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The Political Archive of Paul de Man

Property, Sovereignty and the Theotropic

Edited by Martin McQuillan

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Re-reads a major theorist in terms of the current crisis in sovereignty and global capital

Taking de Man’s recently published manuscript Textual Allegories as a point of departure, 13 experts, themselves significant voices in contemporary literary theory, revisit de Man’s account of Rousseau and what he calls a ‘Theotropic Allegory’ (the second to last step before ‘Political Allegory’, on the road toward a general theory of Textual Allegory). They frame de Man’s readings of Rousseau in a ‘post-theoretical’ landscape concerned with political theology, occupied with the transformation of the western model of sovereignty, and faced with the apparent collapse of the capitalist global contract. The volume is framed by an introduction by leading de Man scholar, Martin McQuillan, and concludes with an original and previously unpublished text by Paul de Man.

Key Features:

  • Presents the first published responses to a recently published de Man manuscript
  • Relates de Man’s work to key topics in contemporary Theory
  • Outstanding list of contributors
  • Includes an original unpublished text by Paul de Man on Nietzsche


Notes on contributors
Editor’s Introduction: Broken Promises: Rousseau, de Man, and Watergate, Martin McQuillan
1. Lovence in Rousseau's Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse, Etienne Balibar
2. Reading Spectacles in Rousseau’s Lettre à d’Alembert, Ellen Burt
3. The Utter Misery of the Human Mind: Apotropaic and Theotropic in de Man’s Rousseau, Nigel Mapp
4. Rhetoric and Rausch: de Man on Nietzsche on Value and Style, Stephen Barker
5. ‘Theotropic Logology? Paul de Man and Kenneth Burke’ Steven Mailloux
6. Normativity, Materiality and Inequality: The Politics of the Letter in Paul de Man, Walter Benn Michaels
7. Inscribing the Political: Paul de Man and the Wild Art of Letter Writing
Kevin Newmark
8. Mistake in Paul de Man: Violent Reading and Theotropic Violence, Marc Redfield
9. Lightstruck: "Hegel on the Sublime", Andrzej Warminski
10. De Man vs. "deconstruction"—or, Who today, speaks for the anthropocene? Tom Cohen
11. Paul de Man at Work: What Good is an Archive? J. Hillis Miller
12. DNA: de Man’s Nucleic Archive, Erin Obodiac
13. Sovereign Debt Crisis: Paul de Man and the privatization of thought, Martin McQuillan
Appendix: Nietzsche I: Rhetoric and Metaphysics
Paul de Man

About the Author

Martin McQuillan was Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural Analysis at the London Graduate School and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, London. His recent publications include Deconstruction After 9/11(London: Routledge, 2008) and Roland Barthes, or, The Profession of Cultural Studies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

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