Coleridge Lecture: Utopia and the American dream

12 May 2016, 6.30 PM - 12 May 2016, 7.45 PM

Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences, University Road, University of Bristol

The idea of utopia has always been part of the American dream – from the first Puritan settlements and  the ‘city on the hill’, through Thoreau’s Walden, the sixties counterculture and to the conservative utopian dreams of today. America was also the country where the Romantic poets –  working in the South West of England in the 1790s – had the dream of a utopian community on the banks of the Susquehanna in Philadelphia where an egalitarian community would live, learn and work. Nowhere is this search for utopia more clear than in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, where each character is searching for their own version of utopia.

Sarah Churchwell, author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby, reflects on Gatsby, the American dream and the endless search for utopia.

This lecture is part of an annual series inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s radical lectures in Bristol in 1795. The 2016 theme is Utopias. Future themes include Revolution (2017) and Peace (2018).


This event is free to attend and open to all but you must register to attend. Please visit the Festival of Ideas website for booking information.

This is a Festival of Ideas event in association with Arts Council England, University of Bristol Cabot Institute, Bristol City Council, Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations, and Bristol 800.


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