Story+ Project

Pirating Texts: From Robinson Crusoe to Cast Away, Tracking the Myth of Crusoe From Slave Trade Propaganda to Children’s Animation



Over 300 years ago, Daniel Defoe immortalized the survival story of Alexander Selkirk with the publication of The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe—transforming the real story of Selkirk into the fiction of Crusoe, Más a Tierra (Selkirk’s island) into Robinson Crusoe Island, and any story about being marooned in an inhospitable place into a Robinsonade. While you might not be familiar with the intimate details of Crusoe, you have read or seen its many adaptations like The Martian or Cast Away. Building upon last summer’s Data+ project, Pirating Texts, this Story+ team will tell the story of the publication of Crusoe, which has amassed over 13,000 different editions. Utilizing the database and visualizations, the team will utilize research skills and data analysis to untangle the web of editions that have spread throughout the world. The end result being a part physical and virtual exhibition at the UNC-CH Wilson Library and Duke University Rubenstein Library.

Skills desired:
Students should also be familiar with how to navigate online databases like the HathiTrust and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online and have an interest in rare materials.
Project Sponsor(s): 

Charlotte Sussman, Professor, Department of English, Duke University

Graduate Mentor(s): 

Grant Glass, PhD Candidate


Bailey Bogle, Clifford Haley, Eli Kline


The team created two physical exhibits, one at Duke and another at UNC-Chapel Hill, and a website,, to detail their work and research findings.

Pirating Texts Visualization


  • Visual Media
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Mapping