Paul de Man (December 6, 1919 – December 21, 1983), born Paul Adolph Michel Deman was a Belgian-born literary critic and literary theorist. At the time of his death, de Man was one of the best-known literary critics in the United States—known particularly for his importation of German and French philosophical approaches into Anglo-American literary studies and critical theory.[not verified in body] Along with Jacques Derrida, he was part of an influential critical movement that went beyond traditional interpretation of literary texts to reflect on the epistemological difficulties inherent in any textual, literary, or critical activity.[not verified in body] This approach aroused considerable opposition, which de Man attributed to "resistance" inherent in the difficult enterprise of literary interpretation itself.
De Man began his teaching career in the United States at Bard College. In the late 1950s he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University, then taught at Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University,[not verified in body] and the University of Zurich. He joined 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 and chairman of the Department of Comparative Literature at Yale. De Man oversaw the dissertations of Gayatri Spivak (at Cornell), Barbara Johnson (at Yale),[not verified in body] Samuel Weber (at Cornell), and many other noted scholars.
After his death, a researcher uncovered some two hundred previously unknown articles which de Man had written in his early twenties for Belgian collaborationist newspapers during World War II, five of them implicitly and one explicitly anti-Semitic. These, in combination with explosive revelations about his domestic life and financial history, caused a scandal and provoked a reconsideration of his life and work...
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