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Encyclopedia > Paul de Man

Paul de Man (December 6, 1919December 21, 1983) was a Belgian-born deconstructionist literary critic and theorist. December 6 is the 340th day of the year (341st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... December 21 is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1983 Gregorian calendar). ... Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. ... Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. ... Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism. ...


He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard in the late 1950s. He then taught at Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Zurich, before ending up on the faculty in French and Comparative Literature at Yale University, where he was considered part of the Yale School of deconstruction. At the time of his death from cancer he was Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale. After his death, the discovery of almost 200 essays he wrote during World War II for collaborationist newspapers, including some explicitly anti-Semitic articles, caused a scandal and provoked a reconsideration of his life and work. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. ... Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. ... Cornell University is a university located in Ithaca, New York, USA. Its two medical campuses are in New York City and Education City, Qatar. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... The University of Zurich (in German: Universität Zürich) is the largest university of Switzerland, in the city of Zurich. ... “Yale” redirects here. ... The Yale school is a colloquial name for an influential group of literary critics, theorists, and philosophers, all influenced by deconstruction, who were together at Yale University in the 1970s. ... A Sterling Professorship is the highest academic rank at Yale University, awarded to a tenured faculty member considered one of the best in his field. ...

Contents

Academic work

In 1966 de Man met Jacques Derrida at a Johns Hopkins conference on structuralism at which Derrida first delivered "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences." The two became close friends and colleagues. De Man elaborated a distinct deconstruction in his philosophically-oriented literary criticism of Romanticism, both English Romanticism and German Romanticism, with particular attention to William Wordsworth, John Keats, Maurice Blanchot, Marcel Proust, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, GWF Hegel, Walter Benjamin, William Butler Yeats, and Rainer Maria Rilke, among others. Year 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the 1966 Gregorian calendar. ... Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Structuralism as a term refers to various theories across the humanities, social sciences and economics many of which share the assumption that structural relationships between concepts vary between different cultures/languages and that these relationships can be usefully exposed and explored. ... Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French literary critic and philosopher of Jewish descent, most often referenced as the founder of deconstruction. His work had a significant impact on continental philosophy and on literary theory, particularly through his long-time association with... Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. ... Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. ... Wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich Romanticism is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in 18th century Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution. ... List of romantics // Hildebrand / Nicolaas Beets (Theologian, writer and poet) Willem Bilderdijk (Poet) Jacob Geel (Scholar,writer and critic) Multatuli / Eduard Douwes Dekker (Writer) Mata Hari (courtesan) Joaquim Manuel de Macedo (novelist) José de Alencar (novelist) Castro Alves (poet) Gonçalves Dias (poet) Fagundes Varela (poet) Casimiro de Abreu (poet... For the general context, see Romanticism. ... William Wordsworth (April 7, 1770 – April 23, 1850) was a major English romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their 1798 joint publication, Lyrical Ballads. ... Keats grave in Rome (left). ... Maurice Blanchot (September 27, 1907-February 20, 2003) was a French philosopher, literary theorist and writer of fiction. ... “Proust” redirects here. ... The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philosopher. ... “Kant” redirects here. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (IPA: ) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher. ... Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (July 15, 1892 – September 27, 1940) was a German Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. ... William Butler Yeats, 1933 photograph, author unknown. ... Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German languages greatest 20th century poets. ...


While de Man's work in the 1960s is normally distinguished from his deconstructive work in the 1970s, there is considerable continuity. His 1967 essay "Criticism and Crisis" argues that because literary works are understood to be fictions rather than factual accounts, they exemplify the break between a sign and its meaning: literature "means" nothing, but critics resist this insight because it shows up "the nothingness of human matters" (de Man quoting Rousseau, one of his favorite authors). De Man would later observe that, due to this resistance to acknowledging that literature does not "mean," English departments had become "large organizations in the service of everything except their own subject matter" ("The Return to Philology"), as the study of literature became the art of applying psychology, politics, history, or other disciplines to the literary text, in an effort to make the text "mean" something.


Among the central threads running through de Man's work is his attempt to tease out the tension between rhetoric (which in de Man's usage tends to mean figural language and trope) and meaning, seeking out moments in the text where linguistic forces "tie themselves into a knot which arrests the process of understanding."[1] De Man's earlier essays from the 1960s, collected in Blindness and Insight, [2] represent an attempt to seek out these paradoxes in the texts of New Criticism and move beyond formalism. One of De Man's central topoi is of the blindness which these critical readings are predicated on, that the "insight seems instead to have been gained from a negative movement that animates the critic's thought, an unstated principle that leads his language away from its asserted stand...as if the very possibility of assertion had been put into question." [3] Here, de Man attempts to undercut the notion of the poetic work as a unified, atemporal icon, a self-possessed repository of meaning freed from the intentionalist and affective fallacies. In de Man's argument, formalist and New Critical valorization of the "organic" nature of poetry is ultimately self-defeating: the notion of the verbal icon is undermined by the irony and ambiguity inherit within it. Form ultimately acts as "both a creator and undoer of organic totalities," and "the final insight...annihilated the premises which led up to it."[4] In linguistics, trope is a rhetorical figure of speech that consists of a play on words, i. ... New Criticism was the dominant trend in English and American literary criticism of the early twentieth century, from the 1920s to the early 1960s. ... For discussion of topoi in literary theory, see literary topos. ...


In Allegories of Reading [5], de Man further explores the tensions arising in figural language in Nietzsche, Rousseau, Rilke, and Proust. In these essays, he concentrates on crucial passages which have a metalinguistic function or metacritical implications, particularly those where figural language has a dependency on classical philosophical oppositions (essence/accident, synchronic/diachronic, appearance/reality) which are so central to Western discourse. Many of the essays in this volume attempt to undercut figural totalization -- the notion that one can control or dominate a discourse or phenomenon through metaphor. In de Man's discussion of Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, for instance, he claims that genetic conceptions of history appearing in the text are undercut by the rhetorical strategies Nietzsche employs: "the deconstruction does not occur between statements, as in a logical refutation or a dialectic, but happens instead between, on the one hand, metalinguistic statements about the rhetorical nature of language and, on the other hand, a rhetorical praxis that puts these statements into question." [6] For de Man, an "Allegory of Reading" emerges when texts are subjected to such scrutiny and reveal this tension; a reading wherein the text reveals its own assumptions about language, and in so doing dictates a statement about undecidability, the difficulties inherent in totalization, their own readability, or the "limitations of textual authority."[7] Synchronic linguistics deals with a language at a specific point in time; it is opposed to diachronic linguistics (also called historical linguistics), which deals with how languages change over time. ... The adjective diachronic (from Greek elements dia through and chronos time) means historically, over time. It is generally opposed to synchronic. ... In logic, a decision problem is determining whether or not there exists a decision procedure or algorithm for a class S of questions requiring a Boolean value (i. ...


De Man is also known for subtle readings of English and German romantic and post-romantic poetry and philosophy (The Rhetoric of Romanticism) and concise and deeply ironic essays of a quasi-programmatic theoretical orientation. Specifically noteworthy is his critical dismantling of the Romatic ideology and the linguistic assumptions which underlie it. His arguments follow roughly as follows. First, de Man seeks to deconstruct the privileged claims in Romanticism of symbol over allegory and metaphor over metonomy. In his reading, because of the implication of self-identity and wholeness which is inherent in the Romantics' conception of metaphor, when this self-identity decomposes, so also does the means of overcoming the dualism between subject and object, which Romantic metaphor sought to transcend. In de Man's reading, to compensate for this inability, Romanticism constantly relies on allegory to attain the wholeness established by the totality of the symbol.[8] Wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich Romanticism is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in 18th century Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution. ... Allegory of Music by Filippino Lippi. ... Look up metaphor in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In rhetoric and cognitive linguistics, metonymy (in Greek meta = after/later and onoma = name) is the use of a single characteristic to identify a more complex entity. ... Subject (philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... In philosophy, an object is a thing, an entity, or a being. ...


In addition, in his essay "The Resistance to Theory", which explores the task and philosophical bases of literary theory, de Man uses the example of the classical trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic to argue that the use of linguistic sciences in literary theory and criticism (i.e., a structuralist approach) was able to harmonize the logical and grammatical dimension of literature, but only at the expense of effacing the rhetorical elements of texts which presented the greatest interpretive demands. Taking up the example of the title of Keats' poem The Fall of Hyperion, de Man draws out an irreducible interpretive undecidability which bears strong affinities to the same term in Derrida's work and some similarity to the notion of incommensurability as developed by Jean-François Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition and The Differend. De Man argues forcefully that the recurring motive of theoretical readings is to subsume these decisions under theoretical, futile generalizations, which are displaced in turn into harsh polemics about theory. Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism. ... See also structural analysis and structural functionalism. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge is a 1979 philosophy book by Jean-François Lyotard in which he introduced the concept of the metanarrative with the following quotation: Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives.[1] ^ Lyotard, Jean-François. ...


Influence and legacy

De Man followed developments in contemporary French literature, criticism, and theory. De Man's influence on literary criticism was considerable for many years, in no small part through his many influential students. He was a very charismatic teacher and influenced both students and fellow faculty members profoundly.


Much of de Man's work was collected or published posthumously. The Resistance to Theory was virtually complete at the time of his death. Andrzej Warminski, previously a colleague at Yale, edited the works already published which were to appear in a planned volume with the tentative title Aesthetic Ideology.


Wartime Journalism and Anti-Semitic Writing

After de Man's death, almost 200 articles he wrote during World War II for a collaborationist Belgian newspaper were discovered by Ortwin de Graef, a Belgian student researching de Man's early life and work.[9] In one piece, titled “Jews in Contemporary Literature,” de Man examined the argument that “the Jews” had “polluted” modern literature. The article argued that “our civilization” had remained healthy by resisting “the Semitic infiltration of all aspects of European life.” It endorsed sending the Jews of Europe to a colony “isolated from Europe” as “a solution to the Jewish problem.” [10] At the time De Man published the article, March 1941, Belgium had passed anti-Jewish legislation that expelled Jews from the professions of law, teaching, government service, and journalism. On August 4, 1942, the first trainload of Belgian Jews left Brussels for Auschwitz. But de Man continued to write for the Nazi-controlled newspaper Le Soir until November 1942 (although it is unlikely he was aware of what was happening to Jews in Auschwitz). [11] Collaboration, literally, consists of working together with one or more other people. ... The Jewish question, in general usage, usually refers to questions about the essential nature of Jews, often in reference to the nature of their relationship to non-Jews. ... Le Soir (meaning The Evening) is a Belgian newspaper in French. ...


The discovery of de Man's anti-semitic writing made page 1 of the New York Times,[12] and an angry debate followed: Jeffrey Mehlman, a professor of French at Boston University, declared there were “grounds for viewing the whole of deconstruction as a vast amnesty project for the politics of collaboration during World War II,” [13] while Jacques Derrida published a long piece responding to critics, declaring that “to judge, to condemn the work or the man . . . is to reproduce the exterminating gesture which one accuses de Man of not having armed himself against sooner.”[14] That seemed to some readers to draw an objectionable connection between criticism of de Man and extermination of the Jews.[15] Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. ...


In addition to the debate over the significance of de Man’s wartime writings, there was also a debate over the significance of the fact that he had hidden his collaborationist past and his anti-Semitic writing during the entire 35 years of his life in the US. De Man's colleagues, students and contemporaries attempted to come to grips with both his early anti-Semitic writings and his subsequent secrecy about them in the volume Responses: on Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism (edited by Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan; Nebraska, 1989).


Notes

  1. ^ de Man, Paul, "Shelley Disfigured" in Bloom, Harold, et. al. Deconstruction and Criticism (New York, Continuum: 1979) 44.
  2. ^ See de Man, Paul, Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971).
  3. ^ de Man, Paul, "The Rhetoric of Blindness," Blindness and Insight, 103.
  4. ^ de Man, Paul, "The Rhetoric of Blindness," Blindness and Insight, 104.
  5. ^ See de Man, Paul, Allegories of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979).
  6. ^ de Man, Allegories of Reading, 98.
  7. ^ de Man, Allegories of Reading, 99.
  8. ^ See de Man, "The Rhetoric of Temporality", Blindness and Insight.
  9. ^ for facsimiles of all the articles, see Warner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan, eds., Wartime Journalism, 1939-1943 by Paul de Man. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988.
  10. ^ ”Les Juifs dans la litterature actuelle” appears in ibid., p. 45.
  11. ^ see “Paul de Man: A Chronology, 1919-1949,” in Warner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan, eds., Responses: On Paul de Man’s Wartime Journalism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989
  12. ^ ”Yale Scholar Wrote for Pro-Nazi Newspaper,” New York Times, Dec. 1, 1987, p. 1.
  13. ^ quoted in David Lehman, "Deconstructing de Man’s Life,” Newsweek, Feb. 15, 1988, p. 63
  14. ^ Jacques Derrida, “Like the Sound of the Sea Deep within a Shell: Paul de Man’s War,” Critical Inquiry 14 (spring 1988), 590-65; quote from 651; see also the “Critical Responses” in Critical Inquiry 15 (Summer 1989, 765-811, and Derrida’s angry reply, “Biodegradables: Seven Diary Fragments,” 812-873.
  15. ^ see for example Jon Wiener, “The Responsibilities of Friendship,” Critical Inquiry 15 (summer 1989), 797.

Works

  • Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust, (ISBN 0-300-02845-8) 1979
  • Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism (2nd ed.), (ISBN 0-8166-1135-1) 1983
  • The Rhetoric of Romanticism, (ISBN 0-231-05527-7) 1984
  • The Resistance to Theory, (ISBN 0-8166-1294-3) 1986
  • Wartime Journalism, 1934-1943, (ISBN 0-8032-1684-X) eds. Werner Hamacher, Neil Heertz, Thomas Keenan, 1988
  • Critical Writings: 1953-1978, (ISBN 0-8166-1695-7) Lindsay Waters (ed.), 1989
  • Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism: The Gauss Seminar and Other Papers, (ISBN 0-8166-1695-7) eds. E. S. Burt, Kevin Newmark, and Andrzej Warminski, 1993
  • Aesthetic Ideology, (ISBN 0-8166-2204-3) ed. Andrzej Warminski, 1996

Selected secondary works

  • Cathy Caruth and Deborah Esch (eds.), Critical Encounters: Reference and Responsibility in Deconstructive Writing
  • Tom Cohen, Barbara Cohen, J. Hillis Miller, Andrzej Warminski (eds.), Material Events: Paul de Men and the Afterlife of Theory (essays pertaining to de Man's posthumously published work in Aesthetic Ideology)
  • Jacques Derrida, Memoires for Paul de Man
  • Rodolphe Gasché, The Wild Card of Reading
  • Neil Hertz, Werner Hamacher, and Thomas Keenan (eds.), Responses to Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism
  • Jon Wiener, "The Responsibilities of Friendship: Jacques Derrida on Paul de Man's Collaboration." Critical Inquiry 14 (1989), 797-803.
  • Christopher Norris, Paul de Man: Deconstruction and the Critique of Aesthetic Ideology
  • David Lehman, Signs of the times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man.

Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

See also

This is a list of notable thinkers that have been influenced by deconstruction. ...

External links

  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory

  Results from FactBites:
 
Paul de Man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (905 words)
Paul de Man (December 6, 1919 – December 21, 1983) was a Belgian-born deconstructionist literary critic and theorist.
De Man is also known for subtle readings of English and German romantic and post-romantic poetry and philosophy (The Rhetoric of Romanticism) and concise and deeply ironic essays of a quasi-programmatic theoretical orientation.
De Man was the nephew of Hendrik de Man, an eminent politician who served in the collaborationist government and whose influence probably secured Paul a position as a literary critic for Le Soir, a Brussels daily which was seized by the German occupation military government.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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