List Cultures

My first book, List Cultures: Knowledge and Poetics from Mesopotamia to BuzzFeed is out now from Amsterdam University Press. North American distribution via University of Chicago Press.

The Preface and Intro are available online:

We live in an age of lists, from magazine features to clickbait. Given its current popularity, listing feels uniquely digital, but it is as old as civilization. Exploring a history that moves from Mesopotamia to Silicon Valley, List Cultures asks key questions about the quotidian forms and techniques that make culture.


‘Lists stretch across cultures and epochs, doing work both administrative and poetic, absorbing every conceivable thing – from virtues to vegetables, ingredients to illnesses – into their capacious form. In richly indexing the list’s operation across time and space and media, Liam Cole Young demonstrates how this humble discursive structure has profoundly shaped our sense of what composes and orders our world, of what matters.’

Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor of Media Studies, The New School, New York

‘Liam Cole Young argues eloquently for the need to pay close attention to the role that cultural techniques like list-making play in making sense of the material circumstances of everyday life. List Cultures is a significant contribution to the growing body of research on the structure and function of information genres, and will find eager readers in too many fields to enumerate.’

Darren Wershler, Concordia University Research Chair in Media and Contemporary Literature

‘Like the list itself, List Cultures travels around the world and across history, bringing together techniques from ancient writing to algorithmic operations. It bridges disciplines and infiltrates the world of art, literature, and administration. By following the humble list form, Liam Cole Young exposes the massive logistical underpinnings of culture, and in doing so, transforms our understanding of classification, data, and knowledge. List Cultures is an expansive, imaginative book that rethinks the organization of both media and media studies.’
Nicole Starosielski, Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University Steinhardt

The book is the culmination of SSHRC-funded research into the list as a cultural technique of administration and imagination. Early sketches of this project appeared in Canadian Journal of Communication 38.4 (2013) and Amodern 2: Network Archaeology (2013).


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