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Bard College Appoints Celebrated Nigerian American Author Teju Cole as Distinguished Writer in Residence

Mark Primoff
 Image Credit: Teju Cole
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College announces the appointment of renowned author Teju Cole as Distinguished Writer in Residence at the College. He will be in full-time residence for the next two spring semesters beginning in January 2012. Cole’s residency will contribute to the art history, literature, and written arts programs at Bard. This spring, he teaches an art history course, Contemporary African Art, and a literature course, Writing the Modern City. Cole first came to Bard in spring 2011 as an Achebe Center Fellow at the invitation of Binyavanga Wainaina, director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists.

Cole’s most recent novel, Open City, has received international critical acclaim. His work has been called “beautiful, subtle, and finally, original” by James Wood in the New Yorker. The Economist writes, “A clear-eyed and mysterious achievement, a modern meditation that is both complex and utterly simple . . . In the precision with which Mr. Cole chooses words or phrases he is not unlike Gustave Flaubert.” Time asserts, “A powerful and unnerving inquiry into the human soul. Cole has earned flattering comparisons to literary heavyweights like J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and Henry James, but Open City merits higher praise: it’s a profoundly original work, intellectually stimulating and possessing of a style both engaging and seductive.” Open City has translations forthcoming in French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch. The novel is a finalist for the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Both Time and NPR named it one of the ten top novels of the year, and it has appeared on the best books list of more than 20 publications including the New Yorker, Atlantic, The Economist, Newsweek, New Republic, and Los Angeles Times.

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and street photographer. Born in the United States in 1975 to Nigerian parents, he was raised in Nigeria and currently lives in Brooklyn. Besides Open City (Random House, 2011), Cole is the author of a novella, Every Day Is for the Thief (Cassava Republic Press, 2007). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Qarrtsiluni, Chimurenga, New Yorker, Transition, Tin House, and A Public Space, among other publications. He is currently at work on Water Has No Enemy, a nonfiction narrative of Lagos, and on Small Fates. He received his B.A. in studio art and art history from Kalamazoo College in Michigan; his M.A. in African art history from the University of London; his MPhil in 16th-century northern European visual culture from Columbia University, where he is working on his PhD. He has taught art history and literature at Hofstra University, New York University, and Columbia University. He has received a Rudolf Wittkower Fellowship and Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities (awarded by the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation), and has been interviewed for the documentary film, Wole Soyinka: Child of the Forest.



Founded in 1860, Bard is an independent, nonsectarian, residential, coeducational college offering a four-year B.A. program in the liberal arts and sciences and a five-year B.S./B.A. degree in economics and finance. The Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program in which students pursue a dual degree—a B.Music and a B.A. in a field other than music—and offers an M.Music in vocal arts and in conducting. Bard and its affiliated institutions also grant the following degrees: A.A. at Bard High School Early College, a public school with campuses in New York City (Manhattan and Queens) and Newark, New Jersey; A.A. and B.A. at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and through the Bard Prison Initiative at five penal institutions in New York State; M.A. in curatorial studies, and M.S. in environmental policy and in climate science and policy at the Annandale campus; M.F.A. and M.A.T. at multiple campuses; M.B.A. in sustainability in New York City; and M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture at the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. Internationally, Bard confers dual B.A. degrees at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Russia (Smolny College), and American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan; and dual B.A. and M.A.T. degrees at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. Bard offers nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions. Total enrollment for Bard College and its affiliates is approximately 3,900 students. The undergraduate college has an enrollment of more than 1,900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. For more information about Bard College, visit

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This event was last updated on 01-27-2012