1. When was this essay first published? (1973) Against which (to de Man) false dichotomizations is it directed? (binary inside/outside, 1515, concern with externals of literature)
2. How would you describe de Man's style?
3. What are some changes in referent which notions of inside/outside have undergone over the years? (1515, inside may be conceived of as content or form, outside as meaning or appearance)
4. What is de Man’s definition of semiology? (“science or study of signs as signifiers; it does not ask what words mean but how they mean,” 1516) Why is this liberating? (enables the bracketing of meaning)
5. What does he see as the flaw of semiology as he has encountered it in French models? (1516, grammar and rhetoric are equated; rhetoric is the study of tropes and figures, not persuasion 1516)
6. What does he believe had been the Aristotelian model for rhetoric?
7. Why is it useful or necessary to separate these two? (1516, should not ignore rhetoric, or the study of tropes and figures, as an independent set of practices; “There ought to be another perspective, complementary to the first, in which metaphor, for example, would not be defined as a substitution but as a particular type of combination,” 1517)
8. What does he find to differ with in the identification of rhetoric with persuasion? (assumes continuity between the “illocutionary realms of grammar and the perlocutionary realm of rhetoric,” 1518)
9. With what views does he credit C. S. Pierce? (represenation produces sign, interpretation not a meaning but another sign, one sign gives birth to another one, pure rhetoric)
10. Do these views suggest those of other twentieth-century theorists?
11. How does de Man define a rhetorical question? (one whose meaning cannot be decided by grammar alone, 1519)
12. What examples of rhetorical questions does de Man use--from the realm of comedy and from Yeats--to illustrate instances in which the grammatical and rhetoric functions of language may differ? (1519; e. g., in What's the difference?"--two meanings are mutually exclusive; one seems an idiom for "the differene is trivial," the other states that the difference doesn't matter; grammar alone doesn't solve meaning)
13. What is the nature of literature, conceived of in rhetorical terms? (“I would not hesitate to equate the rhetorical figural potentiality of language with literature itself,” 1520)
14. How does de Man read, "How can we know the dancer from the dance"? (He glosses: "How can we make the distinctions that will prevent us from confusing the two?"--is this the only way it can be read?)
15. Why according to him, does the first reading deconstruct the second? (1520)
16. What assertions about language are made in the passage from Proust which de Man cites, and why are these called metafigural? (1522, associations bring back memories)
17. How does de Man interpret the passage to bring forth what he sees as inconsistencies in the preference for metaphor over metonymy? (1523) In his construction, how does the passage use metonymy?
18. What does de Man believe is representative about this passage? What does he see as a central theme of European metaphysics? (the critique of metaphysics through the use of the rhetorical model of the trope, or literature, 1523)
19. What does de Man mean by the grammatization of rhetoric (as found in the Proust example)? By the rhetorization of grammar, as found in rhetorical questions? (use of semi-automatic grammatical patterns takes us back to the precision of grammar, 1524)
20. What challenge does the “grammatization of rhetoric” pose to notions of genetic history, primacy, and the autonomous power to will of the self? (1525, grammar is the actor, not individuals)
21. What according to de Man will be the task of literary criticism in the coming years? (1525, to engage in similar analyses of other authors)
22. In what context does de Man claim that, “if truth is the recognition of the systematic character of a certain kind of error, then it would be fully dependent on the prior existence of this error”? (philosophical statements which make use of poetic examples, 1525)
23. Why does de Man believe that the distinction between author and reader is one of the false distinctions that the reading makes evident”? (1525, reading uses only linguistic elements provided by the text)
24. What operation does all literature perform? ("A literary text simultaneously asserts and denies the authority of its own rhetorical mode," 1525)
25. Why is poetry the “most advanced and refined mode of deconstruction”? (1525)
26. What takes the place of prior concern with referents under deconstruction? (with the figure of the narrator, 1525)
27. What remains in the text and its figure of a narrator beyond the grammatical? (the rhetorical voice, 1526)
28. In what sense is Proust’s narrator a metaphor? (“The narrator who tells us about the impossibility of metaphor is himself, or itself, a metaphor, the metaphor of a grammatical syntagm whose meaning is the denial of metaphor stated, by antiphrasis, as its priority,” 1526)
29. What is the final result of our investigations? (suspended ignorance; “Any question about the rhetorical mode of a literary text is always a rhetorical question which does not even know whether it is really questioning”; an anxiety of ignorance, 1526)
30. How should we interpret the novel’s love interest? (“an emotive reaction to the impossibility of knowing what it [language] might be up to,” 1526)
31. Does de Man find a difference between literature and criticism? (1526, no) Why or why not?
32. Why are literature and criticism condemned to be the most rigorous and unreliable language “in terms of which man names and transforms himself”? (1526)
33. In its critical context, what benefits did de Manian criticism bring to the literary critical scene? (concern with metaphor; notion of rhetoric allied with literary trope of metaphor; clearer method to explain deconstruction)
34. What criticisms might be advanced against his methodologies? (distinction between metaphor and metonymy only one of the features of language; de Man is more adept at logical than associative features of language; believes similar method will apply to all texts)
35. In “The Return to Philology,” what point does de Man make in his memories of teaching under the new critic Reuben Brower’s supervision years earlier? (1982; cites Brower's concentration on text, that is [to De Man] philoloy, returning us to considering the forms and figures of rhetoric and language)
36. In "The Return to Philoogy," what does De Man find faulty in the opponents of deconstruction? ("scientific" vs. theological approaches) Does he leave anything out?
37. What seems his final credo? (literature should not be taught as a form of excellence but as a science of disbelief, 1531)
Page numbers are from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2001 edition.