Teju Cole

We are delighted to welcome renowned photographer and critic Teju Cole to American University in October 2018 for  two lectures on art, activism, and the ways we sometimes refuse to see. 

Teju Cole Presents Blind Spot

Visiting Writers Series

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
7:00 pm
Doyle-Forman Theater (McKinley 201)

Prolific author, photographer and New York Times photography critic Teju Cole will read and show slides from his most recent work, Blind Spot. The book assembles photographs and text that chronicle Cole’s international travel in a dramatically changing world. At once a lyrical essay on place, and a collection of photographs that insist on seeing what often goes unseen, Blind Spot invites the reader to think through the radical implications of bearing witness.

  • Light refreshments will be available in the Doyle–Forman Lobby at 6:30 p.m. Program to begin at 7:00 p.m.
  • This is a first come, first seated event. Reservations recommended. On-site wait-list will be available and wait-listed guests will be seated in order of request ten minutes prior to the event.
  • Click here to register:   http://www.american.edu/cas/blindspot


“Known and Strange Things: Art and Activism in the 21st Century”

Bishop McCabe Lecture Series

Thursday, October 4, 2018
7:00 pm
Katzen Arts Center

Teju Cole’s art practice includes photography, novels, art installations, essays and Spotify playlists. Cole will speak about the possibilities of art and activism at a time of wrenching political division. How can art enter—and transform—national conversations? What can activists teach artists about meaningful creative expression in the 21st century?

  • This is a first come, first seated event. On-site wait-list will be available and wait-listed guests will be seated in order of request ten minutes prior to the event.
  • Click here to register: http://www.american.edu/cas/known-and-strange


About Our Speaker

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. He was born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, and raised in Nigeria. He currently lives in Brooklyn. He is the author of four books.
His novella, Every Day is for the Thief, was named a book of the year by the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, NPR, and the Telegraph, and shortlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. His novel, Open City, also featured on numerous book of the year lists, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Internationaler Literaturpreis, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. His essay collection, Known and Strange Things, was shortlisted for both the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Award for “a book that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.” Known and Strange Things was named a book of the year by the Guardian, the Financial Times, Time Magazine, and many others. His most recent book, Blind Spot (June 2017), a genre-crossing work of photography and texts, was shortlisted for the Aperture/Paris Photo Photobook Award and named one of the best books of the year by Time Magazine. He was commissioned by the 2017 Performa Biennial to present a multimedia solo performance piece, Black Paper, which the New York Times acclaimed as “quietly grave” and “thoroughly devastating.”
Teju Cole has contributed to the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, Brick, and many other magazines. His photography column at the New York Times Magazine, “On Photography,” was a finalist for a 2016 National Magazine Award. His photography has been exhibited in India, Iceland, Italy, and the US. He has lectured widely, from the Harvard Graduate School of Design to Twitter Headquarters. He gave the 2014 Kenan Distinguished Lecture in Ethics at Duke University, the 2015 Susan D. Gubar Lecture at Indiana University, and the 2016 Spui25 Lecture at the University of Amsterdam. He was awarded the 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction, and a 2015 US Artists award. He serves as a board member for several periodicals and arts organizations, and has participated in many literary and photography juries.


Teju Cole’s visit to AU has been made possible by the collaborative efforts of the following partners: College of Arts & Sciences, Humanities Lab, MFA Creative Writing Visiting Writers Series, Bishop McCabe Lecture Series, School of Communication, Studio Art Program, Department of Literature. Generous support was also provided by Interim Provost Mary Clark, Dean Peter Starr, Dean Jessica Waters, and University Librarian Nancy Davenport.


Learn more about Teju Cole














Click on the titles to go to the Penguin Random House page for each book

Open City (2012)

Every Day is for the Thief (2015)

Known and Strange Things (2016)


Blind Spot (2017)