Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

Chocolat: A gentle endorsement of change

June 2001

It is easy to view Lasse Hallstrom’s movie Chocolat as a light and tasty treat. It is a fanciful story about a 1959 traditional French village transformed by the opening of “Chocolaterie Maya.”

Well, it is simple—like a fairy tale. Taken for what it is, a morality tale with social types standing in for contemporary social issues, it is a charming fable with and easy-to-taste moral about the forces of modernization and the liberalization of tradition as the best response.

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Private Life With Public Purpose

On Job Interviewing: Thinking from both sides of the table

Originally published December 1, 1999 by the American Historical Association, and can be accessed here: https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/december-1999/on-job-interviewing-thinking-from-both-sides-of-the-table

A long weekend at the AHA meeting can go very quickly with all the intellectual, professional, and collegial work to do. Plus it’s just nice to take a break and see the town surrounding the hothouse atmosphere of the conference. So I found it difficult to imagine adding anything extra to the schedule. That was how I first conceived of the session “Interviewing in the Job Market of the 1990s: A Workshop,” organized by Carla Rahn Phillips. But the description intrigued me, since I was not very far in time from sitting for interviews myself. The uncertainties of being evaluated for one of the biggest steps in my professional career still loomed large in my memory. I folded down the corner of the page in the program book to mark the session for future reference.

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Private Life With Public Purpose

The invisible man: how culture has forced fathers into the background

November 1997

My son, Peter, was ready for the SAK theater performance on October 24. Remembering their spray of Tootsie Rolls into the audience to sweeten up the crowd, he had a bag full of candy ready to toss back to them. The show started, and the Tootsies flew—and sure enough Peter threw some of his candy onto the stage. Maybe that was the only bribe they needed, since they chose him when they asked for volunteers for one of their first skits.

Peter’s five minutes of fame catapulted him onto the front page of the Reporter, in a nice photograph that captured his ambivalence about being on stage. His only disappointment was that the caption didn’t mention his name. What could I say, but “Come to think of it, the caption says you are ‘Ann Jerome Croce’s son’ but not mine.” I looked at him with a smirk, and said, “Do you think it’s anti-boyism?” In his seven-year-old wisdom, he didn’t know what to make of that, but he still didn’t like not being mentioned.

I’m not very bothered by not being mentioned but the caption has gotten me thinking about the perceptions of men in childcare and about the role of men in contemporary society.

Are fathers becoming invisible? Read the rest of this essay here.