Lists of Luxury: Ivory Objects in the Household Inventories of Late Medieval French Nobility

Fig. 1. Paris, Musée du Louvre. OA 122. Perceval casket. Paris, France, c.1310–30. Source: © Réunion des musées nationaux

by Katherine Sedovic

In late medieval France, luxurious objets d’art served as tangible records of wealth and social status. Objects that could be considered utilitarian, such as mirror cases, combs, and trinket-sized boxes (erroneously known as caskets), became lavish exemplars of their owners’ power, wealth, and social prestige when rendered in the sought-after and costly medium of elephant ivory. Continue reading “Lists of Luxury: Ivory Objects in the Household Inventories of Late Medieval French Nobility”

Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part I

by Rahel Orgis

Lists of various types are at the centre of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings and, tightly bound up with the narrative, they serve as creative tools that both sustain and generate the fictional universe of Middle-earth. While readers might not immediately notice their importance, lists pervade the text, both framing the narrative—in the guise of a motto and in the appendices following the third part of the novel—and occurring within the narrative proper. Tolkien presents readers with a fiction of the novel’s composition that motivates the lists in the appendices and uses them to give substance, historical depth and an impression of authenticity to his fictional universe. Continue reading “Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part I”

Medieval Lists of the Dead: What Are They and Who Reads Them?

by Laura Moncion (University of Toronto)

The premodern period was full of lists, as many of this blog’s previous entries have shown. Medieval monasteries in particular, as the bureaucratic centres of medieval Western Europe, produced and dealt with a large number of lists: the monastic hours of each day, calendars of saints’ days, monastic rules and customaries, charters, profession and patronage records, and many others. Among these types of monastic lists are lists of the dead, including the monastic necrology and liber vitae (book of life), both types of lists intended to memorialize the deceased members of a monastic community. Continue reading “Medieval Lists of the Dead: What Are They and Who Reads Them?”

Lists of names: Santa’s in particular

Sean O’Neill; © Condé Nast

by Martha Rust

In a cartoon by Sean O’Neill published in the New Yorker, Santa Claus stands behind a rope barrier looking decidedly not jolly.[1] On the other side of the rope stands a man holding a clipboard with a sheet of paper showing three columns of text. Above the door behind him, a sign reads “Club.” The cartoon’s caption translates Santa’s dour look as outrage: “Not on the list? I invented the list!” Continue reading “Lists of names: Santa’s in particular”

A Roll Call of Lovers’ Roles in Lydgate’s Temple of Glas

by Amanda Gerber

Eva von Contzen’s previous Listology post about Namwali Serpell’s story “Account” drew our attention to a list whose readers convert it into a narrative by inferring meaning from its items’ juxtaposition and sequencing. This post returns to the idea of the list as a narrative in order to examine the Temple of Glas by John Lydgate, a fifteenth-century poet whom modern scholars often denigrate for being a compiler and list-maker.[1] In the Temple of Glas, a partial adaptation of Chaucer’s House of Fame, one such narrative in the form of a list stretches past a hundred lines to describe several thousand lovers who come to present their love complaints to Venus. Continue reading “A Roll Call of Lovers’ Roles in Lydgate’s Temple of Glas”

Lists as/and Artworks

by Eva von Contzen

Can a work of visual art be a list? In The Broad in Los Angeles, there is a painting by the Californian artist John Baldessari (b. 1931) entitled “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966–68”. On a white canvas, written in black capital letters, he writes: “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell”, followed by a list of three such tips, each item introduced by a black bullet point: artists are advised to use light rather than dark colours, choose a subject that sells well (such as still lives – but without any disturbing details – or nudes), and pay attention to the subject matter (bulls and roosters are better than cows and hens). Have a look at the picture here: https://www.thebroad.org/art/john-baldessari/tips-artists-who-want-sell Continue reading “Lists as/and Artworks”

The Politics of Naming: A List by the Wife of Bath

The Ellesmere Manuscript (EL 26 C 9), f. 72 (detail) The Huntington Library, San Marino, California

by Martha Rust

As she begins her tale, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath waxes nostalgic about the olden days in Britain, when King Arthur reigned, the Elf Queen and her “joly compaignye” danced in “many a grene mede,” and all the land was “fulfild of fayerer” (‘fully filled with fairy’).[1] Continue reading “The Politics of Naming: A List by the Wife of Bath”

List Between the Lines: Teaching Visualization in Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Class. Lat. 70

by Amanda Gerber

In her most recent post on Listology.blog, Martha Rust introduced us to distinctiones, or diagrammatic arrangements of lists into visual shapes, which could then be reconstituted in different arrays for sermons. This post returns to this issue of the diagrammatic list to explore two central questions: Where does one draw the line between list and diagram? Or should a line even be drawn? And does a diagram’s formatting change how a reader conceptualizes or acts upon its itemized information? Continue reading “List Between the Lines: Teaching Visualization in Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Class. Lat. 70”

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