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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As we shall see , the distinct presuppositions about reading martyrological
testimony held by Catholics and Huguenots work their way into sixteenth -
century French accounts of the New World . SIGN LANGUAGE I : THE TALKING
BODY In a ...
Since they do not share a common language with their interlocutors , they are
forced to take recourse to gesture . It is important to note , however , that the
language of signs is not characterized in this scene as a primitive tool of last
resort – the ...
For his part , Agamben even suggests that the relationship between being and
language is inherently testimonial , and that the subject as such is in the position
of a witness : “ [ the ] impossibility of conjoining the living being with language –