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Violent Language and Its Use in Religious Conflicts in Elizabethan England

Discourses on Values and Norms in the Marprelate Controversy (1588/89)

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Sarah Ströer

Elizabethans saw eloquent language as the mark of the civilized gentleman. At the same time, they believed language to be able to harm, analogous to physical violence. Such concepts of language have important implications for the study of religious controversies of the time, in which the authors often attacked each other harshly via printed language. Employing historical discourse analysis, this study analyses Elizabethan concepts of violent language and shows under which circumstances Elizabethans understood language use as violence. In a second step, the main contributions in one of the most notorious theological controversies of the time, the Marprelate controversy, are analysed in terms of how these concepts of violent language were used as strategies of legitimation and de-legitimation.

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Acknowledgements

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I have always been one to believe that people will come into your life at just the right time and for just the right reasons. During the last roughly four years this has definitely been true for me. This book was presented as a doctoral dissertation at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster in December 2016. It would never have happened without my supervisor Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser, who gave me a job and the initial idea to think about language and violence. I am eternally grateful to her for introducing me to the field of Book Studies, and I vividly remember sitting in my first lecture in the winter of 2007 on the history of reading, thinking I never want to do anything else again. Thank you for always pushing me to be my academic best. I am also grateful for Rüdiger Schmitt for agreeing to be my second supervisor, for proofreading my drafts, and for explaining theological minutiae.

This thesis would also never have happened without the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics,” which provided the best environment for a PhD student that I could imagine. I am especially grateful for the support of my mentor Felicity Jensz, for her open-door policy, feedback and help on a number of chapter drafts and papers, and for cheering me on, especially during the last phase. I also thank my fellow PhD students for feedback and support and especially Vít Kortus, Kathi Wolff, Lennart...

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