Black Mountain College Project
 

John Dewey at Black Mountain College. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.

STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE EARLY YEARS
(1933-43)

Section 2: Teachers and Teaching: Outside the Classroom

       

INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNLEY PROJECT AND DOCUMENTS

Description of the Study by Robert Sunley
*   Letter to the Students
*   Guidelines
*   Brief Biographies of
    Contributors

*   Brief Biographies of
    Faculty Mentioned in
    the Memoirs
*

SECTION 1. ROLE OF THE ARTS

    Statement by Robert
    Sunley


The artistic process as
    a major goal.


*   Individual, active
    anticipation was
    fostered but not
    required.

*   Focus on really “seeing”
    and “thinking” for
    oneself, not on the
    production of art.


Self-direction, self-
    discipline, initiative,
    development of the
    whole person....

The arts were diffused
    throughout the
    education ....    

 

Visitors

obert Bliss: Visitors often had an electric effect through performances, lectures, seminars, dinner conversation. (Yella Pessl—harpsichordist—Clifford Odets, Edgar Kaufman, Jr., Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Fernand Leger and many others).

Mary Brett Daniels: The sense of uniqueness was heightened when visitors came to see us, visits which became community events. After Leger's visit, there was an amusing eruption of black and yellow outfits in the dining hall. After the visitor from St. John's with his dictated curriculum of the 100 chosen books, we found solidarity in humor about whether we were reading the "chosen" or the vast "unchosen.""

Marilyn Bauer Greenwald: One cold winter day I found myself dancing with a man who was a visiting candidate for the teaching staff—one Alfred Kazin.

Will Hamlin:The visiting speakers and artists usually stayed a couple of days so students could confer with them. Three I remember were harpsichordist Yella Pessl, literary critic Alfred Kazin, and poet May Sarton. An unexpected visitor—he climbed the steps to the Lee Hall porch one afternoon when I was sitting there—was Henry Miller, whose "Tropic" novels were banned from sale in the U.S. as pornography.

Jane Mayhall: I remember being impressed by Jean Charlot, Ernst Krenek, Gropius and a score of other brilliant teachers and artists.

Robert Sunley: ... the visit of Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard: Huxley's novel, Eyeless in Gaza, had only recently been published and was prominent in literary discussions. We met the Huxleys and Heard in informal gatherings.... Other literary visitors also provided stimulus and broadening of our horizons; I recall Louis Adamic (novelist, author of the article in Harper’s magazine which gave national prominence to BMC), George Leighton, editor of Harper’s Magazine and author; Charles Norman, biographer of Christopher Marlowe and close friend of E.E. Cummings ... visits from others from the Bauhaus – Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Herbert Bayer....

John Swackhamer: Visitors were impressive ... Alfred Kazin, Bela Bartok, and Eduard Steuermann. I remember Zora Neale Hurston ... Ernst Bacon (composer) coming up from Spartanburg with a singer and another pianist....

Leslie Paul Symington: There were memorable visits from a variety of people including Dr. Scott Buchanan, Dean of St. John's College; Fernand Leger, the burly French painter who conducted classes, lectured in French, and spooned up his "potage" noisily at lunch; Albert Einstein and his sister came. He said of our efforts at Lake Eden: "Mount these mountains!"

Norman Weston: Many interesting people visited Black Mountain. I suppose John Dewey was the most distinguished. I can only report that it was fun to drink beer with John Rice and John Dewey at a scruffy joint in Black Mountain.... Aldous Huxley visited with his son. He contemplated sending his son to Black Mountain. Nan and I took them on a picnic to Blowing Rock with others.

Betty Young Williams: The visitors to the college (Thornton Wilder, Louis Adamic, Ted Shawn, Thomas Surette and many others) were very stimulating and fun.

Emil Willimetz: Both Thornton Wilder and Clifford Odets came to visit the school, gave readings and took part in lively discussions ... one visitor was Hans Sachs, the "Turtle," a student of Freud. He was called the Turtle because that is what he resembled ... he entranced the community for three evenings with a psychoanalysis of Shakespeare through the medium of his play, Macbeth.

Harold Raymond: Speakers and films presented to the community included spokesmen for TVA, the Farmers' Union, and other organizations.

 

SECTION 2. TEACHERS AND TEACHING

Introduction

Formal Aspects of the
Curriculum 

   Class Size 
   Grades    
   Advisors 
   Junior Division  
   Senior Division  
   Graduation

Methods of Teaching
   General

   John Andrew Rice 
   Josef Albers 
   Erwin Straus 
   Robert Wunsch 
   Others


Personalities of Faculty
  
John Rice  
   Josef Albers 
   Robert
Wunsch 
   Heinrich
Jalowetz  
   Others 

Outside the Classroom
   In General  
   The Work Program 
   Visitors -
   Trips 
   Drama 
   Interlude  
   Lectures, Concerts 
   Informal Interchange