The Invention of the Eyewitness

Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France

By Andrea Frisch

The Invention of the Eyewitness

198 pp., 6 x 9, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-9283-1
    Published: January 2004

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Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Romance Studies

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.


"[A] compelling study."--L'Esprit Créatur

"A compelling read, this study offers one more field of inquiry where the premodern and the postmodern are shown to bookend an era we are beginning to suspect to be an anomaly in the history of human thought rather than the paradigm."--Sixteenth Century Journal