L’allure de liste: The Look of a List

by Martha Rust

Is it right to call a collection of images or things a list? In an early Listology post, “Ten Essentials for hiking,” we raised this question and in subsequent posts, “#adorablepets: Why Instagram Loves Lists” and “Lists and/as Artworks,” we answered it with a resounding “yes.” Following those entries, my own “Two Lists of Labors in Honor of Labor Day” and a “A list on the work of things” took the propriety of both “visual lists” and lists of things all but for granted. 

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List Restoration: An Interview With Athena Kirk

When asked to name the most famous and also oldest and longest list in literature, many a listophile would choose Homer’s catalogue of ships in the Iliad, and we would probably be correct. But would any of us have a sense of what an infinitesimal fraction of ancient Greek lists Homer’s ship list represents? Athena Kirk’s book Ancient Greek Lists: Catalogue and Inventory Across Genres (Cambridge University Press, 2021) raises the curtain on the multitudinous lists produced by the list-loving culture in Greece during Homer’s age and for generations to follow. Given its field-opening findings, we are pleased to introduce Kirk’s book to our readers by way of  the following interview with her.

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Literary Lists: Lists of and in Books

by Eva von Contzen

Alex Johnson’s A Book of Book Lists is a treasure hoard of reading lists, lists of books to read and lists having to do with reading. It contains to-read lists, inventories of bookshelves, collections of library slips, and book recommendations by writers, pop stars, presidents, and terrorists; there are prospective, fictional, metaphorical, and impossible reading lists. We learn from a list of possible titles F. Scott Fitzgerald drew up that we might have known the story of the ‘Great Gatsby’ as Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, or The High-Bouncing Love. There are many surprising finds: Marilyn Monroe’s private library contained an edition of Elizabethan plays. Queen Mary owned a doll house that had a library, which featured works only written for this specific usage, such as Poems: Abridged for Dolls and Princes, by Robert Grave. Art Garfunkel keeps a list of every book he has read since 1986 (https://www.artgarfunkel.com/library.html). The most recent one (entry 1299, from 2019) is Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. Oscar Wilde’s Reading Goal bookcase included The Prioress’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (why exactly this one, I wonder, of all the Canterbury Tales?), Goethe’s Faust, and a paperback on Egyptian Decorative Art by W.M. Flinders Petrie.

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“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 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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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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On Islands, Part 2

For an interactive version of the above map follow this link.

by Martha Rust

The Ile of Sypre [Cyprus] is abowte …. cc myle.[1]
The Ile of Rodes [Rhodes] is abowte …. clxxx myle.
The Ile of Lainge [Langeland] is abowte ….. lxxx myle.
The Ile of Negrepountis [Euboea] is abowte …. ccc myle.
The Ile of Cecilia [Sicily] is abowte …. vii c myle.
The Ile of Sardyne [Sardinia] is abowte …. vii c myle
The Ile of Mayorke [Majorca] is abowte …. cc myle
The Ile of Gret Bretayne [Great Britain] is abowte …. ml. ml. myle.
The Ile of Selandys [Zealand] is abowte …. ml. vii c myles.
The Principalite of Murrey [Peloponnese] is abowte …. vii c myles.

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