AFTER DE MAN

The work, life, and death of Paul de Man have had a profound effect on English studies and in the wider field of critical and cultural theory. The phrase ‘after de Man’ might be interpreted in a number of ways. There is its literal meaning of the intellectual space of theory and literary studies following the death of Paul de Man, what in temporal terms comes after Paul de Man. In this sense this chapter will consider the work of some of the critical thinkers who were taught and trained by de Man: Barbara Johnson, Peter Brooks, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. However, the phrase could also be read as it often appears in Art History, in which one painting is said to be after (in the manner of) a greater or preceding artist: after Leonardo. Following this reading the chapter will also be concerned with an example of criticism which is after (in the style of) de Man, Geoffrey Bennington’s 1989 essay ‘Aberrations: de Man (and) the Machine’ which is also a study of the use of machines as a metaphor in de Man’s writing. Here Bennington points towards de Man’s importance for an entire branch of theoretical inquiry into technology. The final sense in which this chapter will read the phrase ‘after de Man’ is that of ‘after’ as an adverb, getting after, or going in search of, Paul de Man. This meaning compels the reader to go

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