This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Truth and Method on Black Mountain: The Hermeneutic Stances of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan




Boone, Nicholas

Type of Degree





This dissertation examines the poetry and poetics of three poets (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan) who taught at Black Mountain College, an experimental art school, in the 1950s. It examines these poets’ work through the lens of the hermeneutic ontology developed by Martin Heidegger and his student, Hans-Georg Gadamer. Besides uncovering a number of similarities regarding each of these thinkers’ “stance toward reality” (as Olson terms it), this dissertation shows how Black Mountain poetry and poetics can be better understood through the perspective that Heidegger and Gadamer provide. More than a few critics have discussed both Olson and Creeley in terms of Heidegger’s thought, but no one has yet made extended reference to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer when interpreting these poets. In the case of Duncan’s poetry, no one has yet made an extended study of how his work can be interpreted in the light of hermeneutic ontology. Thus, this dissertation contributes to the ongoing critical discussion on how Olson and Creeley can be seen within the framework of Heidegger’s thought, and it extends beyond that discussion by including the poetry of Robert Duncan and the thought of Hans-Georg Gadamer.