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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However , over the course of this same period , the witness and his audience will
become increasingly estranged in both ... As circumscribed feudal communities
gradually give way to larger and more abstract collectivities , it becomes more ...
if proof by witnesses , whose [ good ] faith used to be simple and inviolable , has
become dangerous and suspicious over the course of time , one shouldn ' t
reproach antiquity for having made use of it . . . but one should rather blame the ...
... in France , the divide between inquisitional theory and actual juridical practice
becomes somewhat more intelligible . ... the community in which it was located ,
but covered anyone who happened to become involved in a legal dispute there .