One Thousand and One Nights:
Comparative Perspectives on Adaptation and Appropriation

University of St Andrews, 31 August – 1 September 2017

A conference funded by the Honeyman Foundation and the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews


Convener: Dr Orhan Elmaz (University of St Andrews)

Conference Venue: Boardroom, The Gateway/ School of Management (directions, map), University of St Andrews

This conference will bring old and new together by exploring parallels to and possible origins of tales of 1001 Nights, as well as the wealth of modern and contemporary material that it has originated and continues to inspire. Papers will address the theory and practice of adaptations and appropriations of 1001 Nights into any type of literary text and media. They will bridge any borders imposed by time and space as well as genre, and – most of all – language, for what we know as 1001 Nights was born as a transnational text 300 years ago. The interest in the magical and wonderful world of these captivating tales lead to a significant reception of these tales all over the world. In the exact same manner, some of the “original” tales of those early translations were in circulation prior to the 9th century in Baghdad. By collecting and incorporating earlier tales from other cultures and literary traditions while elaborating and appropriating them into the local culture in several cycles, the path was paved for the emergence of different editions of tales spanning up to 1,001 of the so-called Arabian Nights. At times, these tales are transformations of other, earlier tales, and at others, they have striking parallels with later tales which clearly demonstrates how entangled the literary world is – in past and present.

Speakers will present on various adaptations of 1001 Nights, drawing parallels and highlighting the origin of their adaptation(s) in (and possibly the origin of) the original text traditions of the corpus. Through this, it will be possible to underline the dynamic nature and autonomous life that tales of 1001 Nights acquired and how they originated works like Edgar Allan Poe’s short parody, Jorge Luis Borges’s essays, Naguib Mahfouz’s novel, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite, Henri Rabaud’s opera, Paolo Pasolini’s film, Hanan al-Shaykh and Tim Supple’s play, or Haruki Murakami’s short story which was translated and published in the New Yorker in 2014.

The keynote speakers will be Prof Ulrich Marzolph (University of Göttingen), Dr Claudia Ott (Beedenbostel), and Dr Richard van Leeuwen (University of Amsterdam).

Presented and submitted papers will be peer-reviewed and those accepted are planned to be published in an edited volume.