The first two and a half chapters develop Prendergast's thesis that railing texts provide a space for aesthetic experimentation and homosocial, often eroticized, ties between male authors through discussions of the Marprelate controversy, the Harvey-Nashe pamphlet wars, and the theatrical poetomachia involving Jonson, Marston, and Dekker.
The homosocial, homoerotic dynamics of the Marprelate controversy, the Harvey-Nashe pamphlets, and the poetomachia are on display in these railing works as well.
Lander's first two chapters look at two highly influential, yet markedly different, moments of late sixteenth-century publications of religious material: Foxe's Acts and Monuments (the Book of Martyrs) and the Marprelate Controversy
The Marprelate controversy
is a special case because of sharply delineated voice of the pseudonymous Martin.
Both analyze the margins of English printed Bibles, the appropriation of literary authority in works like Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar, the extratextual apparatus of Sir John Harington's translation of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, the anticlerical pamphlets of the Marprelate controversy
, and the glossed works of Ben Jonson, but Slights' larger book refers to more secondary sources and contains a fuller bibliography, along with 22 plates.
Yet, in complicating our understanding of religion/theater relations in the 1580s, the authors observe the central role the Queen's Men in challenging presbyterian puritans (as well as Catholics) near the end of the decade when they were embroiled in the Martin Marprelate controversy, staging plays in defense of the Elizabethan bishops and established church.
They visited London less later in their career, and indeed may have lost their acceptance there, where they usually performed only during the fall and Christmas seasons anyway, due to the Marprelate controversy of 1588-90.
44) Writing in 1593, Harvey might have been alluding to Lyly's involvement with the Marprelate controversy in the late 1580s when, it now seems clear, Lyly was writing comedies, possibly for performance at the Theatre as well as at Paul's, in support of the ecclesiastical establishment.
In a reversal that would become characteristic of the Marprelate controversy, however, the anti-Marprelate authors turned the charge of sophistry back on Martin in particular and on Puritans in general.
73) And, as we have seen, such parodic uses of philosophical debate had become associated, via the Marprelate controversy, with Puritan rhetoric: recall Nashe's likening of Puritan disputation to ancient "contention in the Schooles of Philosophers and Rhethoritians.
The third chapter, on the Marprelate controversy
, makes the case that where the "humanist page" framed the text and set interpretive boundaries (102), the manic glosses of the Marprelate participants subverted those conventions.