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. 

December 9th, 2018

A bookstore is more than a retail space, and on this episode of Open Stacks we welcome back old friends and longtime members of the Co-op for a celebration of community committed to a sense of time and conversation spoken across the ages. Poet David Ferry goes in search of a communal voice in his landmark translation of Virgil's The Aeneid; peace activist and Indologist David Shulman walks us through the West Bank in Palestine, retracing the "ambiguous grounds for action," freedom, and despair in territories that can't seem to coexist; and Hyde Park's own Michelle Obama returns to the Co-op to kickoff her tour for Becoming. 

Open Stacks Podcast
November 25th, 2018

Our journey into other worlds continues on this episode of Open Stacks in preparation for the after and before-lives of great books, with lions, bears, and very hungry caterpillars (oh my!) that makeup and reveal the environmental wisdom of children's literature in scientist and poet Liam Heneghan's Beasts at BedtimeThen...

Open Stacks Podcast
November 11th, 2018

Oddly Modern Fairy Tales, Late Medieval "Vision Literature," and views of books and worlds beyond our own. On this episode of Open Stacks, we go to hell and back, with fairy tale scholar ...

Open Stacks Podcast
November 8th, 2018

 Just before the fantastic Epic Reads Meet-Up this past September at 57th Street Books, we sat down with celebrated YA author Kristen Ciccarelli and our own (National Book Award finalist) Franny Billingsley, who mentored Kristen through the completion of her first novel, The Last Namsara. And it was their first time meeting face-to-face! From why fantasy is an empowering genre to where...

Open Stacks Podcast
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