In 1795 Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave a series of radical lectures in Bristol. They questioned religion, attacked the slave trade, condemned the war with France and criticised taxation. They promoted wide debate and were censured by the city’s merchants. Inspired these lectures, we’ve run an annual Coleridge Series since 2015.

Our fifth Coleridge Series looks at significant events and themes that make up the modern age of austerity.

In 1963 Philip French and Michael Sissons edited a collection of essays: Age Of Austerity 1945-1951. These looked at the hope and idealism of the first majority Labour government, and, even though there were shortages and rationing still, showed the sense of involvement in national affairs, ‘of taking part in a great social experiment’, during that time.

In 2019 Britain will enter its tenth year of austerity. This time there is no shared vision or optimism. Most people have come out of serious economic problems hardly better off than when the financial crisis began. And future prospects offer limited hope with many fearing that generational progression – the child will be better off than the parent – will no longer happen. There are wider fears of the decline of democracy and free speech, the rise of populism, fake news and climate change. And there’s Brexit.

What does this modern age of austerity mean? Our speakers look at some of these issues, the problems, the opportunities and hopes.

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You can listen to audio recordings of previous Coleridge Series on SoundCloud.