Cigars & Academia

The hallowed halls of higher learning often contain a whiff of cigar.

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A few years back, Patricia A. Cooper published an interesting study of the work culture of American cigar factories in her book, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987). Cooper defines work culture as "the patterns of daily work into which any newcomer would be initiated after a time--the unwritten rules, the ways of doing the job, and how one thought about his or her work. But work culture is not simply a collection of interesting traditions. I found a coherent system of ideas and practices, forged in the context of the work process itself, through which workers modified, mediated and resisted the limits of their jobs."

Practices that "modified, mediated and resisted the limits of their jobs." Cooper could have easily described the university lifestyle and its cultural affair with the cigar.

Gene Crume is the director of alumni affairs at Western Kentucky University and a regional freelance writer.

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