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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tes revenus de tel et si grand voyage , et marrys des cas malencontreux advenu
quasiment au seuil de l ' hostel ” ( 109 ; “ And the Indian Essomericq , otherwise
called Binot , who in the aforementioned Honfleur and all along the way was well
... between his party and the Timicua : " ce pauvre Indien . . . nous discourut de
plusieurs choses , dont nous recevions un maigre plaisir , pource que nous n '
entendions que par signes ce qu ' il pouvoit concevoir ” ( “ this poor Indian . . .
And as proximity ( to Indian artifacts , the simple traveler ) replaces experience of
the “ real ” in de Certeau ' s argument , it seems we are once again talking about
interpretation , building upon objects – body , artifacts , cassava – grasped as ...
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THE WITNESS AND THE JUDGE
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