FT 09-A Adventures on the High Seas
From Odysseus’ tumultuous voyage home in Homer’s Odyssey to Johnny Depp’s outlaw bravado as Captain Jack Sparrow in the recent Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean, Western culture has been fascinated by tales of adventure on the high seas. Why are we drawn to these stories? What role does the sea—seemingly beyond law or logic—play in our self-definitions? We will explore these questions by examining three overlapping categories of sea-bound adventurers: pirates, navy captains, and nautical explorers. All three operate on the boundaries between law and lawlessness, the knowable and the unknown. Pirates exist outside of normative legal systems, while navy captains try to extend control over unruly and contested waters. Sea explorers, meanwhile, venture beyond the edges of the map.
Readings for this course include Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Rafeal Sabatini’s Captain Blood, Alfred Lansing’s Endurance, and films such as 2003’s Master and Commander. We will also consider relevant current events, such as the issue of the Somalian pirates.