Theatrum Mundi LSE Literary Festival discussion

The Stones of Venice: foundations and future

Discussion hosted by Theatrum Mundi

Venice has captivated artists and writers for hundreds of years, but in a city whose literal foundations are under threat from tourism, this discussion asks what is the value of heritage, is it worth saving at any cost? And is there a future for Venice’s unique community away from the museums and palaces?

Polly Coles, environmental scientist and activist Jane da Mosto, founding partner of muf architecture/art Liza Fior, Venice in Peril Fund Chair Jonathan Keates and Theatrum Mundi Director Professor Richard Sennett took part in a discussion at this year’s LSE Literary Festival.

This event formed part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2015, which took place from Monday 23 – Saturday 28 February with the theme ‘Foundations’.


    Polly Coles

    Polly Coles is a writer and broadcaster who spent several years living in Venice. Her book The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice is based on her experience of daily life in the city.  She is an alumna of LSE.

    Liza Fior

    Liza Fior is founding partner of muf architecture/art, specialists in public realm architecture and art. muf authored Villa Frankenstein, the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2010 which took Ruskin and Venice itself as a means to examine how detail can inform strategy. Awards for muf include Public Realm Architect of the Year 2010 and the 2008 European Prize for Public Space (a first for the UK) for a new 'town square' for Barking, East London. Previously a visiting professor at Yale, Liza is a lecturer in Architecture at Central Saint Martins.

    Jonathan Keates

    Jonathan Keates is a prizewinning biographer and novelist, and Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund. His books include The Siege of Venice and Handel: The Man and His Music.

    Jane da Mosto

    Jane da Mosto is an environmental scientist and activist based in Venice. Venetian resident since 1995, Jane has held many different positions while raising her family, including scientific advisor to The Venice in Peril Fund, consultant for the OECD Territorial Review of the Venice Metropolitan Area (2010) and contributor to the UNESCO review of climate change in the Mediterranean Region (2012). She recently founded We are here Venice, a social enterprise that promotes projects that can change the future of the city, carries out research, and campaigns for the need to protect the Lagoon in order to also save Venice.

    Richard Sennett

    Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. His research interests include the relationship between urban design and urban society, urban family patterns, the urban welfare system, the history of cities and the changing nature of work. His books include The Craftsman (2008), The Culture of the New Capitalism (Yale, 2006), Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality (Penguin, 2003), The Corrosion of Character (1998), Flesh and Stone (1994) and The Fall of Public Man (1977). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of the Arts and the Academia Europea. He is past President of the American Council on Work and the former Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Recent honours and awards include The Schocken Prize, 2011; Honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University, 2010; The Spinoza Prize, 2010; The Tessenow Prize, 2009; The Gerda Henkel Prize, 2008; The European Craft Prize, 2008; and The Hegel Prize, 2006.