Literary Criticism In Paul De Man's The Resistance Of Theory

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In his article “The Resistance of Theory,” Paul de Man argues that literary theory is fundamentally resistant by exploring ideas around history, philosophy science, and aesthetics. He also uses the functions of language, both grammatically and semantically, to support his claim. Unlike previous theorists, de Man’s argument is more generally concerned with the reading of literary theory, rather than a theory that can be applied to a piece of literature. Despite his divergence from convention, de Man does build on previous ideas, like semiotics, phenomenology, and the univocal or equivocal reading. De Man’s discussion of the history of literary theory is integral to his argument and appears early in his article. He divides the history of literary criticism between pre-1960 and post-1960, arguing that anything pre-1960 was more widely accepted than the post-1960 theories that were met with resistance. After listing several prominent pre-1960 theorists, de Man states, “none of …show more content…
The alienation a focus on linguistics presents for texts that are rooted in aesthetic applications of language is one of de Man’s primary arguments for why the post-1960s theories are more radical and garnered more resistance. These linguistic considerations include grammar, semantics, context, readability, and tropological phrases. It is through his exploration of language that de Man reaches the conclusion that “the resistance to theory is in fact a resistance to reading” (de Man 343). In this context, de Man more specifically means reading the text in terms of theory and for the scientific forms of linguistics, which in turn demonstrates the resistance of theory to application. De Man demonstrates this difficulty in an example of Keats’ poem “The Fall of

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