Hoist the Jolly Roger! Texas State hosts series of piracy lectures

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 10, 2011

Texas State University-San Marcos will host two lectures on pirates and piracy, Oct. 25 and Nov. 9, shedding light on amazing stories of archaeological and underwater exploration by historians and scientists who find and explore the shipwrecks of history.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

“Piracy through the Ages” will be the topic of a public presentation 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, in the Wittliff Gallery on the 7th Floor of the Alkek Library. The lecture is presented by Bryan Glass, visiting scholar in the Texas State Department of History, and is part of the Common Experience.

Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann will speak on “Real Pirates of the Caribbean: Shipwrecks in Panama and the Dominican Republic” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, in room 101 of the Taylor-Murphy Building. The lectures is hosted by the Department of History. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Our culture includes many images from the Jolly Roger to Blackbeard and even Johnny Depp, that romanticize pirates and piracy,” said Glass, “but, in recent years, we’ve been confronted with more sinister images and news about modern-day pirates off the coast of Somalia.”

Glass is teaching a class entitled “Pirates of the Mediterranean” at Texas State this semester. His talk will investigate global piracy from the 16th Century to the present day, separating the romantic notions from the harsh reality of life as an outlaw on the open seas as he explores the history of piracy though the men and women who both practices and fought it, the states that supported and attacked it, and the authors who chronicled it. Glass is the founding member and general editor of the British Scholar Society, an international non-profit educational organization dedicated to investigating Britain’s interactions with the world from the 17th century to the present. He currently serves as the editor of the Britain and the World book series with Palgrave Macmillan.

Hanselmann led the first-ever archaeological survey of the mouth of the Río Chagres in Panama in 2008 as the initial phase of the ongoing Río Chagres Maritime Cultural Landscape Study, which continued in 2010 with the excavation of cannons that could possibly be from the wrecks of Captain Henry Morgan’s ships lost in 1671. He recently returned from further underwater research in Panama this summer. Some of his research with Indiana University has been featured in the National Geographic Expedition Week 2008 program “Shipwreck! Captain Kidd,” a documentary of a shipwreck that the archaeological and historical records indicate to be Captain Kidd’s Quedagh Merchant, sunk off the coast of the Dominican Republic in 1699.

Join Hanselmann for tails of adventure on the high seas exploring the shipwrecks of real pirates: Captain Henry Morgan, the scourge of the Spanish Main for years, pillaged the Spanish colonies and was one of the few pirates able to retire and enjoy his spoils, and Captain William Kidd, a tragic figure in an international scandal, which resulted in his unjust infamy as one of the most cutthroat pirates of all times. Throughout their respective exploits, both men lost ships to the sea, said Hanselmann, for which archaeologists are searching and investigating today. By studying the material remains of our past, maritime archaeology can provide further insight into the activities of real pirates through sunken cities, ships, and other archaeological sites and historical documents.

Hanselmann, research faculty and the chief underwater archaeologist with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State, leads expeditions in search of shipwrecks throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Having worked on underwater sites from a wide variety of time periods, his research ranges from submerged paleo-Indian and prehistoric deposits in springs and caverns to historic shipwrecks around the world.

In conjunction with these lectures, the Alkek Library is featuring a small exhibit on display on the 2nd Floor of the library from Oct. 1-Nov. 30 and has an online resource guide on the web at http://libguides.txstate.edu/pirates.

For more information, contact Pat Hawthorne at (512) 245-3895 or via email ph30@txstate.edu.