Jonathan W. Coffin, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Alesia Maltz, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Julia D. Gibson, PhD, Committee Member
  • Adrian J. Ivakhiv, PhD, Committee Member


Monadnock, art, environmental aesthetics, ecological ontology, hermeneutic phenomenology

Document Type


Publication Date



This hermeneutic phenomenological study discloses the lived experience of creating art in association with New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock. This study reveals the potential for artistic invention in association with place gradually to undermine an established sense of separation from environment and to prompt conscious awareness of continuity with environment. A series of interviews with four artists who create art of or in the presence of Monadnock revealed in the lived experience of creating Monadnock art a process that consists of five phases: first encounter, abstract appreciation, existential understanding, sustained attention, and continuity. A hermeneutic circular method of interpretation based upon the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Hans Georg Gadamer was used to interpret this experiential process in conjunction with Arnold Berleant’s non-conceptual environmental aesthetics of engagement and with various works in the field of ecological ontology. In addition to disclosing the aesthetic experiential dimensions of artistic invention in association with place, this circular interpretive process revealed two practical points of tension: one between the descriptive and the prescriptive dimensions of Berleant’s aesthetic model and another between the intellectual medium and the holistic message of ecological ontological literature. Ultimately, this study indicated the possibility for artistic invention in association with place in the experience of the artist to resolve these points of tension, to undermine the hegemony of the ontological dualism that causes ecological crisis, and to prompt an holistic sense of being in the world that might motivate ecological restoration.


Jonathan W. Coffin

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0007-6860-0693