What's Love Got To Do With It? A City Out of Thin Air

by Steven Schroeder

This collection gathers eight public lectures delivered between 2009 and 2015 under the auspices of the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults at the University of Chicago's Graham School. Schroeder approaches the lecture as scholarly work that is not simply academic, as a public reading-a performance-that weaves poetry and prose in conversation with participants who are coming and going. That makes it a kind of dance.

All of these pieces dance about politics, place, poetry, and vision-with partners that include Emily Dickinson, Miller Williams, Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, Aristotle, Tina Turner, the "Song of Songs," Henri Bergson, Karl Marx, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, Cornel West, Vaclav Havel, Saint Francis, Leonardo Boff, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, Zhuangzi, Robert Frost, John Cage, Percy Shelley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Laozi, and they begin and end by going home to Texas.

The rhythm between going home and going away is the rhyme, if not the reason, for the dispersed city on which all these lectures dwell. The city is a conversation, and conversation is necessarily improvisational. In that sense, it is a sort of song that is subject to interruption and, at its best, takes up the invitation of "Simple Gifts" to dance wherever we may be, "to turn and to turn, and to delight in the turning."


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About the Author

Steven Schroeder is a poet and visual artist who was born in Wichita Falls, grew up in the Texas Panhandle, studied at Valparaiso University and the University of Chicago (where he earned his Ph.D. in 1982), and spent many years moonlighting as a professor of philosophy and religious studies in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Shenzhen, and Chicago (after a stint in community organizing and social work in Amarillo and Pampa). He has written, co-written, or edited thirty books (though some readers have concluded that it's really thirty variations on a single book). Still fine-tuning, he has a new collection of poems (the moon, not the finger, pointing) published by Lamar University Press in 2016. More at stevenschroeder.org.