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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Spanish counterparts , and these differences will condition the emergence of a
specifically French first person , as well as a peculiarly French rhetoric of
eyewitness testimony , that will be enormously influential in the modern period .
When it became clear that the discourse of practical experience required a
rhetorical and philosophical justification that it had previously done very well
without ( certainly in merchant and seafaring circles , as the writings of Columbus
and of ...
... of oral testimony by attempting to create an " orality effect " by means of an
explicit claim to rhetorical ineptitude . ... and testimony beyond the confines of the
law courts , as he abandons the rhetoric of orality for something altogether new .