"The Diligence of the author to know all things" : literary tradition and marginal discourse in William Baldwin's Beware the cat

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Joshua Aaron Bivens (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Mary Adams

Abstract: William Baldwin’s Beware the Cat experiments with early modern literary genre and marks a transitional period in rhetoric and in political reform. Beware the Cat confronts issues of textual authority among a novice English readership, especially in the conversion of orality to manuscript and manuscript to print. Baldwin’s satire, while pointed towards the topic of religious reformation, parodies several of the most commonplace genres available in early modern England. Moreover, Baldwin’s integration of a highly critical marginal gloss acts to destabilize his entire narrative and ultimately alludes to the need for more discerning and educated reading practices. Currently, scholarship on Beware the Cat is limited to examining the discussion of religious reform and how the text integrates various genres of writing. My thesis explores the literary genres that Baldwin utilizes throughout the text such as broadside ballads, occult writings, and beast fables, and examines how he questions their merit in the marginal gloss. However, I also focus on the source materials that Baldwin references in his narrative and explore how he retells different plots to highlight what he views as a corrupt religious institution that shares a similar method of conversion to the occult. Further, the conversation between the host narrative and the marginal gloss serves to question the validity of texts that rely on hearsay and to undermine their authoritative strategies. I also concentrate on how the relationship between the narrative and marginal gloss exemplifies the type of critical discourse Baldwin believes is necessary to determine if a text is fallacious or supported by credible evidence.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Baldwin, Beware, Cat, Grimalkin, William
Baldwin, William, -- approximately 1518-1563? -- Criticism and interpretation
English fiction -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism
Literature and society -- England -- History -- 16th century
Satire, English

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