Pirates: History and Culture

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Pirates: History and Culture
Humanities Course
Course CodeCDOG
Years of Operation2008-2011
Sites OfferedALE, LAJ, SAN, STP, WIN
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Course Description

From the CTY Summer Catalog (2008):

Pirate culture first developed during ancient times for political, economic, and military reasons, and acts of piracy have been documented in seas all over the world. Julius Caesar was captured and held for ransom by Cilician pirates; the Alawi sultans worked with pirates based along the Barbary Coast to bring riches to Morocco; Sir Francis Drake, commissioned by none other than Queen Elizabeth I, raided harbors and attacked the Spanish Armada in the Caribbean Sea; and Japanese pirates called Wakō established a forceful presence along the Chinese and Korean coasts between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. And pirates are still active in the world today especially in places like the Pacific Coast of Latin America and the Straits of Malacca in Southeast Asia.

Students in this course examine the formation of pirate fleets and study the profiles of famous privateers and pirates like William Kidd, Edward Teach (“Blackbeard”), and Ching Shih, the woman pirate who took over her husband’s fleets off the coast of China after he died. They explore how and why the varieties of pirate culture and laws developed over time and in different parts of the world. Students analyze the socio-economic and political forces that led to the rise of piracy and the reactions of governments to this threat on the high seas. By using pirates as a lens through which to study world history and geography, students leave this course with a greater understanding of the historical forces of trade, colonialism, ethnicity, nationalism, politics, and even art and literature.