Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Laycock, Deborah


In late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England, the highwayman became an extremely popular subject of ballads, pulp biographical sketches, plays, poems, and novels. By closely examining a cross-section of these works, "Bandit States" seeks to examine the literary highwayman and his relation to authority. By establishing in Chapter 1 some of the most important characteristics of the literary highwayman̢ traits borrowed from social roles such as aristocrat, actor, and soldier̢ this study seeks to establish the highwayman as a contradictory, liminal figure representing the intersection of traditional aristocratic power structures with the early, unregulated capitalism of the early eighteenth century. Then, by tracing the development of the literary highwayman from his inception as Irish "tory" rebel, to his use as a satirical indictment of a society of "interest," to a pawn reconfigured to serve an authoritarian rhetoric, "Bandit States" uses the works of John Gay and Henry Fielding, among others, to indicate how the highwayman resisted, and was in turn subsumed by, authority.


Includes bibliographical references: 89-95

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