As some of you know, I have a string of degrees, some even in related subjects, to follow my name when I bother to use them. (I rarely bother, though when I’m feeling snooty, I sometimes insist on being called “Doctor.”) The last one was in history, and I’ve taught it at the college level. For various personal reasons, I’m taking a different tack for the near future. I’ve decided to try teaching history that will be fun as well as educational, and teaching it to adults who want to learn about it, to at least some level. So I’m planning to teach a non-credit course on pirates for the local adult education program.
Why pirates? Well, they’re entertaining. But they’re also serious history, providing an entry point into discussing everything from European power politics to 18th century economics. Besides, I’ve already tried doing this once. Back a few years ago, when I was teaching a course on European History, 1500 – 1815, to summer college students, I threw in a running course thread on piracy. We used Capt. Charles Johnson’s 1724 book, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates, the source book for most of what people believe about pirates. (Anyone who has read Treasure Island should know that Robert Louis Stevenson lifted quite a few ideas from Johnson’s book, including the name of the pirate Israel Hands.) It actually worked quite well, serving as a counterpoint to the drier material in the standard textbook we were using for most of the course.
Anyhow, to prepare for the course, I’ve started up a new blog, appropriately called Sillyhistory. And the first (well, second) post is on a visit E.J. and I took to the museum devoted to the only recovered pirate ship and its treasure, the Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod. Go over to the new blog and take a look!
What does this mean for historical content on Sillyverse? Well, if it’s related to courses I’m preparing or teaching, it will be on Sillyhistory. If it’s related to my fiction, it will continue to be here. If it’s related to neither . . . well, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.