Pirates of the Caribbean: Historical Film as a Learning Tool

My PhD research encompasses Irish, British and Caribbean history. When I tell people about my research topic, one of the first questions usually involves pirates – thanks largely to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Sadly I have no pirates in my thesis…

In contrast, Dr Rebecca Simon has been researching piracy for years.  Her recently-completed PhD thesis is entitled “The Crimes of Piracy and its Punishment: The Performance of Maritime Supremacy in the British Atlantic World, 1670 – 1830.” For anyone interested in crime in the early modern Atlantic world, with piracy and the Caribbean thrown in, it’s worth following her on twitter, or via her blog here. Dr Simon writes about historical film and the media, among other things. This is a link to a great blogpost she wrote back in 2015 about the Pirates of the Caribbean (the film).  She argues for the value of historical film as a learning tool – moving past the glitz and swashbuckling men in the Pirates films, there are numerous themes which can be explored in the context of Atlantic history. I detest historical inaccuracy in film as much as the next historian, but if the Pirates films manage to spark some interest in the cruel, complex Atlantic world of the 17th-18th centuries, then that is surely a positive.

 

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