De Man, That Dangerous Supplement

Filipovic, Zlatan. 2009. De Man, That Dangerous Supplement. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (De Man, That Dangerous Supplement)
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Abstract or Description

To ask whether Paul de Man still matters is perhaps to have already answered the question. De Man's work, as J. Hillis Miller writes in a telling irony, "is a violent allergen that provokes fits of coughing, sneezing, and burning eyes, perhaps even worse symptoms, unless it can be neutralized or expelled." There is something inherently resistant in de Man then that goes beyond his wartime journalism. Dust having settled, one must have good reasons today to whip it up and risk another reactive fit. Yet it is precisely this resistance in de Man that will pivot the movement of this thesis, as it sneezes and coughs along the way. Relayed through the allergen of terms like deconstruction, unreadability, rhetoric, it will come to remark a trace of something inappropriable, inhuman in texts, which persistently stalks our attempts to be rid of it. It articulates a crisis in the empire of cognition and a disruption of epistemo-aesthetic ideologies that inform our thinking of the political. The thesis plots a narrative that interrogates the relation between the rhetorical, the inhuman and the political, which in de Man comes to activate a new exigency of reading, constantly overtasking received epistemic regimes that integrate dissention to open a passage for the new ones to emerge. What is consistently traced is the measured emptying out of ontology and psychologism from language and its opening to unmasterable linguistic agencies. This general freeing of latency in structural closures that de Man's reading always teases out not only unsettles their epistemic reliability but also calls for a permanent assault on the authoritative grounding of their legitimacy. What shocks in de Man's work, provoking systemic fits, is a kind of permanent revolution to which his writing is committed.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Epistemology, Deconstruction, Rhetoric, Linguistic Agency

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Jun 2020 15:27

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:45


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