Magdalen College library to host exhibition celebrating the “early pioneers of diversity at Oxford”

As part of the exhibition, other events celebrating diverse elements of the University's history will be happening in May, June, and October.

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The exhibition – ‘Making History: Christian Cole, Alain Locke, and Oscar Wilde at Oxford’ – will focus on the three figures and their “shared histories” as “Oxford’s queer, black, and first generation undergraduates.”

The event focuses on Christian Cole, the University’s first black African undergraduate, Alain Locke, the first African-American Rhodes Scholar and “godfather” of the Harlem Renaissance, and Oscar Wilde, the “great Irish wit and dandy”. Cole studied at University College, Locke at Herford, and Wilde and Magdalen.

The exhibition will “draw these exceptional men together by “showcasing rare archives”. The college website states the aim as to “allow the public a unique glimpse at the documents and drawings that bear witness to these remarkable young men’s lives and times.”

Magdalen College is showcasing the exhibition in the college’s Longwall Library. It is part of a pan-Oxford event series with involvement by Univeristy, Hertford, and Mansfield colleges alongside Magdalen.

Curators include Univ librarian Elizabeth Adams, Magdalen librarian Daryl Green, and Associate Professor of English and Tutorial Fellow at Mansfield, Dr Michéle Mendelssohn. The exhibition is based on the latter’s biography of Oscar Wilde: Making Oscar Wilde.

The exhibition will begin with with a free launch party and salon with the curators on 9 May at Magdalen. It runs until October, and is available to all College members as well as to visitors by appointment.

Other events include lectures on Alain Locke and Christian Cole and a “Black Oxford walking tour”, inspired by Pamela Roberts’s book Black Oxford.

For more information, click here.

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