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 judgment rendered by the ordeal of the duel was interpreted in broadly
ethical rather than epistemic terms : rather than imply any account of an accused
person ' s behavior in the matter in question , the results of the ordeal yielded an
would make the irrelevant detour into questions of renommée when evaluating
witness testimony - questions that could ... In medieval folklaw , let us recall , the
question of the witness ' s experience was secondary to the question of his status
In the folklaw model , let us recall , the question of the witness ' s experience was
secondary , and the question of his identity central . In Gonneville ' s Relation
authentique , we saw how the question of the witness ' s identity still retained ...