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Humanities Colloquium - Eva von Contzen (Freiburg): Of Cabbages and Kings: Approaching Lists in Literature

When Apr 28, 2014
from 01:15 PM to 02:00 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminar Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
Attendees Universitätsoffen / Open to university members
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From shopping lists to hit lists, in everyday life we are surrounded by lists in various forms and contexts. For centuries, lists have been used as a tool for organising human experience and knowledge. Thus it is small wonder that lists and enumerations also feature prominently in literature. Yet lists are often neglected as a truly literary element because they are practical and inherently non-literary – as one scholar puts it, “one does not read but only uses a list”. Whether as catalogue, chronicle, register, index, inventory, genealogy or lexicon, lists in literary texts create a pause because they bring the narrative flow to a halt and require the reader’s input in contextualising the listing structure. In this session I am going to introduce my project, which focuses on the functions of lists in narrative texts: Why are list structures employed in a narrative? How are they embedded in their narrative context? And how can we as readers make sense of them?


As part of my talk, I would like to discuss the practices of list-making more generally. Hence, in preparation for the meeting, I invite you to bring along a list: this could either be a list you have recently made or used yourself, such as a to-do list or a shopping list, or a list you have come across elsewhere, perhaps in your work or in another literary or non-literary context.

I am looking forward to the discussion and your thoughts on lists and listing!