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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Accordingly , subsequent chapters offer a chronological account of the evolution
of the discourse of testimony in medieval and early modern Europe , focused
primarily on France . While the writings of Herodotus might seem to be an
As Terry Cochran remarks in his discussion of the relationship between print and
modernity , " the existence in multiple copies allows for no original to which the
discourse [ thus vehicled ) can be reduced . ” 1 This situation is only compounded
These self - citations create a discourse in which the business of mediating
between sign and referent is an enterprise performed by Léry ' s language itself :
By citing his own discourse , Léry positions it as a ghostly witness to the