Dahlgren pens ‘Ivory Tower Misfits’ chapter in newly published ‘Cinema U’

Monday March 4, 2019Roger Coda
copy of book cover

Robert L. Dahlgren, associate professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, welcomed publication of "Ivory Tower Misfits: The Images of College Professors in Hollywood Films,” a chapter he wrote in the newly published volume "Cinema U: Representations of Higher Education in Popular Film," by Fourth Horseman Press.

In their introduction, editors Randy Laist and Kip Kline commented that, "Dahlgren convincingly argues that significant damage has been done to the vast majority of hardworking, committed academics by overwhelmingly negative images of cynical and morally bankrupt professors in films."

Higher education in the United States has come under greater scrutiny in recent years, with many commentators questioning the quality, effectiveness and, ultimately, the value of the college experience, according to Dr. Dahlgren.

“Hollywood has reinforced this notion, producing a series of films that has portrayed college professors in a perpetual state of mid-life crisis, seeking solace from a tedious academic work life in alcohol, drugs and the sexual companionship of undergraduate students,” Dahlgren said.

Dahlgren’s chapter explores the public image of college professors, as represented in popular films of recent decades. Utilizing a textual analysis of film as suggested by Dr. Robert Bulman, a sociology professor, the chapter surveys 40 films created between 1970 and 2015, and adds a valuable pedagogical context to sociological analyses of Hollywood films regarding education.

“Cinema U” examines the representation of college and campus life in movies through chapters that discuss how movies about college shape expectations, perceptions and attitudes of students, faculty and the public.

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