Even decades after its initial closure in the late '50s, the now-defunct Black Mountain College of rural Asheville, NC, qualifies as one of the most heavily mythologized of all progressive American collegiate institutions. Much of this mythology, of course, springs from the university's overwhelming ability to foster much of the postmodern avant-garde; it had geniuses including William Carlos Williams, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, and John Cage at its helm, and boasted a veritable who's who of alumni who subsequently qualified as the most respected minds working in the arts and sciences. Moreover, its own legacy is inextricable from the stirrings of the early Beat Poetry movement, and the precedents that it set for current approaches to "alternative education," such as that of Hampshire College, retain validity to this day. With their documentary Fully Awake: Black Mountain College, filmmakers Cathryn Davis and Neeley House revisit the initial establishment, educational practices, cultural contributions, closure, and enduring legacy of this vital university.
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