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Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Reprint of the E.P. Dutton edition originally published in 1972 a celebration of a fine (and poignantly nostalgic) college that endured from 1933 to 1956. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Paperback, 16 pages
Published March 28th 1994 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1972)
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Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
An amazing history of a group of people who tried and succeeded to make a new form of college ... for awhile. In the process, they irrevocably changed the U.S. Not just the U.S. art scene, but the U.S. (Or so says me.)

What is important is NOT the list of illustrious names that passed through and were transformed by Black Mountain College (BMC) (and that list of names is amazing, including Anni and Joseph Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Klein, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller,
ManuFactured Artists
This is by far the most comprehensive and well-balanced of the books I've read on the origins and history of Black Mountain College, a small progressive college founded in 1933 near the North Carolina community of Black Mountain. This college existed for little more than twenty years, yet arguably had more influence on avant-garde art and literature than any other American institution.

The real beauty of this edition is Martin Dubberman's focus on the college's role as an experimental educational
Mike Polizzi
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
With a love for fracas, this meticulous history provides a richly detailed account of the Black Mountain community, from its inception through its dissolution. It's difficult at times to discern Duberman's hierarchy for the material he presents, Albers in particular is handled in a fairly oblique manner, but the book is at its best when the endless community conflicts are contrasted to the extraordinary cultural contributions made by its personnel. Impressive for its knowledge of utopian communi ...more
The best history of anything I've ever read. Duberman approaches the remarkable many lives of black mountain as a question, and struggles to understand the meaning and form of the book much as the students and faculty at BMC struggled toxins their own meaning. At times,Duberman inserts himself into long past conversations, and at other times shares his own struggles with comprehending and evaluating the choices of those who spent their lives I that experiment. It was a troubled place and a visio ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Black Mountain College is one of those few-and-far-between topics that, despite its tremendous importance, isn't easily researched in depth with google and wikipedia. This makes this book truly and deeply valuable, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in radical education, art, or intentional community building in America - especially people interested in alternatives to "art colonies". ...more
Eve Lyons
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Very thorough history of the creation and eventual demise of a community of left-wing academics and artists, attempting to forge an alternative community.
Siddiq Khan
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"There is no comfort if you really believe in liberty. You´re just not going to have comfort; you´re going to have conflict."

-- John Rice, founder of Black Mountain College

This is history as in has rarely been written before, appropriate to a community of scholars committed to the pursuit of a new vision of higher education with an intensity rarely seen before or since.

Duberman dives headlong into the tumultuous passage of these pioneer spirits through a relatively brief period of time, and his
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When we opened a bookstore in Black Mountain, NC, I did not know much about the history of Black Mountain College. I learned quickly that out-of-town customers were very interested in learning more about this college. After much research and reading (the librarian in me kicked in), this book (Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman) helped me the most, and it became a favorite. Duberman presents the history of the founding, the existence, and the closing of this school in ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recently tried to re-read this. It's a grand failure -- or maybe not so grand. Researched during one of the worst stretches in the nation's history (late Sixties), and full of misgivings about its project, ostensibly the chronicle of a utopian experiment in republican higher education, using way too much of its documentary source material in the account, subjecting this to agitprop fourth-wall-destroying recursiveness, and ultimately pissy and condescending to the poets who ran the place into th ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me years to get around to reading this exhaustive exploration of the untraditional educational community that flourished and struggled in rural North Carolina from 1933 - 1957, and attracted many creative individuals as students and teachers. Glad I finally dipped into it, and, over a period of months, read the entire mind-provoking book.
Lance Grabmiller
An amazing book about an amazing people at an amazing place in time. By turns, hard to put down, hard to swallow, invigorating, infuriating... it's a book I head to move through slowly. Let it simmer... ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a well-written examination of the controversial community at Black Mountain that traces its evolution from a radical experiment under Rice to its collapse under Olson. Duberman pioneers an engaged manner of writing history, which enables him to be present in the writing to a much greater extent than other chroniclers might have been happy with. I found this appealing and honest.

Black Mountain College either stirs something in you that is prepared to see the good in it for all its eccentr
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I read this book mostly because it related to some things I'm doing at work. It was unexpectedly readable and for the most part entertaining. It got a bit bogged down in the middle with names, dates and such but it is a history book so that's to be expected.

Probably my most important take-away from this book is that I personally would have HATED to attend Black Mountain College at any point in it's history. I'm sure there were drama free periods but they seemed to be few and far between.

Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Very, very interesting book for a number of reasons:

1. the way that Duberman writes the history, inserting himself and his own teaching experience within the "story" of Black Mountain,
2. as Duberman interacts with the ideas and people that he's writing about, he gives a picture, not only of Black Mountain, but also the time that he's writing in,
3. it's an in depth description of how a college was instituted, progressed and dissolved

Jan 26, 2014 added it
Shelves: history
A narrative of a highly interesting group of personalities in the genre of history. Perhaps I shall find something to read more about the Albers in the future regarding both their educational experiments in the Bauhaus and in BMC.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just wish it was longer and more detailed. And that more people knew about the importance and excellence (and, yes, a lot of pettiness) of Black Mountain College.
Feb 18, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Very enthused about how this one......
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Martin Bauml Duberman is a scholar and playwright. He graduated from Yale in 1952 and earned a Ph.D. in American history from Harvard in 1957. Duberman left his tenured position at Princeton University in 1971 to become Distinguished Professor of History at Lehman College in New York City.

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