law. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.


    Scholarly Interests: 


    • Education and social inequality
    • School choice and vouchers
    • Hollywood films and American culture