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NEAR E 331 A: Thousand and One Nights

Meeting Time: 
TTh 4:30pm - 6:20pm
DEN 113
Joint Sections: 
NEAR E 531 A
Terri Deyoung
Terri L. DeYoung

Syllabus Description:

NE 331/531 A

The 1001 Nights

in Arabic Literature

Spring Quarter 2019



Instructor: Terri DeYoung                                                                                      Class Location: 113 Denny

Office: 246 Denny Hall                                                                                           Class Time: TTh 4:30-6:20

Telephone: (206) 543-6184                                                                                Schedule Line Number: 17602

or (206)543-6033 (dept. office—leave message)                                                                      (331), 21391 (531)



Office Hours: TTh 2:30-3:30


Description of Course: The 1001 Nights tales (also known as The Arabian Nights or Alf Laylah wa-Laylah) have often been called a classic work of world literature. This course will briefly review the history of Arabic prose as a vehicle for literary expression and how this affected the composition of the 1001 Nights. Then it will turn to the development and reception of the Alf Laylah stories in the Arabic-speaking world in the light of recent discoveries about their history. Finally we will analyze in detail the structure of some of its major story cycles, including the frame-story, the Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad, Sindbad the Sailor, and Ala’ al-Din and the Magic Lamp.


Required Text: The Arabian Nights, trans. by Husain Haddawy, ed. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Norton Critical Edition, 2010).


Course Requirements: The grade for this course will be determined through evaluation of the student’s written projects for the course.


Writing Assignments: A short position paper (at least 2 pp. long) will be due tentatively on Thursday 11 April 2019). The topic of the paper will be either: 1) "What was my first introduction to the 1001 Nights and how has it influenced me"? or 2) "Why I am taking this course and what I hope to learn in it."

This paper will count for 5% of the final course grade.


                A second short position paper (at least 2 pp. long) will be due tentatively on Monday 29 April 2018). The topic of the paper will be: "Which video is a better introduction to the study of the 1001 Nights: Legends of the Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights: A Historical Perspective, and why"?

This paper will count for 5% of the final course grade.


                A third short position paper (at least 3 pp. long) will be due tentatively on Monday 20 May 2019). The topic of the paper will be: “Should the 1001 Nights Be Considered a Classic of World Literature or a Classic of Arabic Literature?”

This paper will count for 10% of the final course grade.


                A set of three questions (see handout on Canvas for examples) will be due at the beginning of discussion about each of the following tales required for class reading (“The Prologue,” “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad,” “Sindbad the Sailor,” and “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” ). The questions will count for 30% of the total grade.

Exams: There will be one exam, a take-home final exam (tentatively due Friday June 14 2019, 11:59 PM). Students will have the option to substitute (with the instructor’s permission, obtained at least two weeks in advance of the end of classes) a final paper (about 5-8 pages in length) for the take-home final exam. This paper will be due on the same day as the final exam. Those taking this course under the “530” number will be required to turn in a paper (of at least 10 pp.) instead of the take-home exam.

The Take-Home Final Exam or Paper will count for 40% of the final grade.

                The remaining 10% of the grade will be based on in-class participation. This means that you will be expected to have read the “Primary Readings” before coming to class, and do whatever other reading is necessary so that you can participate actively in the class discussions. Regular attendance records (according to University Regulations) may not be included in this portion of the grade, so it is up to the student to participate in the class discussion, in order to receive full credit for “class participation.”


For 531 Students:

Those taking this course under the “NE 531” number will be required to turn in a paper (of at least 10 pp.) instead of the take-home exam

                In addition, those enrolled in 531 will be required to prepare 1 presentation (about 15 minutes) to be given in class outlining the background of two of the European translators of the 1001 Nights. Alternatively, graduate students may arrange an alternate written assignment instead of the presentations with the instructor. Students enrolled in the 531 section of the course should consult the instructor about these presentations as soon as possible. The two presentations will count for 10% of the final grade.



            Failure to turn in any assignments or take any tests on time will result in an automatic .3 deduction in the student’s grade for that assignment or test. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all assignments are submitted on time and in readable format to the instructor.

            The general policies about plagiarism in force at the University of Washington will be observed in this course.




For Students with Special Needs: If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor as soon as possible so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.


Classroom Courtesy: Since the consumption of food often interferes with class participation and is distracting to others, students are requested to avoid this in the classroom unless they are prepared to share what they have brought with everyone. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

                As a courtesy to students observing the fast of Ramadan, eating and drinking in class will not be permitted during that month (in 2019, from 6 May to 4 June). Your cooperation will be appreciated


Communications Devices: Please do not use cell phones (or other communications devices) for making calls in the classroom. If you must take a call, please go outside the classroom. Laptop computers and tablets may be used in class for taking notes or accessing class material.




Background Reading (General):


                There are useful introductions to and articles about Alf Laylah in the Norton Critical Edition of The Arabian Nights that is edited by Daniel Heller-Roazen (the text that is required for this class). You should plan on reading them sometime during this quarter. General historical coverage of the period in which 1001 Nights was produced, written in an accessible style, can be found in Hugh’s Kennedy’s When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World (on reserve in Odegaard, Call Number: DS38.6 K46 2005). A recently published work that includes detailed descriptions of major stories and characters in the 1001 Nights is The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, vols. 1 and 2, ed. Ulrich Marzolph and Richard van Leeuwen (on reserve in Odegaard, Call Number: PJ7737 A73 2004). An older work that contains much of the same material covered (in more detail) in The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia is Mia Gerhardt’s The Art of Storytelling. Call Number: PJ7737 G4 (on reserve in Odegaard). An extremely useful resource for Arabic literature in general (including a long article on Alf Laylah) is The Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. Julie Meisami and Paul Starkey (Call Number: PJ7510 E53 1998 in Suzzallo and Odegaard Reference).

Catalog Description: 
Examines the major story cycles of the Thousand-and-One-Nights collection in their social and historical contexts.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:21pm