The Invention of the Eyewitness: Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France
In an examination of eyewitness travel writing in thirteenth- through sixteenth-century France, Andrea Frisch studies the figure of the witness at a historical juncture and in a cultural context in which that figure is generally thought to have begun to assume a recognizably modern form and function.
Whereas most accounts of early modern travel literature tend to read modern presuppositions about witnessing and testimony back into the material, Frisch approaches the early modern witness in terms of the cultural legacy of the Middle Ages. Through primary readings in law and theology, Frisch documents the tension between the ethical witness (the characteristic witness of premodernity) and the epistemic witness (the modern witness) and explores the impact of that tension on the figure of the witness in pre- and early modern French-language travel literature.
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Thus , Léry ' s willingness as a Calvinist to accept Tupi caouin and manioc mush
as potential analogues to the blood and body of Christ grants him the capacity to
recognize a certain parity between European and Tupi " usages . ” Léry ' s ...
... and all the infinity of trifles with which the women and girls over here ( in
Europe ) disguise themselves and of which they never have enough , are beyond
comparison the cause of more ills than the ordinary nakedness of the savage
... analogy between the ordinary comestibles of Europe and Brazil , thus
culminates in a broader moral analogy between ... view of Tupi and European
customs by providing a theory of cultural practices as contingent ( but not
arbitrary ) signs .
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THE WITNESS AND THE JUDGE
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