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Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community Paperback – March 13, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0810125940 ISBN-10: 0810125943

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Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community + The Arts at Black Mountain College + Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 616 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press (March 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810125943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810125940
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

 Martin Duberman is distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York. He is the author of some twenty books, including Charles Francis Adams (winner of the Bancroft Prize); James Russell Lowell (finalist for the National Book Award); Paul Robeson (winner of the George Freedley Memorial Award); Left Out: The Politics of Exclusion, Essays 1964-2002; The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein (finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Biography); and Cures: A Gay Man’s Odyssey. His recent novel Haymarket has been published in several languages, and his play In White America won the Drama Desk Award. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By jbaker@rof.net on February 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
Needing guidance on how to lead an artist's community, I discovered this rare and remarkable book. It takes you inside an intentional community, one better known for its mythology than for its reality, and shows you the birth, growth and death of an ideal. Unlike other books on similar subjects, it is never trivial or purely ancedotal -- every paragraph reveals something fundamental about the struggles, passions, successes and failures that are part of inventing a community. There are moments in this book that are so profoundly true -- I know this because I recognize them from my own similar experiences. I respect Duberman's perceptions and his deep emotional attachment to the subject (someday I hope to thank the author personally as this book has made a positive difference in my life and the development of my community). I recommend this as a textbook for those thinking of starting an artist's community.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
Duberman's classic "Black Mountain" is the definitive work of scholarship on the school that gave America its most pivotal and influential artists of the 20th century.

A sheer joy to read, this account of the rise and fall of Black Mountain engages the reader into a world of ideas, community and art that is all too rare in today's considerations.
Teachers can learn how to Teach and Do at the same time. Students can learn the meaning of involvement, responsibility and creativity. Parents might learn a thing or two about choices. And administrators will see where they've gone wrong.
Something for nearly everyone in this erudite, and poignant dissertation.

If there was one idea that pervades the book, and, indeed, pervaded the college it was that "living" and "learning" should be intertwined, and a favorite slogan at Black Mountain was that "as much real education took place over the coffee cups as in the classrooms."

There is much that we all can learn from this account. But read it for the adventure! Think of it as a sort of Intellectual Indiana Jones where the treasure is that harmonious mix of education, art, community and life -- in other words, the very gem that these brave and gifted women and men of eminence sought at Black Mountain.

We owe these pioneers a great deal.

Honor them with your mind, and read this wondrous account by one of Black Mountain's own.

Dave Beckwith


Charlotte Internet Society
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Bromberg on May 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
With exceptional research, interviews and anecdotes, Duberman details the brief, lively history of Black Mountain College in western North Carolina. The influence of this experimental community continues to the present (the faculty and alumni included Anna and Josef Albers, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Jonathan Williams, among many others). The struggle to keep the College fiscally solvent from year-to-year, as often happens at any instution, becomes paramount to the story, but doesn't detract from the intellectual achievement of Black Mountain -- or diminish the artistic clashes of its participants. In the 1970s, the founding of the Naropa Institute, the Jack Kerouac School of Disemobodied Poetics, and other experiments in community would find echoes in the history of Black Mountain College. This is an entertaining and informative history, and essential reading for anyone interested in mid-20th century literature and art.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Norman A. Hicks on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
When was the last time you tore through a 440 page work of non-fiction on education? Well, Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community captures your imagination and takes you on an intense and important ride. It tells a tale of hope, tragedy, and future possibilities.

Although it only had under 200 students, in its 1933-1957 history, the College attracted some of the most important artists and visionaries of the 20th Century. We're talking names such as John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Willem De Kooning, and Robert Rauschenberg. This book was of immense value, not because of the celebrity appeal of some of its intellectuals. This is the story of an experiment in seeking a new way to learn. There were no course requirements, and no majors. There was no external Board of Trustees, but students did sit on the governing Board of Fellows. Faculty firings were on occasion over-turned by organized student outcry.

The Black Mountain story is one dominated by big egos and flawed personalities. Internal conflicts at Black Mountain constantly split it apart. Despite its desire to be a democratic, faculty-(worker)-owned community, Black Mountain never figured out how to rise above its own eccentricities, its pretensions, or its false senses of self. It never figured out how to become a sustainable institution, either financially, or culturally. In three decades, it became consumed by its schisms and drama. The experience makes you realize how much humanity has grown in the 80 years since Black Mountain's founding. And how important the science of human conflict resolution is to the future of any other innovative group project.

I read Black Mountain as a case study in a field I personally am exploring, as a social entrepreneur: radical education.
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