A Thousand and One Nights: Storytelling in Arabic and World Literature

ARABIC 3705: A Thousand and One Nights: Storytelling in Arabic and World Literature

Readings from The Arabian Nights; the history of the text, translations and literary and cinematic adaptations.

The 1001 Nights – popularly known as the Arabian Nights – is a corpus of Arabic stories that rose from relative obscurity to global fame. The origins of the Nights lie in the Islamic Near East, but the versions we know today are a direct result of the translations of anonymous Arabic manuscripts in late-17th century Paris. The vogue for “oriental tales” spread throughout Europe and back to the Islamic world, where subsequently there appeared several greatly expanded Arabic editions of the collection. The Nights is a remarkable example of a shared, global literary heritage that at the same time has played a major part, for better or worse, in shaping Western perceptions of the Arabo-Islamic world. In this course, students will read the original stories, which remain delightful to this day, and come to understand the process by which the corpus of Nights was preserved, expanded, translated, dissemination and even forged. Then we will consider the remarkable diffusion and reception of the tales and their characters, especially in cinema and modern literature. This course is taught in English.

Prereq: None
GE Foundation: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts
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