Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Pirates, Sinners, and Castaways: Literature from the Other Atlantic

ENGL 248.301

This course looks at 18th and 19th century literature by and about people who lived and traveled the Atlantic, existing on the margins of—and often in conflict with—the period’s emerging nation-states. Pirates, sinners, and castaways, as well as indentured servants, enslaved Africans, and utopians of all sorts left literary and historical traces of themselves that flesh out our understanding of this volatile period. In particular, they imagine alternative ways of living that survive, often unacknowledged, to this day. We will read little known texts such as criminal confession narratives written by people condemned to execution, second hand tales of cross-dressing women pirates, and accounts of shipwrecked sailors involved in the colonization of the Americas. We will also read more well known texts that thematize this “other Atlantic,” such as Herman Melville’s Typee, Edgar Allen Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Susana Rowson’s Slaves in Algiers, and Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative.

fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major