Abstract

In his discussion of the English quarantine practice during the Great Plague of 1665, the narrator of Daniel Defoe's novel A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) tells the stories of healthy individuals who voluntarily shut themselves up to protect themselves from the plague. The people who shut themselves up occupy a curious theoretical position: they assert their own agency at the same time that they follow the government's rules of movement control. I argue that these stories of voluntary self-confinement, which are not present in any of Defoe's major sources, may serve as an important paradigm of the birth of the discourse of bourgeois autonomy out of the spirit of governmental control.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 501-519
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-19
Open Access
No
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