This course introduces one of the most popular examples of world literature in the West, The One Thousand and One Nights (alf layla wa layla) or The Arabian Nights. The course focuses on the internal structure of The Arabian Nights, its relationship to world literature, its significance as both high literature and folklore, and its sphere of influence. A collection of Oriental frame tales, it captured the imagination of generations of Western readers and prominent writers. The Arabian Nights presents in classical Arabic and in the vernacular: fairy tales, romances, fables, legends, parables, anecdotes, erotica, debates, and adventures in which the main narrative is embedded within a preliminary narrative. Students will examine other texts of world literature to identify structural and thematic comparisons. For example, The Decameron written 1351-1353 by Giovanni Boccaccio contained 100 fabliaux, fairy tales, and folk tales from ancient lineage that in turn provided Chaucer with the general framework of The Canterbury Tales, where the tales of the various pilgrims are embedded within the frame story of the journey. The Night’s narrative techniques have long appeared in the works of other Anglo-American and European writers. We will read selected works by Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, John Barthes and A.S. Byatt. We will also consider and discuss differences in translations of The Arabian Nights, such as those by Richard Burton, Edward Lane, John Payne, and Hussain Haddawi, in an attempt to assess the role of translation and its theories in comparative literature.
The Arabian Nights, Hussain Haddawy (trs.). Norton Critical Edition ISBN: 978-0-393-92808-2
Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron. Penguin ISBN: 13-978-0-140-44930-3
Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-042234-4.
S. Byatt, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye .ISBN: 13- 978-0679762225
Course documents (prepared by the instructor and available on the course Sakai site)
- Class attendance, presentations and active participation in discussion. 20%
- Weekly Sakai forum: students will post a thoughtful response (300-500 words) to posted questions concerning the readings. Engagement with other students’ posts is encouraged. In order to receive credit, responses must be posted before noon on the day before the material is to be discussed. 20%
- Mid-term paper of 5 to 8 pages (1000-1500 words). 20%
- Term paper topic proposal with annotated bibliography (must contain a minimum of seven citations). 10%
Term research paper of 10 to 15 pages (2000-3000 words). 30%