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Mountaineers Take to the Seas

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Most of us have watched or heard of Pirates of the Caribbean. But be aware! One ought not to say the name ‘Jack Sparrow’ in Professor Timothy Fritz’s Pirates and Rebels on the Atlantic class. Legend has it that the poor soul who does so will receive an automatic F.

Fritz's course focuses on the historic narrative of the Golden Age of Piracy, from roughly 1650 to 1730. The Golden Age saw the Caribbean filled with many famous pirates voyaging the seas in search of treasure. Historically, a pirate’s treasure was not limited to silver and gold, but also human slaves.

In addition to teaching the truth about pirates, Fritz, an assistant history professor, hopes students will develop the skill of reading between the lines: to better understand who they are, the legacies they’re creating and the world they have entered. He created the course to shift students’ paradigm on piracy outside of the Disney franchise and give them a historical narrative they could apply to their lives.

“The course highlights the relationship between power and the law," Fritz said. "Piracy allows people outside of accepted power structures to influence the course of history.  Pirates find weak spots in the wall of civilization and seek to exploit those spots.”

Fritz also gives students the opportunity to do independent research and apply it to the world of pop culture. During his interview to be an assistant professor at the Mount, he remembers thinking about how he could use pop culture as a tool to get students interested in the field of history. The course on pirates is one result of this effort.

Fritz not only specializes in the area of piracy. He has published peer-reviewed articles on the topics of race and religion in early America. In addition, he teaches history courses centered on social movements, the Slave Trade, Southern history, and the American experience through 1898. He attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for his undergraduate degree and earned his Ph.D in history at the University of Florida in 2014. Soon afterwards, he joined the Mount's history faculty. 

 Aside from teaching Mountaineers about sea rebels, Dr. Fritz, directs Mount 101, a two-week program for first-year students that gives them hands-on experience with college life at the Mount. According to Dr. Fritz, the program gives students a head start navigating the transition to college. The program offers students 3 to 4 credits as they acquire skills and build social networks.

“The program included a variety of workshops to help develop our transition from high school students into successful college students," said Asia Yates, C'23, a criminal justice major. "We were given opportunities to execute actual college assignments and learn techniques with our writing and time management as well.” She is thankful for the program and the professors who contributed to the successful start to her college career.

Various faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts assist in the program by offering students tips about how to succeed in the Mount’s curriculum. Jordan Loveridge, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication studies, hosts a writing seminar, in which students are exposed to the expectations of college writing. Mount 101 goes one step further by providing students with fundamental skills in time management and budgeting. The students also receive words of advice from current Mount students about campus life and the resources the campus offers to make the Mount feel like home.

Fritz is a professor who lives out the Mount’s mission with the hope of passing it on to his students. Mountaineers, all hands on deck to scourge the seven seas with Captain Fritz!