Extension History Proposal
When we were first given our extension history project tasks, I had absolutely no idea what areas I was going to research. I was going to research the Aztecs and the downfall of their empire. I was also considering researching the Amazons, but I was overcome by a whole new idea. The idea of pirates. I am a pirate fanatic, and I have seen many shows, series and movies that have portrayed pirates in different ways. During my research on pirates, I have viewed various articles on websites. One particular website which I used is titled ‘Pirates and Privateers – The History of Maritime Piracy’, by Cindy Vallar (http://www. indyvallar. com/pirates. html).
This website had many articles on pirates, pirate treasure, ancient pirates, modern pirates, the golden age of piracy, but most of all, the romanticism of piracy. After a few weeks of web searching, I gave up on the internet and occupied myself with the mission of borrowing books from the local library. I had also visited the NSW State Library, but I did not get much out of it since I could not borrow the books. One particular book which had caught my interest was ‘Under the Black Flag’ by David Cordingly, a pirate historian.
David Cordingly explores the romanticism of pirates, focusing on the Golden Age of piracy. He “demonstrates how myths are formed- and how very much we live by them” – Caleb Carr. Cordingly talks about various writings such as ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Captain Johnson’s ‘General History of Pirates’ and discusses them in sophisticated depth. He makes comparisons between the fiction and factual texts to show how the fairytales have all derived from reality. Reading about Captain Johnson’s ‘General History of Pirates’ had gotten me to actually go look up the book.
I had conveniently found one copy with an introduction by David Cordingly. Johnson’s book was written during the “Golden Age of Piracy” in 1724. This book was famous for it’s in depth descriptions of pirates such as Edward Teach, more commonly known by the name Blackbeard. Johnson demonstrates knowledge of the sea, and it is suggested by some historians that he may have been a sea captain, others think that he may have been a pirate himself, or perhaps he was simply a skilled writer? The author’s identity still remains a mystery.
Enquiry Questions My main focus question at the moment is, “What are the different approaches that have been taken in the reconstruction of Pirate history? How have pirates been depicted in the different media and how have these depictions changed over time? ” I have chosen this as my main question because it is pretty broad. My thoughts are to perhaps narrow it down to a more specific question when I get deeper into my research. When I say media I would like to associate terms such as books, films, pictures etc. Also, there are many pirate-related materials available; therefore I have a wider range of sources which I could study.
Sub Questions. 1) How long has piracy existed? Does it still exist? If so, in what forms does it exist? By talking about when piracy came to being, and piracy in its forms today, it may be easier to understand what really is the definition of piracy. Through my research I have realized that back in ancient times, piracy had a different meaning to what it is today. 2) How have pirates been romanticized in various texts and/or films, and what were they like in reality? Pirates weren’t the heroes that are depicted in modern day films such as Pirates of the Caribbean or the Japanese anime One Piece.
In fact, they were almost completely the opposite. They were far from heroes. Exploring the romanticism of pirates will reveal to us the aspects of piracy by which these fairytales were influenced. 3) What are the controversies concerning Captain Charles Johnson, Daniel Defoe and the book “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates”? How has this affected the reliability of the book? The book mentioned in the question is one that many historians, playwrights, and directors use as a source to get their information from when it comes to pirates.
The question of who the author of the book really was has raised questions about the reliability of the information given by it. 4) How have fictional characters, such as Captain Hook, been influenced by the reputation of pirates such as Blackbeard? When watching movies such as Peter Pan, and anime such as One Piece, being a pirate fanatic, it’s not hard to pick up similarities between the fictional characters and the famous real pirates. 5) How has the discovery of the ship Whydah affected piratical history? This discovery “opened a whole new chapter” in pirate history. These are my sub-questions.
I have decided upon these questions because by researching and answering them, it will perhaps give me a better understanding of the nature of piracy. I believe that the more I research I do, the better understanding I will have of pirates. Research Intentions During my research, I intend to focus mainly on the “Golden Age of Piracy”, but I will explore other areas of piracy as well. I have made a list of pirate movies to watch ranging from olden-day movies such as “Blackbeard the Pirate”, to modern-day films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I will also be reading more books and searching for more articles.
I have also decided to contact Cindy Vallar. I had contacted Professor Marcus Rediker, a maritime expert, but all I could get out of him was the suggestion to read his book “Villains of All Nations”. This book was not available at my local library so I will have to search elsewhere for it. This has become a problem for me. Libraries don’t have so much in-depth books about pirates, so I am limited when it comes to getting information via books. I must broaden my research. I shall do this by going to other libraries, perhaps the University of New South Wales library since my older sister attends there.