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: 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, 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”

#adorablepets: Why Instagram Loves Lists

by Julia Böckling

In her post about the Ten Essentials of Hiking, Martha Rust asks whether a collection of pictures can still be a list. This post proposes that in the case of Instagram, an app devoted to collections of pictures, the answer is “yes”. As the listicle below will show, even non-traditional (picture) lists, that is, lists that do not aspire to listhood, share the same / similar functions as traditional lists and should therefore be taken into account when analyzing lists online. Continue reading “#adorablepets: Why Instagram Loves Lists”

Friending Thebes

by Amanda Gerber

“Of friends,” one fifteenth-century reader dubs the topic of his list addition to Book 1 of Statius’s Thebaid. As demonstrated in my last blog post about Statius, “Epic Hit List,” readers might more readily associate the Roman’s bloody epic poems with murder victims than friends, but friendship occupies the mind of this Thebaid reader nonetheless, prompting a list of four pairs of famed heroic friends. With each pair of names introduced by a paraph marker and a bracket to connect them, the annotator commemorates some of antiquity’s most renowned heroic couples almost as heroic couplets: Continue reading “Friending Thebes”

More than Numbers: The Storytelling of Bank Statements. On Namwali Serpell’s Short Story “Account”

by Eva von Contzen

Bank statements are hardly something we approach with excitement: they are the epitome of lists as a means to an end, and that end is to record and track an account’s moving money. While their practical functions are undeniably important, bank statements seem to be as far removed from literary texts as it gets. However, a recent short story by the Zambian writer and academic Namwali Serpell turns these expectations upside down and uses the form of a bank statement – that is, nothing but a bank statement – to tell a story. Continue reading “More than Numbers: The Storytelling of Bank Statements. On Namwali Serpell’s Short Story “Account””

“Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers”: A Listicle Review

by Martha Rust

In 2016, the word “listicle” earned a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, where it’s defined as “[a] journalistic article or other piece of writing presented wholly or partly in the form of a list.” [1] With this post we introduce a new Listology feature, the listicle review. Blog posts in this genre will reflect on listicles that display interesting features of the list form. Our inaugural listicle review takes a look at Shea Tuttle’s wonderful tribute to the beloved Fred McFeely Rogers, “Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers That Can Help Americans Be Neighbors Again,” placing it in the context of a long tradition of lists of sevens.[2]
Continue reading ““Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers”: A Listicle Review”

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