Open Access

Practices of Comparing

Towards a New Understanding of a Fundamental Human Practice


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Angelika Epple(Hg.), Walter Erhart(Hg.), Johannes Grave(Hg.), Practices of Comparing (2020), transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, ISBN: 9783839451663

Getrackt seit 05/2018


Beschreibung / Abstract

Practices of comparing shape how we perceive, organize, and change the world. Supposedly innocent, practices of comparing play a decisive role in forming categories, boundaries, and hierarchies; but they can also give an impetus to question and change such structures. Like almost no other human practice, comparing pervades all social, political, economic, and cultural spheres. This volume outlines the program of a new research agenda that places comparative practices at the center of an interdisciplinary exploration. Its contributions combine case studies with overarching systematic considerations. They show what insights can be gained and which further questions arise when one makes a seemingly trivial practice - comparing - the subject of in-depth research.


Angelika Epple,
born 1966, is vice-rector for International Affairs and Diversity at Bielefeld University and teaches history with a focus on the history of the 19th and 20th century. Since January 2017, she has been the spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB 1288 Practices of Comparing. She has broadly published on the history of globalization/s, theory of history, and historiography.
Walter Erhart,
born 1959, teaches German literature at Bielefeld University. Since 2017, he has been vice-speaker of the Collaborative Research Center SFB 1288 Practices of Comparing. His research focuses on German literature from the 18th to the 20th century and practices of comparing in world travel literature and in autobiographical writing.
Johannes Grave,
born 1976, teaches art history at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Since 2017, he has been principal investigator in the Collaborative Research Center SFB 1288 Practices of Comparing. His research focuses on theories of the image, the temporality of pictures and of their perception, practices of comparing, art around 1800, as well as Italian paintings of the early Renaissance.


Open Access Angabe

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (CC BY-NC 4.0)


  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Typologies and Forms
  • Practices of Comparing
  • Preliminary Typology of Comparative Utterances
  • Incomparability
  • Odysseus, Blackbirds, and Rain Barrels
  • Where Do Rankings Come From?
  • Histories
  • The Weight of Comparing in Medieval England
  • The Shifting Grounds of Comparison in the French Renaissance
  • Comparison and East-West Encounter
  • Japan as the Absolute ‘Other’
  • “Goût de Comparaison”
  • Inventing White Beauty and Fighting Black Slavery
  • The Politicisation of Comparisons
  • Genealogies of Modernism
  • Comparing in the Digital Age
  • Authors and Editors

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