Legacies of Paul de Man
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Table of Contents
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Early versions of these essays were published in Romantic Circles’ Praxis Series (http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/deman/index.html). We thank the journal Romantic Circles and the editor of its Praxis Series, Orrin N. C. Wang. Special thanks to Kate Singer for her help with many technical matters, and to Mary Powell for the many hours she spent preparing the...
Introduction: Legacies of Paul de Man
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More than twenty years after his death, Paul de Man remains a haunting presence in the American academy. His name has retained its affective charge even as the context in which it first became nationally known has receded into the past, becoming as distant as disco music or the Ford or Carter administrations. The acrid debates about deconstruction and the...
Part I: Reading
Double-Take: Reading de Man and Derrida Writing on Tropes
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De Man’s late essay ‘‘Anthropomorphism and Trope in the Lyric,’’ delivered in a series of lectures at Cornell University in the spring of 1983, begins with an argument which proceeds as a reading of the first third of a sentence in ‘‘On Truth and Lie in an Extramoral Sense,’’ the words affirming that truth is a mobile army of tropes. It’s a sentence famous or...
Reading, Begging, Paul de Man
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The opening sentence of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘‘The Man of the Crowd’’ cryptically informs us: ‘‘It was well said of a certain German book that ‘es lasst sich nicht lesen’—it does not permit itself to be read,’’ a pronouncement that returns in the final sentence of the story when the narrator concludes his comments on the ‘‘worst heart’’ in the world with...
Part II: Reading History
History against Historicism, Formal Matters, and the Event of the Text: de Man with Benjamin
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In the dynamics of the past four or five decades of literary theory and criticism, one could witness an often palpable struggle between the competing claims—and the partisans—of ‘‘theory’’ and ‘‘history.’’ The structuralism born in Saussure and reaching its methodological acme, say, in the writings and teachings of Levi-Strauss was thought—in its freezing, if...
Discontinuous Shifts: History Reading History
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Surely one of the most valuable ‘‘legacies of Paul de Man’’ is the genuinely critical conception of history he draws out of the texts of the romantics. As is well known, romantic literature was, for de Man, a privileged locus for asking the question of history (in particular, the question of our history). Indeed, one could say that de Man’s thinking of history—in...
Part III: Institutions of Pedagogy
‘‘At the Far End of This Ongoing Enterprise...'’
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Paul de Man’s brief introduction to the 1979 issue of Studies in Romanticism devoted to ‘‘The Rhetoric of Romanticism’’ might be understood as his most explicit treatment of the question of legacy. The introduction is a strange and often contradictory text in which de Man provides an historico-fictional account of his own ‘‘generation’’—understood...
Professing Literature: John Guillory’s Misreading of Paul de Man
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Both the title and the overall rationale of this essay—a review-essay focused on a book, John Guillory’s Cultural Capital, that appeared a good decade ago—merit a word of explanation. My subtitle, chosen for clarity, will have its pugnacious thrust slightly (if only slightly) muffled over the following pages, which thematize ‘‘misreading’’ not, or not only or...
Part IV: Theory, Materiality, and the Aesthetic
Thinking Singularity with Immanuel Kant and Paul de Man: Aesthetics, Epistemology, History, and Politics
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Proceeding from Immanuel Kant’s third Critique, The Critique of Judgment, and Paul de Man’s reading of Kant, this essay will discuss certain specific concepts, first, of singularity, and, second, of the relationship between the individual and the collective, based on this concept of singularity. While emerging from Kant’s analysis of aesthetics, this conceptuality...
Seeing Is Reading
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What do we see in reading? It might seem that ‘‘see’’ is a murky word, one whose conflation of sensory perception with cognition makes it a poor lens for the inspection of either. This suggestion, common in the last twenty years’ work on lyric poetry, takes its cue from Paul de Man’s emphasis on the discontinuity of phenomenal and cognitive processes. In...
Appendix 1: Courses Taught by Paul de Man during the Yale Era
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Appendix 2: Paul de Man, ‘‘Course Proposal: Literature Z’’
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Page Count: 236
Publication Year: 2007