Hans Turley

The Long Eighteenth mourns the loss of the warm and wonderful Hans Turley, who died this week after a recurrence of liver cancer.  Hans taught at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He will be deeply missed.

Hans will be remembered for his contributions to eighteenth-century studies and queer theory, for his brilliance, wit, and kindness.



“Turley presents a thoroughly-researched literay and cultural history of the transgressive pirate figure in the early eighteenth-century.”
Journal of Folklore Research

Despite, or perhaps because of, our lack of actual knowledge about pirates, an immense architecture of cultural mythology has arisen around them. Three hundred years of novels, plays, painting, and movies have etched into the popular imagination contradictory images of the pirate as both arch-criminal and anti-hero par excellence. How did the pirate-a real threat to mercantilism and trade in early-modern Britain-become the hypermasculine anti-hero familiar to us through a variety of pop culture outlets? How did the pirate’s world, marked as it was by sexual and economic transgression, come to capture our collective imagination?

In Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, Hans Turley delves deep into the archives to examine the homoerotic and other culturally transgressive aspects of the pirate’s world and our prurient fascination with it. Turley fastens his eye on historical documents, trial records, and the confessions of pirates, as well as literary works such as Robinson Crusoe, to track the birth and development of the pirate image and to show its implications for changing notions of self, masculinity, and sexuality in the modern era.

Turley’s wide-ranging analysis provides a new kind of history of both piracy and desire, articulating the meaning of the pirate’s contradictory image to literary, cultural, and historical studies.

5 responses to “Hans Turley

  1. Thanks for posting this, Laura. I’ve always admired Hans’s good sense and good humor, so to say that Hans will be sorely missed, well, seems like an understatement. I do know for certain that his scholarship, teaching, and editorial work pushed all of us to greater insights, and that I will always be grateful for the chance to have worked with him.

  2. Dave Mazella

    Yes, Laura, thanks for passing this along. Hans was a fine scholar and a sensitive editor, someone who always struck me as consistently kind and levelheaded, two qualities not always found among academics. He was one of the people I looked forward to seeing and talking to at ASECS. I will miss him, and I am certain his friends, family, colleagues, and students will feel the loss, as well.


  3. I had Hans Turley as a professor for two classes at the University of Connecticut; Advanced Studies in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Literature, and Restoration and 18th Century English Literature. He was a kind and thoughtful professor that really cared about the subject matter. Personally, he erased the societal borderlines that I had once perceived with his earnest spirit, and I am a better person for it. He will be missed.

  4. While doing research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, a few years ago, Hans became good friends with my wife, Margaret, an archivistat Mills Memorial Library. Ironically I came across Han’s e-mail address last week in my wife’s papers and tried to contact him to inform him that Margaret had passed away from heart failure Feb. 10, 2008. How sad to lose two such warm-hearted and kind people in the space of little over a year.
    “The angels rejoiced last night.”
    May all their friends and loved ones stay safe and healthy.

  5. Dave Mazella

    Doug, I’m sorry to hear about your loss, but thanks for letting us know about this connection, which Hans had made in an all too brief life. Best, DM