Coleridge lecture series 2015: Radical Green

In 1795 Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave a series of radical lectures in Bristol which questioned religion, attacked the slave trade, condemned the war with France and criticised taxation. They promoted wide debate and were attacked by the city’s merchants.

A new Festival of Ideas series, the Coleridge Lectures, looks annually at a theme of interest to the city. To mark Bristol 2015 we present a series on Radical Green, in association with Bristol 2015 and the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol.

All events in this series are free of charge and take place in the Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol.

All places must be booked via the event page. Booking opens six weeks before each lecture. For further information on the series please email ideas@gwebusinesswest.co.uk

If you require additional support for any of the lectures, e.g. wheelchair access or sign language interpretation, please contact Laura Bagley at the earliest opportunity and we will endeavour to meet your request.

Speakers

Poetry, the land and nature

Kathleen Jamie Katheleen Jamie

17 Feb

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
Romanticism looked at nature and the natural world in new ways and embraced a sense of place. Kathleen Jamie – a nature poet who has also covered Scotland’s independent spirit – asks how human beings can live the right relationship with the natural world. Her poetry and her books of essays, Sightlines and Findings, have been at the centre of the revival of nature writing in recent years. Finding nature in the tiny cracks of daily life, as well as Orkney in midwinter and twenty-first-century flotsam on a shoreline in the Hebrides, Jamie helps us all renegotiate our relationship with the natural world. She will read from her work, and talk about this relationship.

Biography
Kathleen Jamie was born in the west of Scotland. Her poetry collections to date include The Overhaul, which won the 2012 Costa Poetry Prize, The Tree House which won both the Forward prize and the Scottish Book of the Year Award. Kathleen Jamie also writes non-fiction including the highly regarded Findings and Sightlines.

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Green and social justice

Anna Coote Anna Coote

23 Feb

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
Anna Coote of the New Economics Foundation sets out the case for a new social settlement which recognises that society, environment and economy are intimately linked. She argues that the primary goal of policy should be sustainable social justice, meaning the fair and equitable distribution of social, environmental, economic and political resources between people, places and generations. Any meaningful radical green programme would therefore need to address such issues as how we shift investment and action upstream to prevent harm, instead of coping once harm has occurred; redistributing paid and unpaid time; and valuing the ‘core economy’ which consists of all the unpaid activities and relationships in everyday life, without which the formal economy would grind to a halt. It would also seek to build a fair, sufficient and sustainable social security system; to develop co-production as the standard way of getting things done; and to ‘future-proof’ policies to safeguard the interests of generations that come after us. Anna Coote puts forward a radical green agenda, based on newly published work from NEF, for a new settlement that can meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Biography
Anna Coote is Head of Social Policy in the New Economics Foundation (NEF). She is editor of Time on Our Side (NEF, 2013) which explores the case for a shorter working week. Other recent publications for NEF include The Wisdom of Prevention, Cutting It: The Big Society and the New Austerity, and 21 Hours. A leading analyst, writer and advocate in the field of social policy, Anna was responsible for ground-breaking work on health and sustainable development as Commissioner for Health with the UK Sustainable Development Commission (2000-9). She led the Healthcare Commission’s work on engaging patients and the public (2005-8) and was Director of Health Policy at the King’s Fund (1998-2004). Earlier posts include Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) from 1989-1998, Editor and Producer of current affairs television for Diverse Productions (1982-6), and Deputy Editor of the New Statesman (1978-82).

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What a green government could do if it really tried

George Monbiot George Monbiot

25 Feb

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
David Cameron promised his government would be the greenest government ever. George Monbiot says he’s failed – and failed badly. There’s clearly a need for radical change. But what could a green government do if it really wanted to be green? George Monbiot looks at what a green government’s programmes and policy could be examining,including among others, food, transport, energy, wildlife, rewilding, nuclear power and climate change and the impact this would have on individuals, communities, cities and the world. He presents the case he would make to parliament, the country, and the international negotiations on climate change.

Biography
George Monbiot studied zoology at Oxford, but his real education began when he travelled to Brazil in his twenties and joined the resistance movement defending the land of indigenous peasants. Since then he has spent his career as a journalist and environmentalist, working with others to defend the natural world he loves. His celebrated Guardian columns are syndicated all over the world and his website (www.monbiot.com) receives a quarter of a million hits a month. Monbiot is the author of the bestselling books Captive State, The Age of Consent, Bring on the Apocalypse and Heat, as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. Among the many prizes he has won is the UN Global 500 award for outstanding environmental achievement, presented to him by Nelson Mandela. His latest book is Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding.

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The only true conservationist is a Conservative

Roger Scruton Roger Scruton

5 Mar

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
The Left makes the running on environmental issues – seeing the threats to the earth being international capitalism, consumerism and the over-exploitation of natural resources. The truth is the only true conservationist and environmentalist is a Conservative. The environment is the most urgent political problem of our age; the problem is that most environmental problems are generated and resolved by ordinary people often ignored by the environmental movement. Conservatism is far better suited to tackle environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism; rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy NGOs and international committees, Scruton argues that we must all assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty. People must be empowered to take charge of their environment, to care for it as a home, and to affirm themselves through the kind of local associations that have been the traditional goal of conservative politics. This is the right path to take to ensure the future safety of our planet and our species.

Biography
Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher. He has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist. He has written widely in the press on political and cultural issues. Among many other books he is the author of Green Philosophy: How to Think Seriously About the Planet.

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Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Bristol and beyond

Professor Richard Holmes OBE, FRSL, FBA Richard Holmes

12 Mar

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
The publication of the Lyrical Ballads in Bristol in 1798 launched the Romantic poetry movement. Richard Holmes, author of the great two-volume Coleridge, and also of The Age of Wonder, looks at the life and work of Coleridge in Bristol and the Quantock Hills at this critical moment. What originally inspired the writing of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and what has this great and mysterious poem come to mean to us now? Holmes explores its varied interpretations, the revealing history of its illustrations, and its powerful emergence as a modern eco-fable. The poem speaks urgently to our own time about our duties towards the earth and the animals, and the spiritual – not merely physical – fate that may befall us should we fail in our stewardship, “alone on a wide wide sea”..

Biography
Richard Holmes is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and was made an OBE in 1992. Coleridge: Early Visions won the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year, and Coleridge: Darker Reflections won the 1999 Duff Cooper Prize and the Heinemann Award. Holmes was Professor of Biographical Studies at the University of East Anglia 2001-2007. His other books include Shelley: The Pursuit, Dr Johnson & Mr Savage, and two studies of Romantic biography and autobiography, Footsteps and Sidetracks. His group biography of Romantic poets and scientists The Age of Wonder won the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2009 in the UK, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction 2010 in the USA. His latest book is a highly unconventional history of Romantic ballooning: Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air.

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Animals 'in the Fraternity of universal Nature'

Andrew Kelly Andrew Kelly

26 Mar

6 - 7 pm, Wills Memorial Building
The Romantics took great interest in science, the natural world and animals. In his utopian community the Pantisocracy (the all-governing society – where labour would be minimised and time devoted to study, liberal discussions and educating children) Coleridge said animals were to be brothers and sisters ‘in the Fraternity of universal Nature’. His poem ‘To a Young Ass’ hailed the animal he had befriended in Jesus College as ‘Brother’. Though mocked at the time for these views, animal rights and animal welfare were debated widely amongst the Romantics and remain controversial issues today. Andrew Kelly looks at the views of the Romantics and current campaigns for animals.

Biography
Andrew Kelly is director of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Bristol Festival of Ideas, and is a visiting professor at the University of the West of England. His projects include Brunel 200, Bristol 800 and the annual Bristol Great Reading Adventure. He is the author of All Quiet on the Western Front, the Story of a Film (1998) and Cinema and the Great War (1997) among 12 other books. In 2014 he directed Bristol’s programme marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, the largest UK programme commemorating the centenary. He has campaigned on animal welfare and other social and environmental issues for 30 years. He speaks in a personal capacity.

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Re-imagining the city

Melissa Harrison Melissa Harrison

2 Apr

6 - 7.30 pm, Wills Memorial Building
Think of ‘nature’ and most of us think of the deep countryside – but the natural world can live side-by-side with us in cities, too. 82% of us now live in urban areas, and in this richly imagined journey through one day in a British city novelist and nature writer Melissa Harrison will bring to life a world that most never know is there, and explore the social and ecological benefits of reimagining our relationship with our wild urban neighbours.

Biography
Melissa Harrison worked in non-fiction publishing for several years before moving into magazines, first as an editor and then on a freelance basis, with clients including Vogue, Time Out, Stuff and Mixmag. In 2008 she began spending more time on her own writing, and she won the John Muir Trust's Award for Wild Writing in 2010. Melissa’s first novel, Clay, was published by Bloomsbury in January 2013. It was selected as an Amazon Rising Star, won the Portsmouth First Fiction Award, was named by Ali Smith as one of her books of the year and has been put on the HSC curriculum in New South Wales, Australia. Melissa writes for The FT and The Times, where she also contributes to their weekly ‘Nature Notebook’ column; her second novel, At Hawthorn Time, is published in April 2015.

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