Open Stacks Podcast

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From the Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago... Open Stacks brings you conversations with scholars, poets, novelists and activists on subjects as eclectic as the books on our shelves.

Recorded live at Chicago's Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Open Stacks invites listeners to sit in on the kind of candid discussions and lively debates made possible by the participation of readers in a public space, with the aim of expanding and encouraging a broader community of ideas. Join the conversation. 

October 31st, 2018

A trick-or-treat special from Penguin Book of Hell editor Scott G. Bruce. Hear more from him, along with Jack Zipes and Conor Bean in our next episode of Open Stacks, out November 11.


And listen back to last year's Tales of the (Un)Dead episode featuring Bruce and Foy Scalf, for more tales of the afterlife.

Music: ...

Open Stacks Podcast
October 28th, 2018


Elastic thinking, says theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow, isn’t about following but inventing rules, trading analytic for elastic thought, in order to adapt in an endlessly dynamic world, with non-linear approaches to life and work together. ...

Open Stacks Podcast
October 14th, 2018

Ends, beginnings, and the unreliable narrators and "signals of a spirit" in-between. On this episode of Open Stacks, Pulitzer Prize winning author Andrew Sean Greer talks us through the end of a relationship in Less, University of Chicago professor Malynne Sternstein parses Nabokov's 1957 academic parody Pnin, and Co-op booksellers recount some of their favorite campus novels of and before its time. 


(Above) Andrew Sean Greer at the Co-op, ...

Open Stacks Podcast
September 30th, 2018

Open Stacks returns from summer break with a fresh format for your ears and shelf-browsings: Long Players author Peter Coviello takes a walk through the stacks, Professor Stephen T. Asma speaks on Why We Need Religion, and the Co-op's eminent booksellers talk about George Eliot's Middlemarch. Stay tuned and curious.

We start the episode with Peter Coviello, whose stroll through the store can be found in list-form ...

Open Stacks Podcast
June 10th, 2018

This week on Open Stacks, the second episode of our occasional Biblio-files series, featuring Co-op friends and legends, with professor emerita and former University of Chicago president Hanna Holborn Gray.

Gray coaching UChicago football players for a charity Monsters of the Midway competition against the Chicago Bears, 1992. (University of Chicago Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)

Upon her appointment as president of University of...

Open Stacks Podcast
June 3rd, 2018


This week on Open Stacks, we're celebrating Chicago's own legendary Gwendolyn Brooks on her 101st birthday.  Reginald Gibbons, Angela Jackson, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Georgia Popoff, Troy Harden, and Cheryl Clarke join us for conversations and readings about her life and legacy.

In 1944 an editor at Harper & Brothers contacted Richard Wright, the author of Native Son, to ask his opinion of poems submitted for publication by a Chicago woman named Gwendolyn Brooks. Wright responded:

“They are hard and real, right out of the central core of Black Belt Negro life in urban areas. ......

Open Stacks Podcast
May 27th, 2018

This week on the program, cities shifting and shifted, and the people, institutions, and social structures that make it so. Ben Austen recounts the dissolution of Cabrini Green, America’s most iconic public housing project, on Chicago’s west side and tells a story of America’s public housing experiments and failures; LaDale C. Winling examines the role of universities on the shape of their neighborhoods and towns; and Gordon Douglas considers how DIY planning takes place, and who participates, within urban contexts.

Open Stacks Podcast
May 24th, 2018

OPEN STACKS is turning 1! Help us celebrate a year of of conversations devoted to books and book lovers by voting on your favorite episode or segment from the list below by June 24, 2018. You'll be entered to win any 5 OPEN STACKS books of your choice and we'll feature the top 5 ranked episodes on our upcoming one year anniversary show!

Please share any further thoughts on what the episode or segment meant to you and/or feedback on the podcast in general. These responses are not required, and will not impact your chances of winning, though we may use your response on our social media and elsewhere. Thanks for reading and listening with us! 

Open Stacks Podcast
May 20th, 2018

This week on Open Stacks, French part deux. Join us for tete-à-tetes with translators Jonathan Larson on Francis Ponge's Nioques of the Early-Spring and Jordan Stump on Marie NDiaye's My Heart Hemmed In, as well as University of Chicago fellow Katie Kadue on Rabelais and domestic georgics.

Find our previous episode on French literature here, featuring University of Chicago professor Alison James, translator Kit Schluter, and Albertine Bookstore bookseller Adam Hocker.


Open Stacks Podcast
May 13th, 2018

This week, a further look at the mechanisms of incarceration. 2018 Pulitzer Prize winning professor, legal scholar, and author James Forman, Jr. discusses Locking Up Our Own and prisoners rights advocate Sarah Shourd recalls and contextualizes her own and others' experiences in solitary confinement.

James Forman, Jr. spoke and conversed with a packed house at our 57th Street Books location last May. Congratulations, belatedly, to Forman for being awarded the 2018 Pulitzer in general nonfiction. Forman's Critical Reads ...

Open Stacks Podcast