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Guide to the Paul de Man Papers
MS-C004  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Important Information for Researchers
  • Historical Background
  • Bibliography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Separation Note
  • Processing Note
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Paul de Man papers
    Date: 1948-1984
    Collection Number: MS-C004
    Creator: De Man, Paul
    Two book-length unpublished manuscripts are available online.
    Extent: 9.0 linear feet (22 boxes)
    Languages: The collection is in English and French.
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Paul de Man documenting his career as a scholar and literary theorist in the field of comparative literature, and as an academic in the United States. Files primarily contain his manuscripts and typescripts related to literary criticism, rhetoric, and critical theory, and reflect his general interests in Romanticism. In particular, materials document his approach to literary texts that became known as deconstruction. His works focus on writers and philosophers such as Hegel, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Wordsworth, and Yeats. The collection also contains published and unpublished writings, student papers, notes, teaching notebooks, and related materials.

    Important Information for Researchers

    Access

    The collection is open for research. Some family correspondence is restricted during Patricia de Man's lifetime. Access to student record material is restricted for 75 years from the latest date of the materials in those files. Restrictions are noted at the file level.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Reproduction Restriction

    All reproduction of materials written by Jacques Derrida must be authorized by designates of his heirs. Contact Special Collections and Archives for more information.

    Preferred Citation

    Paul de Man papers. MS-C004. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Patricia de Man in 1993 and 1997 via Andrzej Warminski.

    Processing History

    Processed by Jeffrey Atteberry in 1997 and Kurt Ozment in 2001. Preliminary processing by Eddie Yeghiayan, Andrzej Warminski, and Laura Clark Brown in 1993 and 1997. Guide compiled by Jeffrey Atteberry and edited by Laura Clark Brown.

    Historical Background

    Paul de Man was a prominent and influential literary critic, scholar, and teacher best known as one of the principle theorists behind an approach to literary texts that became known as deconstruction. This approach to literary texts, which had a profound effect upon the field of literary studies, was developed throughout his career in the numerous essays that appear in the collection. A biographical overview of de Man is provided, followed by a more detailed chronology of significant events and periods in de Man's career.
    Paul Adolph Michel de Man was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on December 6, 1919. He matriculated in the Free University of Brussels in 1939 as a student of chemistry. While a student, he began a career in journalism by joining the editorial board of Cahiers du Libre Examen, a student publication that addressed social and political issues from a liberal and democratic position. When the German army invaded Belgium in May 1940, he fled to southern France, where his exodus was brought to a sudden halt when he was prevented from entering Spain.
    De Man returned to Brussels in August and found employment writing a cultural column for Le Soir; between December 1940 and December 1942, he wrote a total of 170 literary and cultural articles for this collaborationist newspaper. After ceasing his column for Le Soir, de Man went to work for the publisher Agence Dechenne. He was fired in 1943 for aiding in the publication of Exercice du silence, an issue of the journal Messages that published the work of various writers associated with the French resistance. De Man spent the rest of World War II in Antwerp, translating Moby Dick into Flemish.
    At the end of the war, de Man and three partners began a publishing house, Editions Hermès, dedicated to the production of fine press books about art. Immediately following the war, de Man was called before the Auditeur Général and questioned about his activities during the occupation; no charges were ever filed against him. By 1948, the publishing house was experiencing financial difficulties, and de Man went to New York City with the intention of establishing business contacts. He took a job at the Doubleday bookstore. Hermès collapsed in 1949, and de Man remained in the United States for the rest of his life.
    De Man began his career as an academic in 1949, teaching French at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He entered the graduate program at Harvard University in 1952 and received his doctoral degree in Comparative Literature in 1960 with a dissertation entitled "Mallarmé, Yeats, and the Post-Romantic Predicament." While enrolled at Harvard, de Man held a position as a lecturer and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows.
    After receiving his degree, de Man accepted a position at Cornell University. The beginning of this period constitutes what may be considered de Man's critical phase, represented by essays such as "Mme de Staël et J.J. Rouseau." During the later years at Cornell, de Man's concerns shifted to more theoretical issues and resulted in the first edition of Blindness and Insight.
    In 1968, de Man became a professor of Humanities at John Hopkins University. In 1970, he left Hopkins and joined the faculty at Yale University, where he spent the rest of his career. While at Yale, alongside Geoffrey Hartman, J. Hillis Miller, and Jacques Derrida, de Man articulated an approach to linguistic texts that came to be known as deconstruction. Focusing primarily on works by Nietzsche and Rousseau, de Man developed in Allegories of Reading a practice of rhetorical reading that provided the methodological framework for all his subsequent work.
    De Man spent the rest of his career simultaneously pursuing two different paths. First, he undertook an evaluation of the contemporary theoretical environment and explored why the practice of rhetorical reading was resisted so strongly. At the same time, he addressed the nineteenth-century German philosophical tradition and examined the irreducible role of linguistic materiality in the disruption of aesthetic ideologies. Neither of these projects was completed, but both were reconstructed and published posthumously as The Resistance to Theory and Aesthetic Ideology.
    Paul de Man died of cancer on December 21, 1983.

    Biography/Organization History

    Chronology

    1919 Paul Adolph Michel de Man born in Antwerp on December 6th.
    1937 Enters L'Ecole Polytechnique at the University of Brussels to study engineering.
    1938 Transfers to the Faculty of Sciences at the Free University to study chemistry.
    1939 Joins editorial board of Cahiers du Libre Examen, an explicitly democratic and anti-fascist publication.
    1940 Blitzkrieg invasion of Belgium. Paul de Man flees to Southern France.
    1940 Cahiers du Libre Examen ceases publication due to Nazi censorship.
    1940 Returns to Brussels after being refused entry into Spain.
    1940 Begins writing a cultural column for Le Soir, a collaborationist newspaper.
    1942 Ceases to write for Le Soir; works for the publisher Agence Dechenne.
    1943 Fired from Agence Dechenne for aiding in the publication of Exercice du silence.
    1943 Moves to Antwerp, where he translates Moby Dick into Flemish.
    1945 Starts a publishing house called Editions Hermès, which specialized in fine press editions of art books.
    1945 Called before the tribunal established to investigate wrongdoing during the war. No charges filed against de Man.
    1948 Arrives in New York City and takes job at Doubleday Bookstore in Grand Central Station.
    1949 Begins teaching French at Bard College, where he remained until 1951.
    1951 Teaches French at Berlitz School in Boston.
    1952 Enters Harvard Graduate School.
    1954 Receives M.A. from Harvard.
    1954 Becomes Junior Fellow in Harvard's Society of Fellows.
    1954 Teaches courses as a lecturer.
    1960 Receives Ph. D. from Harvard with a dissertation entitled "Mallarmé, Yeats, and the Post-Romantic Predicament."
    1960 Moves to Cornell to accept a faculty position. Remains associated with Cornell until 1969.
    1963 Becomes Ordinarius for Comparative Literature at the University of Zurich and works with Emil Staiger and Georges Poulet. Holds this position until 1970.
    1965 Delivers "Heaven and Earth in Wordsworth and Holderlin" at Modern Language Association panel, entitled "Romanticism and Religion," chaired by Geoffrey Hartman.
    1967 Delivers "The Gauss Seminar" at Princeton University:
    1967 April 6 "Romanticism and Demystification"
    1967 April 13 "Rousseau and the Transcendence of Self"
    1967 April 20 "The Problem of Aesthetic Totality in Holderlin"
    1967 April 27 "Nature and History in Wordsworth"
    1967 May 4 "Natural Imagery and Figural Diction"
    1967 May 11 "The Romantic Heritage: Allegory and Irony in Baudelaire"
    1968 Becomes Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.
    1970 Leaves Hopkins and joins faculty at Yale University in the Department of French.
    1971 Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism is published (Oxford University Press).
    1973 On leave in Zurich for the academic year on Senior Faculty Fellowship.
    1974 Begins a three-year appointment as Chairman of Yale's Department of French.
    1975 Jacques Derrida joins the faculty at Yale.
    1977 Delivers "The Concept of Irony" at Ohio State University on April 4.
    1978 Delivers "Shelly Disfigured" in Geneva.
    1979 Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust (Yale University Press).
    1979 Teaches a course at University of Chicago during the spring semester.
    1979 Appointed Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature and French at Yale.
    1980 Delivers "Sign and Symbol in Hegel's Aesthetics" as the Renato Poggioli Lecture in Comparative Literature at Harvard University.
    1981 Trilling Seminar at Columbia University. Frank Kermode delivered "To Keep the Road Open," followed by responses by M.H. Abrams and Paul de Man, "Blocking the Road: A Response to Frank Kermode."
    1981 Delivers "Murray Krieger: A Commentary" at Northwestern University.
    1981 Delivers "Kant and the Problem of the Aesthetic" at the Modern Language Association convention in New York City.
    1982 Delivers "Sign and Symbol in Hegel's Aesthetics" in Zurich on May 3.
    1983 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University: "Anthropomorphism and Trope in Baudelaire", "Kleist's über das Marionettentheater", "Hegel on the Sublime", "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant", "Kant and Schiller", "Conclusions: Walter Benjamin's Task of the Translator"
    1983 Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. 2nd ed. Theory and History of Literature, vol. 6 (University of Minnesota Press).
    1983 Dies of cancer on December 21st.
    1984 The Rhetoric of Romanticism is published (Columbia University Press).
    1986 The Resistance to Theory is published in series Theory and History of Literature, volume 33 (University of Minnesota Press).
    1989 Critical Writings 1953-1978. Edited by Lindsay Waters. Theory and History of Literature, vol. 66 (University of Minnesota Press).
    1993 Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism: The Gauss Seminars and Other Papers. Edited by E. S. Burt, Kevin Newmark, and Andrzej Warminski (The Johns Hopkins University Press).
    1996 Aesthetic Ideology. Edited by Andrzej Warminski. Theory and History of Literature, vol. 65 (University of Minnesota Press).

    Bibliography

    Much of the biographical information used in the chronology was taken from "Paul de Man: A Chronology, 1919-1949," in Responses On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism, Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan, eds. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1989).

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Paul de Man documenting his career as a scholar and literary theorist in the field of comparative literature, and as an academic in the United States. Files primarily contain his manuscripts and typescripts related to literary criticism, rhetoric, and critical theory, and reflect his general interests in Romanticism. In particular, materials document his approach to literary texts that became known as deconstruction. His works focus on writers and philosophers such as Hegel, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Wordsworth, and Yeats. The collection also contains published and unpublished writings, student papers, notes, teaching notebooks, and related materials. The bulk of the materials are in English and some are in French and German.
    Original manuscripts of de Man's numerous published essays constitute the vast majority of the collection, but a substantial amount of teaching material is also present. In general, his writings address the various critical and theoretical issues pertinent to literary study.
    Although the collections presents a nearly comprehensive view of de Man's most important work as a literary theorist, a few periods of his career are either sparsely represented or altogether absent. In particular, no material from the wartime writings in Le Soir appear in the collection. The earliest item in the collection, an essay entitled "The Drawings of Paul Valéry," is the only piece of writing from the period between the war and his entry into Harvard University. Furthermore, apart from the dissertation, his days as a graduate student at Harvard are represented by only a few items, and the collection contains a relatively small portion of the published material that corresponds to the earliest phase of his career as a literary critic. Two book-length unpublished manuscripts, Textual Allegories and The Portable Rousseau, can be accessed through UCIspace @ the Libraries .

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in seven series.
    • Series 1. Student work, circa 1952-circa 1960. 1.2 linear feet
    • Series 2. Early writings, 1948-1982. 1.0 linear feet
    • Series 3. Later writings, circa 1972-1983. 1.2 linear feet
    • Series 4. Editorial work, 1965-1983. 0.4 linear feet
    • Series 5. Teaching files, 1957-1983. 3.4 linear feet
    • Series 6. Correspondence, 1955-1984. 1.2 linear feet
    • Series 7. Topical files, circa 1950-1983. 0.6 linear feet

    Separation Note

    The following publications were removed from this collection and cataloged separately in Special Collections and Archives:
    • Some offprints and monographs by other authors were removed to the Critical Theory Offprint Collection (MS-C07) or have been cataloged separately in Special Collections and Archives.

    Processing Note

    The organization of the collection begins with the material that reflects de Man's own career as a scholar and a teacher and ends with the items that pertain more to his personal life. The first three series reflect general phases of de Man's scholarly career: student papers, early critical works, and later theoretical work; these series are arranged chronologically. The next two series represent other aspects of de Man's career, including his work as an editor and a teacher. The remainder of the collection consists of correspondence and miscellaneous notes and items.
    When relevant, the series are subdivided according to the publishing history of de Man's major volumes, and the order of individual works within the subseries has been determined according to the date of initial publication of each item. The sequence of publication for individual items has been deduced from Tom Keenan's "Bibliography of Texts by Paul de Man," in Blindness and Insight (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986). Furthermore, in cases where there are numerous drafts or versions of the same work, individual items are arranged chronologically according to the sequence of composition. Items which cannot be placed definitively within such a chronology appear at the end of the sequence.
    De Man's draft manuscripts frequently had variant titles distinct from the published title. Titles of publications are represented in italics. Dates of individual items are included whenever possible.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    De Man, Paul -- Archives.
    Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Hölderlin, Friedrich, 1770-1843 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Mallarmé, Stéphane, 1842-1898 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 1712-1778 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Wordsworth, William, 1770-1850 -- criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Archives.
    Critical theory -- Archives.
    Criticism -- Archives.
    Literature -- History and criticism -- Archives.
    Deconstruction -- Archives.
    Romanticism -- Archives.
    French literature -- History and criticism -- Archives.
    German literature -- History and criticism -- Archives.

    Genres and Formats of Materials

    Photographic prints.
    Teaching notebooks.

    Occupations

    Literary critics.
    Theorists.

    Contributors

    De Man, Patricia, former owner.

    Titles

    Critical Theory Archive.