Piracy and the American South

deadline for submissions: 
May 3, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Kristopher Mecholsky (LSU)
contact email: 

Given their contribution to the historical development of the coastal south and the Americas in general, pirates are strikingly absent in the present southern literary and cultural 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, for instance, nineteenth-century fiction about the American South was flooded with pirates (see, for example, the Northern Illinois and Villanova's digitization of dime novels: https://dimenovels.lib.niu.edu/) and pirate lore remains a lasting economic force in southern tourism (in cities like New Orleans and Charleston and Savannah).

This CFP seeks essays for an edited collection on piracy and the South. Proposed essays should address gaps in criticism about piracy and the South from all periods. Proposals about historical, economic, musicological, and other sociological 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 the southern imaginary. 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 May 3, 2019. A formal proposal to publishers will then be developed; accepted proposals will be expected to submit a finished essay (~6,000 to 8,000 words) by April 2020. Feel free to send queries with any questions regarding proposals (including feedback on ideas) at any time.