Kari Nixon
Scholar of Medical Humanities and Victorian Literature


Copy of Article Format


In this article, I compare two kinds of sores depicted by defoe in his novel about a black plague outbreak. Juxtaposing oozing sores and contained sores, I uncover defoe’s surprising political message that open boundaries (oozing sores)—however infectious they may be—are the only means by which human life can literally flow and circulate. The closed sores, which may seem to represent safety from infection, in fact represent stagnation and death of the individual and global trade body.

Publication Info: “Keep Bleeding: Hemorrhagic Sores, Trade, and the Necessity of Leaky Boundaries in Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year.Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 14.2 (2014): 62-81.

Text-type Considered:


Texts included:

A Journal of The plague year

Conceptual Influences:





“Defoe’s depiction of the calcified sores and public health policy thus enacts a cyclical dynamic—it is influenced by his understanding of the significance of trade generally and, in turn, his attitude toward disease control influences his understanding of trade during times of epidemics—and the necessarily intertwined nature of trade and public welfare take on great import for him.”