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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After invoking the tradition of the popular tales , Alcofribas goes on to experiment
with several different versions of narrative authority , all of which implicate distinct
conceptions of the narrative witness . There are two significantly different ...
Though the episode has numerous precedents in the chroniques , Rabelais ' s
version explicitly problematizes medieval protocols of narrative testimony even
as it freely adopts medieval themes . In the scenes where buccal voyages take ...
Unlike the Gargantua of the chroniques , Pantagruel does not sleep through the
narrative ' s detour into his mouth . Pantagruel is not only fully awake during
Alcofribas ' s trip inside his mouth , he also continues to have adventures ( six