Episode 64: Lists

Friday, April 6th, 2018

‘Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience’ (Ernest Hemingway)


Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where we demonstrate how absolutely everything has a history and, crucially, how those histories link together in unexpected ways!


For this episode let us join the carpet fitter of the hall of yesterday, Professor James Daybell, and the invader of all invasions, Dr Sam Willis, as they enumerate, document, and itemise the unexpected history of lists!

With pens poised over their journals, James and Sam lead you on a journey from the Italian philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco’s concept of the list as the origin of culture to the late sixteenth century spiritual diary of Richard Rodgers and his list of pros and cons for remarriage, from the inventory of damage sustained by British warships engaged in the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars to the New Years Gift Rolls of the Tudor monarchs and who was in favour at court, from the astonishing ‘Remembrances’ detailing Thomas Cromwell’s day-to-day work load from 1530-1539 to ship silhouettes and national security during World War II, and from the inventory of Lady Ann Townshend’s possessions in 1608 to a tantalising glimpse of the list drawn up by Christopher Wren of damages to the house of Admiral John Benbow caused by a rather distinguished house guest.


With Rolodexes at the ready Sam and James discover that the memorandum of this unexpected history is actually all about; organisation and practicality, chaos and order, priorities and expression, information and surveillance, preparations and transactions, bureaucracy and administration, data and security, gender and status, privacy and carnage.


If you are adrift on a raft, then we can help! Listen out as James plays guess the number of Masked Boobies to find out how far from land you are (disclaimer – this may or may not be accurate…).


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