James Joyce's Refrigerator, or, Thirteen Ways of Looking at Lists (numbers 7-13)

by Jeremy Gavron

Seven. I know, too, that the list is involved in what I know.

Eight. So we have looked at a poetry list, a memoir list and now I want to look briefly at a fiction list: “An Incomplete Timeline of What We Tried”, by Debbie Urbanski. Here are some lines from the beginning of the story, followed by some lines from the end.

Continue reading “James Joyce's Refrigerator, or, Thirteen Ways of Looking at Lists (numbers 7-13)”

"There are three things…": Introducing the Numerical Apothegm

by Martha Rust

A survey of Listology posts shows that the list form is often used to convey advice or wisdom, and when it does, the list’s items are limited to a certain number, which is then featured in its title: the Ten Essentials for Hiking, for instance, or Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers. In this post, we consider an ancient list-based genre of literature that elaborates on this kind of advisory list. Famed German literary scholar Ernst Robert Curtius (1886-1956) placed this list-based genre in the category of wisdom literature and gave it the name Zahlenspruch, or “numbered saying,” which Willard R. Trask translated as “numerical apothegm.”[1] As our examples will show, whether or not a numerical apothegm conveys wisdom, it gives a reader much to think about.[2]

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A list on the work of things

Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby MS 88, f. 97v
(© Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

by Martha Rust

The photo above is of a page in Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby MS 88, a fifteenth-century collection of miscellaneous texts in English and Latin on astronomy, medicine, divination, and theology.[1] The short, untitled work occupying this particular page creates a curious first impression. Continue reading “A list on the work of things”

A Little Political Listology: Questions for Katie Little

We at Listology recently had the pleasure of reading Katie Little’s list insights in her recent publication, “The Politics of Lists,” in the journal Exemplaria.[1] For those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading the article, Little uses medieval lists written in Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (a historical record of England compiled before the eleventh century) to re-examine modern materiality theorists’ idea that lists are ideology-free because they blend human and non-human subjects. We at Listology would like to continue this conversation about lists’ ideological and political characteristics , and the article’s author, Katherine Little, has kindly obliged us by answering some of our questions—some of which readers will find answered more extensively in her article published by Exemplaria.

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An interview with Lulah Ellender, author of Elisabeth’s Lists: A Life Between the Lines

Lulah Ellender, author of Elisabeth’s Lists: A Life Between the Lines (Granta, 2018), met her grandmother through the lists she left behind. The book reconstructs from lists the life of Lulah’s grandmother Elisabeth, who died when Lulah’s mother was nine years old. Elisabeth started writing her curious book of lists after marrying a diplomat in the 1930s. These lists, which provide glimpses into Elisabeth’s life and mind, offer Lulah a starting point for exploring the life of a grandmother she never met. The following is a conversation between Lulah Ellender and the editors of Listology.

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Two Lists of Labors in Honor of Labor Day

by Martha Rust

Today is Labor Day in the United States, a holiday that celebrates laborers and the labor movement on the first Monday in September. As Wikipedia explains in a quotable list, Labor Day honors “the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country.”[1] In addition to honoring work generally, Labor Day heralds the beginning of a new school year and the return of students and teachers to the labor of teaching and learning. While the American calendar thus pays tribute to labor annually, the western medieval calendar honored it monthly, observing a wider array of labors than its modern American counterpart. Continue reading “Two Lists of Labors in Honor of Labor Day”

The Story of Theatrical Lists

by Kerstin Fest

In the theatre we encounter stories, first and foremost those written by playwrights and acted out on stage. But there are also stories produced behind and beyond the stage.  Gaining awareness of these secondary stories and piecing them together helps one study and understand the theatre. These background stories are especially important when studying the theatre of the past considering that the more ephemeral elements of performances, such as actors’ body language, the audience’s reaction or just the overall atmosphere in the theatre on any given evening, are no longer readily accessible. There are, however, documents that offer some insight into the complex system of the theatre. Often these documents appear in the form of lists, and these lists allow us to reconstruct the secondary stories that convert plays into productions.

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