Abstract

Introduction

This essay introduces the special issue "Legacies of Paul de Man." It argues that, more than twenty years after his death, de Man remains a haunting presence in the American academy. A ghost who has never quite been laid to rest, and whose name still possesses conjuring power, de Man continues symbolically to embody an aspect of "theory" that resists easy routinization. Routinely taken to personify routinized academic "deconstruction," de Man routinely becomes an irritant in excess of the obsessions he inspires. His legacy, therefore, remains ongoing and uncertain, yet also massive and unavoidable.