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Cosponsored by the English Department
  • Monday, March 26, 2018 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Slought, 4017 Walnut Street

Slought and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures are pleased to present "The Modernist Wound," a conversation about injury as an aesthetic principle in literary and filmic modernism. The event will feature a discussion between: 

Ian Fleishman (Assistant Professor of German, UPenn)

Nora Alter (Professor of Film and Media Studies, Temple University)

Jean-Michel Rabaté (Professor of English & Comparative Literature, UPenn)

moderated by Naomi Waltham-Smith (Assistant Professor of Music, UPenn)

The event will build upon Fleishman's forthcoming book An Aesthetics of Injury: The Narrative Wound from Baudelaire to Tarantino, which exposes wounding as a foundational principle in literary and filmic modernism. Theorizing the genre of the narrative wound—texts that aim not only to depict but also to inflict injury—An Aesthetics of Injury reveals harm as an essential aesthetic strategy in ten exemplary authors and filmmakers: Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Hélène Cixous, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schroeter, Michael Haneke, and Quentin Tarantino.

Violence in the modernist mode, an ostensible intrusion of raw bodily harm into the artwork, aspires to transcend its own textuality, and yet, the wound paradoxically remains the essence of inscription. Once the modernist emblem par excellence of an immediate aesthetic experience, the wound thus comes to be implicated in a postmodern understanding of reality reduced to ceaseless mediation. In the process, what we think of as the most real object, the human body, becomes indistinguishable from its 'nonreal' function as text. At stake is the heritage of narrative thought: both the narratological working of these texts (how they tell stories) and the underlying epistemology it reveals (whether these narrativists still believe in narrative at all).