This past spring semester, Saint Leo University offered a course on pirates in its Department of Language Studies and the Arts. The coursework delved into the concept of the pirate character in film, literature and other forms of media and culture.
The final assignment in the course was to create a “treasure map” outlining what the students did and learned throughout the semester. Below are three treasure maps – one from the professor, Dr. Kathryn Duncan, and two from students in the course. A description written by each is below each treasure map.
‘Captain’ Dr. Kathryn Duncan
I started with the Articles and Log and made it look torn because this assignment suffered the most from going online. I had the crews who still needed to present create logs, but there was no point in doing so after we went online because crews were no longer working together.
Up next came General History and I chose Blackbeard for practical drawing purposes but also because he was so referential for us the entire term. I don’t see how I could teach a pirate class without including Blackbeard. He’s foundational.
I chose Long John Silver for Treasure Island, though a chest of treasure would have made sense too. Like Blackbeard, Silver is foundational, so I went with him. He had the fierceness and performative nature of Blackbeard but seeds of pirate becoming less of a villain (so I tried to make him look less threatening).
I went with a hook for Peter Pan. If I were better at drawing, I might have gone with Peter because of our great discussions about how pirate-like he was. Still, Hook makes the most sense as he literally is the captain of the pirates and combines aspects of Silver with Blackbeard with elements of fantasy.
The red line represents the pandemic coming along and leaving a jarring rift in our semester. I purposely drew it over the presentations since going virtual affected those radically.
For Captain Blood, I opted for a heart since this is when romance gets introduced. I wanted green because it’s associated with the heart chakra, and I’d already used red to represent menace.
For the essay, a computer would have made more sense, but I didn’t trust my drawing skills. I referenced the assignment that asked for a creative response since I’d hoped to encourage creativity in our class.
The storyboard is pretty straight forward, and, of course, it represents a real change in course for us since we couldn’t do our film anymore. I put one stick figure in each panel to show that this could no longer be a group project: one stick figure all alone. Sigh.
A compass represents Pirates of the Caribbean as its pivotal to plot (especially later in the series) and seemed a good representation of how we had to chart a new course for our class.
Since we had to use the discussion boards to communicate, I represented that after CB and PoC.
And my treasure is the skull and crossbones. It was less X marks the spot straightforward as there were so many challenges to reaching the treasure.
I started with the Articles because it was the beginning of forming our crew, the "Peaceful Pirates." It was three of us at first, so there are three signature lines on the paper. It makes sense to start with the Articles because it came before everything else (besides the quizzes we took in the beginning to find out which groups we would be going in).
Next came General History, and for that, I drew Blackbeard because he is known as "the" pirate. We learned about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, too, but Blackbeard took the stage. I added his gun and cutlass too.
Next, I drew three people with an X through one of them. This represents that one of the members of Peaceful Pirates disappeared and abandoned us. So, it was just the two of us for a while. And we made it through!
Treasure Island came next, where I literally drew a treasure chest on an island because I thought it made sense. I would have drawn Silver, but honestly, I probably would have drawn him almost the same way that I drew Blackbeard since he's sort of close to him in a way (aside from the beard, maybe.)
Peter Pan was next, named Neverland on my map. Honestly, I wanted to draw Neverland, but I went with Peter's hat and Hook's hook because they were the main pirates in the story who battled. I added in that I went to the Tampa Bay History Center around the time of “Peter Ban” before spring break. That was an important quest, too, because honestly, I went the day before the news that there was a Coronavirus case in Tampa! It was a fun experience, but that worried me a bit since I was just around there.
Spring-Break Island represents our spring break. I drew a little island for it, with the Peaceful Pirate ship landing on the Island for a bit. There is another girl on the island who we picked up on the ship and added onto our crew, which represents Madison joining me and Christian over break. Also, there is a little coronavirus cloud, storming on the island, delaying us from sailing back to see and extending our time on Spring-Break Island. We couldn't sail on the sea for a while, so we transitioned to Online Sailing with Captain Duncan. For Online Sailing, I drew a laptop, because that's what I use.
Next was the pop culture presentations in which I drew a skull from the anime One Piece since it was included in my presentation, and my presentation was on real pirates vs. animated pirates. Captain Blood was drawn as a red skull for blood with little hearts on the bones because it was the first romanticized pirates we learned about in the journey of this class.
Next, I drew a gun and a cutlass vs. a hook, both of them having alcoholic beverages near them, to represent my short essay. It was about Silver and Hook arguing who the best pirate was in a bar, so it fit. Also, the title was "Hook Gets Barbequed" because Hook pretty much gets roasted by Silver whose nickname is BBQ.
The storyboard is next, where I drew two girls on a ship because it was about two pirate sisters. Next, for Pirates of the Caribbean, I drew another skull. But that is the symbol of this movie. it's like a Jack Sparrow skull. Finally, for the Treasure, I just put an X marks the spot – the spot where we end this course. My treasure was learning about such a fun topic and passing the class with a good grade at the same time. It was a fun, challenging (*Coronavirus and online transition*) adventure.
The treasure I seek for this class was to have a better understanding of pirates and how they change to fit the culture and society of the time. For my treasure map, what helped me reach my treasure is a location where the pirate ship stops before moving through the journey.
A big part of reaching my treasure was the literary works we covered in class. The journey begins at General History Caves, where I learned about historical pirates and how gender, societal norms, and identity affect said, pirates. Next, I move on to Treasure Island and Pan's Pond based on the books Treasure Island and Peter Pan. These children's books change the view of pirates from being bad guys who must be caught to bad guys you might want to go on an adventure with. They also displayed the change of masculinity from hyper-masculinity to a more gentlemen-type of masculinity.
Next on the journey to treasure is R.I.P. Hills, based on the really important passage assignments we had in class. Finding these passages helped me take a closer look at the readings and find more meaning and understanding in them. After the hills, the pirate ship stops at Fungeon Village, where pirates stop and take a rest. Fungeon Village represents the class discussions we had. These class discussions helped me understand how pirates changed with the culture and society changes and why pirates stay relevant. As a class, we shared, discussed, asked, and answered questions to understand the pirate works.
After that, we stop at presentation island, which represents all the presentations we covered, including the professor’s, individual, and pirate crew presentations. These presentations, like the class discussions, helped build my knowledge and understanding of the works we were covering. After Presentation Island, the pirate ship gets lost in shark-infested water, symbolizing the transition from on-ground to online classes, but we make it through and land at Move mountains. The mountains are based on the movies Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean, which we watched individually. The movies provide a visual analysis of how pirates are portrayed now and how they are relevant to today's culture and society.
Lastly, the pirate ship stops at D.P. Village based on the online discussion post. These discussion posts, like the discussions in class, helped me understand the movies, read everyone's thoughts on what the films portrayed, and stay connected with everyone. All these stops throughout my journey led me to my treasure. I now have more knowledge of pirate's and understand their culture work and how they continue to be relevant.