Special Issue "Pirates in English Literature"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Claire Jowitt
Website
Guest Editor
University of East Anglia, School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ
Interests: early modern travel writing; maritime history; how people move between cultures and ideas across time; Renaissance drama about cultural encounter, and the intersections between discourses of gender, race, colonial and/or imperial identities, and power in literature and culture
Prof. Manushag N. Powell
Website
Guest Editor
Purdue University, Department of English, Heavilon Hall, 500 Oval Dr., West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA
Interests: long eighteenth century literature and culture; periodical writing; gender and authorship; genre studies; literature of piracy; maritime history; travel writing; popular stage traditions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Literature about pirates remains one of the most enduringly popular topics for adults and children alike. In recent years, key works in pirate studies have discussed piracy and pirates as cultural intermediaries, as actors in both the formation and destruction of national and imperial identities, and as transnational and transoceanic mediators of global geo-political forces. Pirate literature is an equally diverse and energetic genre, producing notable novels, poetry, and drama, as well as other, hybrid, and experimental literary forms. Pirate literature is both multicultural and multilingual, and has been a focus of human creativity across time.

This Special Issue on Pirates in English Literature seeks to explore and interrogate similarities and differences in how pirates and piracy are represented across historical periods. ‘English’ literature is interpreted capaciously, to include works of translation and works that engage issues of cultural and linguistic transmission. Comparative treatments of piracy and pirates are welcome, and essays discussing non-traditional literary forms are encouraged, including travel writing and the literature of exploration and trade.

The editors encourage the submission of papers on all aspects of piracy in English print and manuscript cultures, including: pirates and voyages of discovery; pirates and imperialism/colonialism and/or the transatlantic and barbary slave trades; pirates as heroes; pirates as villains; pirate trials; pirate balladry; pirates and gender/sexuality; pirates and children’s literature; pirates and the Bildungsroman; pirates and the pantomime; piracy as metaphor; pirates in fact and pirates in fiction. Approaches that are interdisciplinary or emphasize the boundary-shifting and transnational qualities of piracy are especially welcome.

Abstracts of 250 words to be submitted by 1 March 2019

Final submissions to be received by 1 October 2019

Prof. Claire Jowitt
Prof. Manushag N. Powell
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Pirates
  • Caribbean
  • Barbary
  • Privateers
  • Sea Dogs
  • Treasure
  • Buccaneers
  • Corsairs

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Creative Accounting: Alternative Facts in the History of the Pirate, John Gow
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020043 - 21 May 2020
Abstract
The narratives in Captain Charles Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates (1724–1728) have often been regarded as reliable accounts of pirate activity between 1690 and 1726, in part because the book’s long-held attribution to Daniel Defoe has, until recently, granted it some measure [...] Read more.
The narratives in Captain Charles Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates (1724–1728) have often been regarded as reliable accounts of pirate activity between 1690 and 1726, in part because the book’s long-held attribution to Daniel Defoe has, until recently, granted it some measure of journalistic integrity. A closer examination of one of General History’s narratives, that of the Scottish pirate, John Gow, reveals a story filled with contradictions, loose ends, possible fabrications, and simple errors, to the point where a definitive account of Gow’s activities becomes almost impossible to determine. This paper compares the two Gow narratives found in the 1725 and 1728 editions of General History with naval reports, newspaper accounts, and pamphlet narratives, all of which offer vastly differing versions of Gow’s story. As the general outlines of the story become fixed in various tellings, we can see how the focus of these narratives shifts from being a simple record of criminal activity to a drama in which the pirate must satisfy the expectation of being hostis humani generis—the enemy of all humanity—to the point where violence, rape, murder, and other anti-social acts overshadow the maritime plundering of goods and money as the pirate’s chief defining characteristic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
Open AccessArticle
Pirates and Publicity: The Making and Unmaking of Early Modern Pirates in English and Scottish Popular Print
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010014 - 05 Feb 2020
Abstract
This essay contrasts scholarship on printed authority within buccaneer ethnographies, contemporary apologetics for colonial enterprise, and the role of publicity in the delineation of piracy within print to ask: ‘when is a pirate not a pirate?’. Beginning with the ethnographies relating to the [...] Read more.
This essay contrasts scholarship on printed authority within buccaneer ethnographies, contemporary apologetics for colonial enterprise, and the role of publicity in the delineation of piracy within print to ask: ‘when is a pirate not a pirate?’. Beginning with the ethnographies relating to the buccaneers’ crossing of the Isthmus of Darien during the ‘Pacific Adventure’ (1679–1682), this paper describes how the buccaneers escaped prosecution through their literary materials and became socially rehabilitated as credible explorers. Drawing on materials which highlight the diverse readings of piracy within the different ‘news-cultures’ and maritime traditions which existed in the Atlantic archipelago, this paper develops an argument for a ‘popular’ conception and interpretation of piracy within publicity and periodical print which reflects its utility within competing political and maritime enterprises. Using contrasting examples of the negotiation and renegotiation of what constituted ‘piracy’ within the promotion of the attempted colonisation of the Isthmus of Darien by the Company of Scotland (1696–1700), and the literary campaign which surrounded the trial of the crew of the Worcester for piracy in 1705, this essay argues for the role of ‘public opinion’ and popular print culture in the making and unmaking of pirates in early modern anglophone print. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
Open AccessArticle
From Braemar to Hollywood: The American Appropriation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Pirates
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010010 - 11 Jan 2020
Abstract
The pirate tropes that pervade popular culture today can be traced in large part to Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel, Treasure Island. However, it is the novel’s afterlife on film that has generated fictional pirates as we now understand them. By tracing [...] Read more.
The pirate tropes that pervade popular culture today can be traced in large part to Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel, Treasure Island. However, it is the novel’s afterlife on film that has generated fictional pirates as we now understand them. By tracing the transformation of the author’s pirate captain, Long John Silver, from N. C. Wyeth’s illustrations (1911) through the cinematic performances of Wallace Beery (1934) and Robert Newton (1950), this paper demonstrates that the films have created a quintessentially “American pirate”—a figure that has necessarily evolved in response to differences in medium, the performances of the leading actors, and filmgoers’ expectations. Comparing depictions of Silver’s dress, physique, and speech patterns, his role vis-à-vis Jim Hawkins, each adaptation’s narrative point of view, and Silver’s departure at the end of the films reveals that while the Silver of the silver screen may appear to represent a significant departure from the text, he embodies a nuanced reworking of and testament to the author’s original. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
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Open AccessArticle
Slippery Pirates: Generic Conventions and Discursive Instability in John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s Pirate Plays
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010007 - 31 Dec 2019
Abstract
The term piracy marks a slippery category in early modern England: as a legal denomination, it describes the feats of armed robbery at sea for which pirates were prosecuted but their state-sanctioned counterparts, privateers, were not; in a seaman’s professional life, being a [...] Read more.
The term piracy marks a slippery category in early modern England: as a legal denomination, it describes the feats of armed robbery at sea for which pirates were prosecuted but their state-sanctioned counterparts, privateers, were not; in a seaman’s professional life, being a pirate was often a phase rather than a stable marker of self-identification. Like their real-life models, literary pirates are contradictory creatures—they shed their pirate identity as quickly as they have adopted it, are used for veiled socio-political commentary, or trimmed to size in order to fit generic constraints. The slipperiness of the pirate has made him (and sometimes her) an attractive figure for early modern playwrights. I argue that John Fletcher and Philip Massinger appropriate the discursive instability of piratical individuals for their pirate plays. Rather than looking at the ideological and political implications of piracy, I analyze the pirate figures in Fletcher and Massinger’s The Double Marriage (1621) and The Sea Voyage (1622) as well as in Massinger’s The Renegado (1623–1624) and The Unnatural Combat (1624–1625) as literary creations. Alternating between the heroic and the villainous, their pirates are convenient plot devices that are attuned to the evolving generic conventions of the early Stuart stage in general and early Stuart tragicomedy in particular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
Open AccessArticle
The Early Literary Evolution of the Notorious Pirate Henry Avery
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010006 - 30 Dec 2019
Abstract
Henry Avery (alternately spelled Every) was one of the most notorious pirates of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and scholars have written much about Avery in an effort to establish the historical details of his mutiny and acts of piracy. Other [...] Read more.
Henry Avery (alternately spelled Every) was one of the most notorious pirates of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and scholars have written much about Avery in an effort to establish the historical details of his mutiny and acts of piracy. Other scholars have focused on the substantial literary production that his life occasioned; the early literary history of Avery’s exploits evolves quickly away from the known facts of his life, offering instead a literary trajectory of accumulated tropes about Avery’s motivations, actions, and transformations. This literary invention of Avery is a compelling subject in itself, particularly as writers used his story to explore pressing philosophical and political concerns of the period. In this essay, I consider how early fictions about Avery look well beyond the history of a particular pirate to ruminate on topical ideas about the state of nature, the origins of civil society, and human tendencies toward self-interest and corruption that seem—inevitably—to accompany power and threaten civil order, however newly formed or ostensibly principled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
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Open AccessArticle
Peace with Pirates? Maghrebi Maritime Combat, Diplomacy, and Trade in English Periodical News, 1622–1714
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040179 - 20 Nov 2019
Abstract
Commonly represented in contemporary texts and modern historiographical accounts as a dangerous and alien region, characterised by piracy and barbarism, the history of the early modern Maghreb and the cultural impact it had on British society is one highly limited by indirect sources, [...] Read more.
Commonly represented in contemporary texts and modern historiographical accounts as a dangerous and alien region, characterised by piracy and barbarism, the history of the early modern Maghreb and the cultural impact it had on British society is one highly limited by indirect sources, cultural, political, and religious biases, and the distorting influence of Orientalist and colonial historiography. Historians have drawn on a wide range of popular media and government-held archival material, each with its own limitations, but one important corpus has been neglected. Drawn from up-to-date and trusted sources and distributed to vast audiences from a wide range of social groups, periodical news publications provide a vast and fruitful body of sources for evaluating popular and elite English viewpoints on Maghrebi piracy. This paper draws upon a corpus of 3385 news items comprising over 360,000 words relating to the Maghreb and its people, drawn from Stuart and Republican English news publications, with a view towards examining the discourse and reality around Maghrebi maritime combat, diplomact and trade in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England. To what extent did maritime combat dominate coverage of the Maghreb, over other social, political and military events? Why did news writers use the word ‘pirate’ so infrequently to describe Maghrebi ships? Was Maghrebi piracy chaotic and unfettered, or did peace treaties and consular presence lead to stable trade relations? Were Maghrebi economies seen to be fundamentally built on naval predation, or was real benefit available from peaceful engagement with the Maghrebi states? Examining these and other questions from English news coverage, this paper argues that the material in English periodical news is generally consistent with what we know of the military, diplomatic and economic conditions of the time, surprisingly neutral in tone with a possible emphasis on positive stories when dealing with British–Maghrebi relations, and increasingly after the Restoration played a significant role in influencing British popular discourse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pirates in English Literature)
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