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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.4, 653 ~ 674, 2020
(Un)Becoming English: Performing Nationality and Motherhood in Daniel Defoe’s The Fortunate Mistress, or Roxana
Jane Lim
This article investigates Roxana’s turbulent national performance by attending to the relationship between Turkishness and Englishness expressed through the protagonist’s two names, “Roxana” and “Mother.” Arguing that Roxana’s impulse for cultural masquerade originates from her nebulous national heritage, this paper examines how the name “Roxana” generates vexing questions about the protagonist’s sense of social belonging. Specifically, I examine how Roxana’s political performance finds its most troubling expression through her negotiation with English motherhood. Roxana’s pseudo-Turkishness, rather than obscuring her Englishness, corroborates her identity as an English mother. Put another way, Roxana’s oriental naming was contingent on, not contrary to, an English model of discursive selfhood that Roxana refuses to express through her maternal body. She unmothers herself, even when her monstrous motherhood dubs her Englishness as unbecoming. That said, the article attempts to show why Roxana compulsively applies for a cosmopolitan citizenship that belies her nationality and race, further identifying how Turkishness and Englishness, two seemingly disparate identities, converge through Roxana’s maternal body. Roxana, then, posits the origin of Englishness not as engendered by Enlightenment thoughts of endoculturalism or the self-enclosed domestic household, but from the ruptures heralded by a cosmopolitan transaction of the maternal body posing as the Other.
Key Words
Daniel Defoe, Roxana, Englishness, Turkishness, motherhood
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