Comparative Literature | Arabic-Western Lit. Relations: Voyages through The Thousand and One Nights
C370 | 25714 | Prof. Losensky


MW 11:15-12:30
*course carries A&H and CS credit*

Sindbad, Sheherazade, Ali Baba, and Aladdin—the stories of these
characters have been retold so often that they have become part of our
global literary imagination. In this course, we will examine how The
Thousand and One Nights, or Arabian Nights, took shape in medieval
Islamic culture and, like Sindbad, voyaged around the world. To begin
our journey, we will study the origins and structure of the work, its
narrative techniques, typical character types, and the social values
and aspirations they embody. We will then map the travels of the
Nights around the world through the history of its translations into
western languages, comparing some of its many English versions.
Finally, we will track the stories of the Nights into the mediums of
visual art and film and discuss a few of its many rewritings in modern
literature by authors such as E. A. Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, John
Barth, and Naguib Mahfuz. In the course of our voyage, we will make
land in the realms of narratology, Orientalism, and gender and
translation studies. Students are expected to attend film screenings
on February 3, February 24, March 24, and April 14. Grades will be
based on class participation, four short response papers, and two
five-page papers.