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    Piracy, the sea, and self-determination in early modern English writing

    Jones, Susan (2021) Piracy, the sea, and self-determination in early modern English writing. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This study investigates what it meant to choose to be a pirate in early modern England. It examines a range of texts primarily from the period 1580-1680 and explores how the choice to participate in piracy was perceived by participants, by the law and by wider society. The texts discussed include manuscript writings of seamen, legal and ecclesiastical texts, and popular literature including news pamphlets, travel writing, drama and ballads. The thesis reads these texts together to uncover the complexity of contemporary attitudes towards piracy. Each of the chapters is structured around a pivotal moment of choice in the lives of seamen and pirates: choosing a career at sea, turning to piracy, becoming a renegade, and the final choice of how they represented themselves at execution. The focus on these moments of transition reveals how piracy and the sea were perceived by seamen, some of the aspirations they held, and how they were able to act on their choices. These decisions all placed seamen in conflict with authority –parental, legal, religious and state –and each evoked a wealth of textual responses from a range of perspectives which the study contrasts to illuminate wider social responses to piracy. Analysing this material together, the study unearths evidence of robust social networks which supported and sustained pirates. The thesis argues that piracy was viewed as a means of achieving wealth and status outside orthodox social hierarchies and, as such, was variously perceived as both opportunity and threat.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2021 17:36
    Last Modified: 08 Dec 2021 08:51


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