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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And while Mandeville suggests that his journeys to the east were motivated by
his duty as a “ right heir of Christ ” to travel to the holy lands , Marco Polo ' s
travels throughout the Mongol empire are motivated by his service to the Great
If Marco serves as the Khan ' s eyes , those who receive the account of his travels
are obliged to appropriate the Khan ' s ears . Polo ' s earliest readers were thus
invited to make an imaginative identification with the Mongol emperor they may ...
Thus , when Polo ' s narrator goes on to explain that the Khan ' s desire for news
of the far - flung reaches of his empire led Marco to make a special effort to learn
as much as he could about the people and places he encountered , so that he ...
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THE WITNESS AND THE JUDGE
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