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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9 This essay is usually read as touting the epistemic superiority of concrete ,
firsthand experience over theoretical extrapolations - a view that is certainly
consonant with Montaigne ' s brand of skepticism . Once we recognize that this
position is ...
Rather than present his witness with the challenge of representing pure
experience , Montaigne himself will provide a secondperson perspective on the
simple man that will enable him to recreate the ethical dialogue on which pre -
and early ...
Conversely , Montaigne discounts the testimony of fines gens on the grounds that
they interpret what they see – in other words , he finds it problematic that they
make judgments about their experiences . And yet , when he laments the fact that