This volume explores and challenges the extensive possible meanings and semantic connotations of the stain, including dirt, blood, dye, clue, symptom, shadow, smudge, memory, crack, trace and blindspot. The roles, functions, workings and unworkings of stains are interrogated across a range of disciplinary areas in French and Francophone literature and culture. The collection provides a theoretical framework for the significance of the stain in interpretation across a wide range of disciplines as well as offering close readings of films, photographs, paintings and literary texts in which the figure of the stain appears. In this respect, the following key notions are addressed and reconfigured: presence and absence, obscurity, visibility and legibility, form(lessness) and (non)representation, the (non)human and the animal, language and materiality, experience and knowledge, suffering and healing, remembering and forgetting. In parallel, the collection offers innovative readings of the work of key thinkers, examining how Barthes, Proust, Bataille, Camus and others engage with the topic of stains. This volume presents the stain as a powerful critical tool which complicates and contaminates historical, ethical, aesthetic and methodological boundaries. The essays celebrate the productive potential of the stain as an oblique means of accessing and uncovering significant and unexpected continuities and discontinuities.