A Thousand and One Narrators: Masterpieces of Story Literature from the Middle East and India
In this course, we study classic works of story literature from the Middle East and India, with focus on A Thousand and One Nights (aka Arabian Nights); The Mahabharata; and the Indo-Persian romance, Dastan-e Amir Hamza. These masterpieces have continued to entertain and inspire for centuries. In this course we explore how the texts work, both as narrative innovations and explorations of eternal human themes. We will consider, for example, the roles of frame stories in Arabian Nights, multiple narrators in The Mahabharata, and supernatural adventure in Dastan-e Amir Hamza. Finally, we close the course by reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, perhaps a modern parable on storytelling’s power. Course goals include: to appreciate and analyze the texts as classics of story literature; uncover what they have to say about human society; and discover their continuing influence on art and culture. Some film versions will be shown, and class sessions will focus on group discussion and analysis.
The main texts for this course are:
The Arabian Nights, translated by Husain Haddawy
The Mahabharata, translated by John D. Smith
The Adventures of Amir Hamza, translated by Musharraf Ali Farooqi
Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Assignments will include short essays and a final paper; a group presentation; and participation in class discussion.