Sociology as Literature

2 April 2009, 17:00 - 19:00

Mill Lane Lecture Room 2

This lecture is part of  the conference on Friday 3 April, Disciplinary Innovation and the Humanities Centre.

Richard Sennett was born in Chicago in 1943.  He grew up in the Cabrini Green Housing project, his one of the few white families in an African-American part of the city.  At the age of six he began studying the piano and the cello, eventually working with the cellists Frank Miller of the Chicago Symphony and Claus Adam of the Julliard Quartet.  A hand-injury put a sudden end to his musical career, and he embarked on an academic program.

Mr Sennett trained at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, receiving his PhD. in 1969.  He then moved to New York University, where he has remained throughout his professional life.  In the 1970s he founded there, with Susan Sontag and Joseph Brodsky, the New York Institute for the Humanities.  In the 1980s he served as an advisor to UNESCO and as president of the American Council on Work.  In the mid-1990s Mr Sennett began to divide his time between New York University and the London School of Economics.  He currently is University Professor of the Humanities at NYU and Professor of Sociology and Academic Governor at the LSE.

Mr Sennett is married to the sociologist Saskia Sassen.  He continues to play chamber music and to conduct, for pleasure.

Mr Sennett's writings focus on work and place -- labour and cities -- as well as on social theory.  His writings on cities include  The Uses of Disorder [1970], The Fall of Public Man [1977],  The Conscience of the Eye [1990] and Flesh and Stone [1993].  His writing on work include The Hidden Injuries of Class [1972],  The Corrosion of Character [1998], Respect, [2002], and The Craftsman [2008].  Writings on social theory include Authority, [1980] and The Culture of the New Capitalism, [2006].

He has been awarded various prizes for his work, most recently  The Henkel Prize [2008], the Hegel Prize [2006],  The Lynd Award [2004], and the Amalfi Prize [2000].