2016 was a year of political convulsions and we’ll be exploring the implications of the Brexit vote and the Donald Trump victory — and much more — throughout 2017 with our focus on rebels and revolution. 2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution and we’re remembering this with films – including Hollywood’s Reds and some classics of twentieth-century revolutionary cinema – as well as talks and discussions.

Our 2017 Coleridge Lectures – inspired by Coleridge’s lectures in Bristol in the 1790s – look more widely at revolution: in relation to the law; in terms of the emotions; in Karl Marx’s early thinking; with regards to Edmund Burke; and why revolutions fail. We’ll also be looking in May at political and environmental rebels; the conservative revolutions; the fourth industrial revolution and the rise of the robots; revolutions in economic thinking; and the decline in voting  and loyalty to political parties. A panel will assess the impact of the Abortion Act – one of the most revolutionary legislations of the 1960s – 50 years on.

There are sessions on race and politics (including a showing of I Am Not Your Negro – a new documentary about James Baldwin); and Man Booker Prize-winners Paul Beatty and Arundhati Roy make special visits to the city.

And there’s more: women science writers, Mexico’s brave journalists, optimism, Leonora Carrington and the ideas of The Archers. Our third Vintage Lecture with Vintage Publishers will be given by Nicholas Hytner, who will look back at his 12 years leading the National Theatre. And we’re delighted to welcome Susannah Clapp for this year’s Observer lecture.

The cover illustration, created by artist Alys Jones, reflects various aspects of the 2017 Festival of Ideas programme revolution programme:

Clockwise from main image: modern protest including Black Lives Matter, Brexit and the Abortion Act, among others, with a reference back to the Russian Revolution; James Baldwin (the documentary I Am Not Your Negro will be screened in the festival); the Mexican flag; black politics in Britain; the Russian Revolution; Louise Bryant, author (Mirrors of Moscow and Six Red Months in Russia), journalist, and partner of John Reed (Ten Days that Shook the World) — their lives feature in the film Reds which will be shown in the festival; Stalin and science.


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Festival of Ideas April, May and June 2017 / 1.78 Mb

As ever, we could not do this work without the support of our partners and funders: Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, Business West, University of Bristol and University of the West of England; all the publishers we work with; our sponsors; and most of all our audiences, speakers and participants. Thank you all for support over 13 years – and for nearly a quarter of a century support for Bristol Cultural Development Partnership (BCDP).