This essay considers the way in which disease control is crucial in shaping communities by probing notions of two boundaries that are both political and personal—the border between the national subject and the international other, and the boundary between the self and all that lies outside of it—in a consideration of Daniel Defoe’s 1722 text, A Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe’s attitude toward infectious plague hearkens to a larger ideology of community as he incorporates into his prescriptive measures economic, medical, and social discourses. By way of examining attitudes toward national and personal boundaries, this essay focuses on Defoe’s representation of buboes, juxtaposing and exploring his depiction of suppurated and calcified sores as signifiers of transgressed or fortified boundaries of the self and the nation. An examination of Defoe’s illustration of bubonic sores shows that Defoe depicted the plague of 1665 in ways that were shaped by his conceptualization of international trade—a conceptualization that resisted nationalistic xenophobia typical of his day. Defoe’s views on trade, then, influenced his understanding of the plague. Thus he advocates permeable interpersonal and national borders that reinforce the vitalizing power of community interaction even in response to the hugely threatening potential of fatal, communicable disease.


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pp. 62-81
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