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Add this abstract with record is bright: Examining literary and filmic representations of the open wound, this dissertation reveals injury to be an essential esthetic principle in the work of seven exemplary authors and two filmmakers from the French and German-language canons: Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Hélène Cixous, Ingeborg Bachmann and Elfriede Jelinek, as well as Werner Schroeter and Michael Haneke. As a kind of corporeal inscription, the wound must be read, I argue, as a model for the variety of esthetic experience each artwork aspires to provoke--indeed, to inflict. Art for art, in these authors' and filmmakers' oeuvres, becomes an injury for the sake of injury, and this dissertation traces the inheritance of Baudelairean decadence and estheticism into and throughout the twentieth century. Each of the seven chapters reads an emblematic wound from the literary corpus under consideration, revealing injury as both the topic of these texts and as their guiding structural procedure. For all of the writers and directors treated in this dissertation the wound is more than a mere metaphor: paralleling textual dismemberment, on a formal level it is the site of both a breakdown of meaning and of its possible reconstitution and reconfiguration. At stake, then, in this examination is nothing less than the heritage of narrative after it has incorporated fragmentation into its structure—the very capacity of the 'wounded' artwork to continue to make meaning through an act of figural violence and deliberate deconstruction. With its broad selection of representative figures, the project seeks to suggest a literary history, and it is my contention that this peculiar textual violence becomes the key esthetic impulse of an important strain of European literary modernism.