This course will examine the vital presence of pirates in Atlantic history and in English fiction. We will look at Elizabethan forms of state-sponsored piracy, “adventuring,” and exploration (Sir Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh), and will then follow pirates into the eighteenth and nineteenth century as they developed their own codes of conduct. We will learn to see pirates as contributors to political theory and practice, trade and commerce, as well as to natural history and sea-borne discovery. We will read about the women pirates who infiltrated and functioned within this very male world. In general, we will be tracking the reasons why pirates became legends, and asking why they continue to fascinate readers and movie-goers.