Gossip, rumour, scandal and defamation are just some of the popular discourses examined in this collection of essays by an international group of scholars. Featuring research on a wide range of resource materials (including political literature, police reports, drama, ballads, contemporary fiction, poetry and caricatures) the volume provides an introduction to the history and sociology of dissent. Each chapter explores instances of subversion and scurrility in a particular historical context. Emphasis is placed on the political culture of early modern Britain where new relationships between the state and society were pioneered. From this base further chapters proceed to discuss manifestations of these relationships in other societies and during other periods. Subversion and Scurrility reveals that while the ways in which opposition is expressed are infinitely variable, the impulse to protest is a constant.

Contents: Introduction; subversion and scurrility in the politics of popular discourses, Dermot Cavanagh and Tim Kirk; Sins of the mouth: signs of subversion in medieval English cycle plays, Lynn Forest-Hill; Skelton and scurrility, Dermot Cavanagh; Rumours and risings: plebeian insurrection and the circulation of subversive discourse around 1597, Nick Cox; The verse libel: popular satire in early modern England, Andrew McRae; To ’scourge the arse / Jove’s marrow so had wasted’: scurrility and the subversion of sodomy, James Knowles; Anticlerical slander in the English Civil War: John White’s First Century of Scandalous and Malignant Priests, James Rigney; His praeludiary weapons: mocking Colonel Hewson before and after the Restoration, Neil Durkin; Innuendo and inheritance: strategies of scurrility in medieval and Renaissance Venice, Alexander Cowan; The last Austrian-Turkish war (1788-91) and public opinion in Vienna, Gerhard Ammerer; Surrealist blasphemy, Malcolm Gee; The policing of popular opinion in Nazi Germany, Tim Kirk; Subversion and squirrility in Irvine Welsh’s shorter fiction, Willy Maley; Index.