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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and practice of it belong exclusively to a particular category of persons , judges or
professional lawyers . On the contrary : at the time ( 13th century ) , anyone could
find it necessary to personally participate in legal proceedings , since the ...
Thus , chapter three first maps the trajectory of the ethical witness in legal theory
and practice from about 1450 - 1600 before tracing a roughly parallel path
through sixteenth - century French accounts of the New World , from Gonneville '
In the institutional context of juridical practice , the witness is a species distinct
from the accused , the judge or the plaintiff . The vast majority of literary and
cultural studies of witnessing approach the topic from the standpoint of the first