Pirates and the American South

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Kristopher Mecholsky (Louisiana State University)
contact email: 

Given their contribution to the historical development of the coastal south and the Americas in general, pirates are relatively absent in the present southern literary canon and its criticisms. As the Companion to Southern Literature mentions with some surprise, “southern writers…seem not to have cared much about pirates…[particularly] given the fact that some of the most notorious pirates worked the coastal regions of the Southeast.” And yet, nineteenth-century fiction about the American South was flooded with pirates.

This CFP seeks essays for a planned edited collection that will augment papers delivered at a panel on pirates in southern fiction at the 2018 Society for the Study of Southern Literature. Proposed essays should address gaps in criticism about piracy in southern fiction (both broadly understood) from all periods. Proposals about historical approaches to piracy and the American South are also encouraged. From the cultural echoes of Sir Walter Scott’s The Pirate to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug” and Joseph Holt Ingraham’s Lafitte: The Pirate of the Gulf and more—and encompassing the cultural role of pirate fiction in triangulating gender, colonial, racial, economic, and nationalistic attitudes with respect to Mexico, the Caribbean, and the entire coastal American South—the proposed collection will form the first substantial critical exploration of pirates in southern literature. Possible topics include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:

  • Jean Lafitte in literature and film
  • Mark Twain and piracy
  • the relationship between Bahamanians and Floridians (esp. the Conchs), particularly in fiction
  • the relationship between the Scottish & British literary world and the American South
  • authors from outside the traditional South who wrote about pirates in it
  • pirates in twentieth-century fiction and film about the South
  • the role of pirate myth in the coastal Carolinas, Georgia, and the Gulf coast states
  • the economics of piracy in the development of colonial America
  • how pirate fiction represents, navigates, and negotiates the intersectional complexities of slavery
  • the role of piracy in the relationship between the Caribbean and the American South
  • 19th-c. dime novels about pirates in and around the South
  • piracy during the Civil War (e.g., the Confederate privateer ships Jefferson DavisSavannah, and Petrel)
  • Rev. Joseph Holt Ingraham’s fiction and the South
  • buried treasure motifs in ficiton of the American South
  • piracy in stage dramas
  • gender and piracy
  • race and piracy
  • sexuality and piracy

Please send abstract proposals (up to 500 words) to Kristopher Mecholsky at kmecho1@lsu.edu by August 15, 2018. Formal proposals to publishers will then go out; accepted proposals will be expected to submit a finished essay (~6,000 to 8,000 words) by April 15, 2019. Feel free to send queries with any questions regarding proposals (including feedback on ideas) at any time.