May 10, 2007, 4-8pm, Countries, Cultures, Communication: Digital Innovation at UCLA
Teaching The Arabian Nights: Arabic Storytelling and American Orientalism

UCLA College of Letters and Science, Humanities Division and the Center for Near Eastern Studies, International Institute

Arabian Nights montagePrimary contact

Susan Slyomovics
Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
(310) 206-3702

Additional project researchers

Jonathan Friedlander: Assistant Director, Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA

Rahul Bhushan, Web and Print Design and Production, Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA

Project description

Since its appearance in Europe in 1704, The Arabian Nights is the most famous work of Arabic literature in the West. Beginning spring quarter 2007, my course examines the cycle of tales known also as A Thousand and One Nights, its history of translation and circulation, tale texts and variations, the art of Arab storytelling, and Orientalism, or American appropriations of the tales in music, film, and literature.

A unique aspect of the course website is the juxtaposition of American Orientalist popular culture (collection of Jonathan Friedlander donated to the Young Research Library) with traditional contemporary Arabic storytelling performances from the Middle East (Susan Slyomovics’s fieldwork). Our project aims to author a media rich website that serves as a comprehensive online source for primary and compiled materials on The Arabian Nights and addresses a wide variety of intellectual approaches: American studies, folklore, visual arts, anthropology, and Middle East areal studies.

Project sponsored by UCLA’s Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Office of Instructional Development, Department of Comparative Literature, Young Research Library Department of Special Collections. Special thanks to Larry Loeher, Genie Guerard, Cristina Favretto, and David Hirsch.

Project video