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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expectation that eyewitnesses provide quasi - objective information - that is , that
their statements are privileged sources of an epistemic truth independent of any
particular social context – is in fact neither a philosophical necessity nor a ...
... European countries from which such voyages were made required that legal
accounts of them be given to the office of the admiralty , which comprised a
separate jurisdiction within the context of increasingly nationalized systems of
However , over the course of this same period , the witness and his audience will
become increasingly estranged in both the legal and the literary context . As
circumscribed feudal communities gradually give way to larger and more abstract