Open Stacks Podcast

On Open Stacks, the podcast from the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, we dig through our shelves, cracking open new books and old, and speak with writers, publishers, editors, booksellers, and readers.

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Read something great lately? Read it out loud to us!

February 11th, 2018


This week on Open Stacks, we're considering Black music genres, their transformations, tropes, tenets, and migrations. Joining us are Melanie Zeck on Transformations of Black Music, Adam Gussow on Beyond the Crossroads, and Chief Wicked on lyricism in rap music. 

We started this episode with words from Nathaniel Mackey and Splay Anthem, his National Book award winning collection. The book is comprised of pieces from two serial poems by Mackey, “Mu” and “Song of Andoumboulou,” which he's been working on (and continues to write) for over twenty years. In this clip, he reads from both...

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February 4th, 2018

This week on Open Stacks, we're talking hegemonies and tech. Marie Hicks tells the story of British women codebreakers during World War II, as detailed in their book, Programmed Inequality. And Tom Mullaney talks about the century-long quest to create a tyepwriter capable of handling Chinese characters. 

It goes without saying that women have a long history in computer science. Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, worked on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine in...

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January 28th, 2018


Zeus gives birth to Athena; courtesy of NYPL

This week on the podcast, classical folklorist William Hansen recounts ancient Greek and Roman folktales from his collection, The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends, and Myths and Wendy Doniger joins us in talking about cross-cultural mythologies surrounding rings and their connection to love and sex as she writes about in her recent book, The Ring of Truth...

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January 21st, 2018

This week on Open Stacks, signs of life in film and filmic renditions of life. Noa Steimatsky, Robert Pippin, and Carl Skoggard share in the cinematic tradition of building and relaying stories and worlds with the smallest of details. 

Steimatsky guides us through the power of the human visage as it is wielded on the screen. Not mentioned in this clip, but given ample attention in her book is Carl Dreyer's gem of a silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance in the movie is often applauded due to the actress's remarkably expressive face. For example:


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January 14th, 2018

Winter is well-underway and for some of us this means the height of depression and deepened anxiety. This week on Open Stacks, Resmaa Menakem, Andrea Petersen, and Yael Shy speak about mental wellness and unwellness, and offer tools for coping.


While Colin did a fantastic reading of Sexton's "Wanting to Die," here is the poet herself:

Yael Shy's book is written for people...

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January 7th, 2018

Welcome back from our winter break, and welcome to 2018 with Open Stacks! This week on the show, empires are falling. Alfred McCoy talks In the Shadows of the American Century and Mike Duncan recalls Rome and his book The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

Destruction, from Thomas Cole's The Course of Empire...

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December 17th, 2017

 This holiday season on Open Stacks, we share stories of migration and displacement.

Poet David Ferry reads from his translation of Vergil's Aeneid. Poets Mai Der Vang, Emily Yoon, and Zhou Sivan share stories of conflict and migration. José Ángel N. & Erika L. Sanchez discuss the immigrant experience.

Stop by 57th Street Books for our free poetry gumball machine, which includes poems from Ferry and others.


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December 10th, 2017

This week, we explore modernist art and literature from Chicago to Paris to Tokyo.

Art critic Jed Perl talks about his new biography of Alexander Calder, Calder: The Conquest of Time. Liesl Olson shares revelations from Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis. Poet and translator Sho Sugita reads poems by Japanese futurist poet Hirato Renkichi.

The music from this episode is clipped from John Cage's Living Room Music, which you can hear in full here.

Below are his instructions for playing the piece. The lyrics are taken from Gertrude Stein's...

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December 3rd, 2017

This week on Open Stacks, a celebration of recent releases from University of Chicago creative writing professors. Baird Harper reads from Red Light Run and Augustus Rose shares an excerpt from The Readymade Thief. Plus, a Seminary Co-op seasonal gift to our listeners: booksellers share from their favorite reads of 2017. 

Sontag readying herself for some reading, rapturous reading.

The Susan Sontag essay quoted in this episode originally appeared in the New York Times on December 18...

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November 26th, 2017

This week on Open Stacks, we consider the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the many facets of Soviet life, and the future of Russia and the rest of the former Eastern Bloc. We'll hear from Masha Gessen on The Future is History and Putin's Russia, Julia Alekseyeva on Soviet Daughter, and Franz Nicolay on The Humorless Ladies of Border Control. Plus, University of Chicago Professor William Nickell gives a crash course in the Russian Revolution and its legacy...

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