The phenomenon of super-radiance (Dicke effect, coherent spontaneous radiation by a gas of atoms coupled through a common radiation field) is well known in quantum optics. This review discusses similar physics that emerges in open and marginally stable quantum many-body systems. In the presence of open decay channels, the intrinsic states are coupled through the continuum. At sufficiently strong continuum coupling, the spectrum of resonances undergoes restructuring with segregation of very broad super-radiant states and trapping of remaining long-lived compound states. The appropriate formalism describing this phenomenon is based on the Feshbach projection method and effective non-Hermitian Hamiltonian. A broader generalization is related to the idea of doorway states connecting quantum states of different structures. The method is explained in detail and examples of applications are given to nuclear, atomic and particle physics. The interrelation of the collective dynamics through continuum and possible intrinsic many-body chaos is studied, including universal mesoscopic conductance fluctuations. The theory serves as a natural framework for the general description of quantum signal transmission through an open mesoscopic system.