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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In part because of the persistence of feudal values , juridical conceptions of the
witness continue to dominate the discourse of testimony on into the sixteenth
century , and play a significant role in shaping the figure of the eyewitness in
Juridical practice , both within and without the inquisitional setting , continued to
encompass and indeed privilege the folklaw notion of ethical truth as late as the
sixteenth century . This does not mean that medieval juridical testimony had no ...
ments went beyond a purely ideological attachment to juridical tradition , since
there were also practical reasons to favor witness testimony over written
evidence . Because witnesses had been an essential part of folklaw procedure ,
a system ...