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Hans Turley’s study of pirate mythology contributed significantly to both the fields of eighteenth-century studies and queer theory. This essay considers Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash as a revealing example in the ongoing debate over cultural studies, an approach that has recently been under attack from more than one direction. Traditionalists continue to object to the impulse in cultural studies to study texts considered “non-literary,” to seek out expressions from writers in underrepresented groups, to abandon a valued tradition, and inappropriately to raise distracting social issues when discussing aesthetic objects. This essays suggests that returning to Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash can help demonstrate the continuing value of the admittedly loose set of practices that sail under the flag of cultural studies. Such works remind us that cultural studies has been productive rather than destructive, and that in spite of its many points of vulnerability, it continues to hold potential for future work in the field.