Abstract This essay examines linguistic and contextual features to understand Anne Askew's ironic performances, her positioning in rhetorical history, and her texts' persuasive power. While Askew's tactical irony has been studied as silence, resistance, and protest, this essay shows that she uses irony to undermine the communicative event and to initiate discourse without committing to cooperative communication for all audiences involved. I argue that Askew's performances are best accounted for as relevant-inappropriateness, and that a close examination of embedded features in her discourse helps us view Early Modern women's performances as inventive and productive rather than patriarchal or anti-patriarchal.

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