The Re-Imagining Cole symposium examined the background, context and depictions of previously unseen caricatures of Cole, held at the Bodleian Libraries. It considered why Cole’s achievements were portrayed in the form of parody when his contemporaries were commemorated through portraits or statues. The symposium also examined broader issues of race and representation in portrait art and caricatures.


The morning session commenced with scene-setting:

the history of caricatures, Africans in caricatures;

an introduction to Cole to illustrate how his life intersected the complex intertwining of education, politics and race in the early twentieth-century exploring and examining the difficulties and barriers he encountered as a student at the illustrious University; the exploration of Cole’s images, and why these are thought to be the only images that exist.


The afternoon session posed the questions:

should Cole’s image be re-imagined, if so, why?

If an image of Cole is reimagined, what medium would be most appropriate and fitting to communicate Cole’s significant achievements?


Read the full symposium report