Comparative Study and the Nature of Connections: Of the Aesthetic Appreciation of History

Andrew Ginger

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X has something in common with Y. Y is different from X. Boiled down to its basics, comparative study is based on these two thoughts. It is impossible to undertake comparative work without a notion that distinct things may be grouped together using the same term (for example, comparative modernist studies) There is, therefore, no comparative study without a strong notion of sameness and of commonality. Aesthetic resemblances are of fundamental importance to such connections in comparative cultural study. Put another way, comparative study involves attending to how things feel or appear to be alike, to the sensual textures of what they share, of their sameness. These sensations are those of persistence and intimacy. Rather than analysing the history of culture, we might engage in aesthetic appreciation of the similar shapes, forms, moods even that we find across its vast expanses over place and time. Rich ways of appreciating sameness may enable the marginalized and subjugated to re-assert their own value. In tracing such things, we give shape to poetics that become the very heart of how we do comparative study: vocabularies and narrative styles. More still, the aesthetic appreciation of sameness constitutes a psychological journeying.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages10
JournalModern Languages Open
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • comparative literature
  • aesthetics
  • sameness
  • commonality
  • difference
  • historiography


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