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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tablishing the epistemological authority of experience alongside , if not
necessarily over , the store of knowledge inherited from both pagan Antiquity and
the Christian Middle Ages . 1 Yet Gonneville never uses the term " experience " ;
It is only when testimony itself comes to be considered a primarily epistemic
rather than a primarily ethical discourse that ( epistemic ) experience will become
both the subject and the very ground of testimony . This is precisely what
represented by Plato and Aristotle , quickly become the experiences of the
French nation or European society or even ... Montaigne writes that " ce que nous
voyons par experience en ces nations - lÓ , surpasse . . . la conception et le desir