At UIS, Shapinsky teaches a popular history course titled, From Vikings to Hackers: A Pirate’s World History.
The book focuses on the perspectives of seafarers during Japan’s late medieval period, from 1300 – 1600. Though usually dismissed as “pirates,” these seafarers thought of themselves as sea lords.
Over the course of several centuries these sea lords became maritime magnates playing key roles in the operation of networks linking Japan to the rest of the world. Their sea tenure practices spread influence across the waves and continent shaping commercial and diplomatic relations with Korea and China.
During this time, Japan’s land-based authorities came to accept the “pirates” and even competed to sponsor sea-lord bands. Sea lords were then able to translate their medieval autonomy into positions of early influence in early modern Japan.
Shapinsky's other work includes "Polyvocal Portolans: Nautical Charts and Hybrid Maritime Cultures in Early Modern East Asia" published in Early Modern Japan (2006) and “With the Sea as their Domain: Pirates and Maritime Lordship in Medieval Japan” published in Seascapes, Littoral Cultures and Trans-Oceanic Exchanges (2007).
The book was published by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan and is available for purchase online.