Pirating Texts

Project Summary

A team of students led by UNC-CH graduate student Grant Glass and Duke English professor Charlotte Sussman will track the thousands of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe editions – including the plethora of movies and “Robinsoniades,” most of which are deviations from Defoe’s original work. By examining the differences in these stories –through word-vector models and categorization algorithms, we can trace how the deviations often reflect the place and time of their production and consumption, evoking a range of questions that further our understanding of how the expanse and collapse of the British Empire is wrapped up in notions of capitalism, race, empire, gender, and climate concerns. Along the way, we will examine questions of intellectual property, piracy, and authorship as they relate to both the 18th century and today.

Themes and Categories
Paul Bendich

Disciplines Involved: English, Literature, History, Geography, Visual & Media Studies

Project Lead: Charlotte Sussman

Project Manager: Grant Glass

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