Thomas Nashe and Early Modern Protest Literature.
Abstract: Thomas Nashe's innovative style, comedy, and contributions to
topical Elizabethan satire have historically distracted readers from recognizing his
serious subtexts of sociopolitical protest. This dissertation argues that Nashe's renowned
polyvocality disguises these subtexts by enacting a social and intertextual extension of
rhetorical invention that is best expressed as "conversatio... read moren." Only by re-situating Nashe's
work amidst its classical, late medieval, and contemporary conversational networks may we
grasp his paradoxically conservative attitude toward radicalizing English literature and
society. Drawing on these contexts, each chapter demonstrates how Nashe's works protest the
inequities arising from a crisis of English identity and rhetoric for which he holds the
Crown partially responsible. Chapter One, "In the Authours Absence": Rhetorical Usurpations
of Authority by Richard Jones and Thomas Nashe," analyzes shared practices which help both
printers and writers authorize their literary products and, occasionally, rhetorically
hijack others'. The second chapter, "At the Crossroads: Classical and Vernacular English
Protest Literature in Pierce Penilesse," examines Nashe's discursive translations of
classical, late medieval, and contemporary rhetorical gestures that protest a crisis of
English rhetoric and identity. The third chapter, "Red Herrings and the `Stench of Fish':
Subverting Praise in Lenten Stuffe," upends critical assumptions that Nashe's encomium of
the red herring and town of Yarmouth is sincere by revealing a revisionary English
chronicle history in conversation with Erasmus' "A Fish Diet" that protests a long history
of Crown inequity. Chapter Four, `"Cupid's golden hook': Discord and Protest among
Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Versions of `Hero and Leander,'" offers the first
comprehensive analysis of the interplay among Christopher Marlowe's "Hero and Leander,"
Nashe's adaptation of the lovers' story in Lenten Stuffe, and Ben Jonson's Bartholomew
Fair. In conversation, these works convey a central theme of rupture, specifically the
disjunction of classically inspired amity. Situating Nashe's literary contributions in
their conversational networks clarifies his pivotal role in the emergence of early modern
English literature while illuminating some of the ways conversation functions as a
compositional methodology in the sixteenth- and seventeenth centuries.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2013.
Submitted to the Dept. of English.
Advisor: Judith Haber.
Committee: Kevin Dunn, John Fyler, and John Tobin.
Keywords: Literature, and British and Irish literature.read less