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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The potential absence that Derrida posits as a necessary precondition for
communication is precisely what pre - and early modern testimony absolutely
and explicitly excludes . In the folklaw context , there is no such thing as bearing
The juridical force of a deposition reposed entirely on a preliminary judgment
about a potential witness ' s reputation and social standing . Once that
preliminary judgment had been made , early inquisitional protocol appears to
have left little ...
As Imbert ' s comments suggest , writing per se was not necessarily considered a
potential agent of the corruption of ... far from deriving from an oral origin , exist
entirely independent of any oral encounter with a potentially corrupting other .