last update 4/30/12
Prof. Daniel M. Varisco
Office: 200F Davison
Purpose of Course
The famous collection of stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights has been the inspiration for generations of writers and filmmakers, including Disney’s successful cartoon version of Aladdin. This course will survey the recorded history of Abbasid Baghdad, development of the tales in Arabic, the cultural representation produced in their translation into English, and the wide variety of media in which the stories have evolved to the present. We will learn about the culture in medieval Baghdad that produced the stories, the politicized academic nature of Orientalist analysis and the modern popular appreciation of the tales in print and film.
• Heller-Roazen, Daniel, editor (2010) The Arabian Nights: A Norton Critical Edition. NY: W. H. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-92808-2 [It is necessary that you purchase this edition.]
• Irwin, Robert (2005) The Arabian Nights: A Companion. London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1-86064-983-1
• Kennedy, Hugh ((2004) When Baghdad Ruled the World. Cambridge, MA: Perseus. ISBN 978-0-306-81480-8
• Sources on Blackboard and internet as assigned by professor
3/19 Group Project Meetings (on your own)
3. EXAMS: There will be 2 exams. The midterm will be an exclusive take-home essay exam, graded acording to the following criteria:
a. Demonstration that the information is understood (worth 2 points)
b. Use of relevant and appropriate information and examples from the course (3 points)
c. Critical analysis of key concepts (2 points)
d. Understanding of anthropological perspective (2 points)
e. Synthesis and reformulation in your own words (2 points)
f. Clarity, completeness and coherence of response (3 points)
The midterm is due by March 21 at class time.
The final exam will have two essay questions (worth 6 points each) and 12 short answers each: each exam essay will be graded according to the following criteria:
a. Demonstration that the information is understood
b. Use of relevant and appropriate information and examples from the course (worth 2 points)
c. Critical analysis of key concepts
d. Understanding of anthropological perspective
e. Synthesis and reformulation in your own words
f. Clarity, completeness and coherence of response (worth 2 points)
• NOTE: Exams cannot be made up without advance notice for a legitimate reason.
4. CLASS ASSIGNMENT ESSAY (CAE)
Each student is required to write three original short essays related to assigned readings and film viewings. The student must hand in the essay on the day due. These assignments should be typed, but I will accept hand-written copies if approved of in advance. Each assignment must be at least 750 words (ca. 3 pages) in length and preferably no more than 5 pages (1250 words). The purpose of the assignment is to show how you interact with the material you are reading or seeing. You must relate your ideas and opinions specifically to the assigned reading or topic. You may also use the assignment to raise issues and ask me questions. The grading for this essay is “outcome based,” which means that a particular assignment can be revised or expanded as necessary to meet the established criteria for full credit of 10 points per assignment, assuming it is handed in on time. All assignments may be revised and must be handed back for full credit within two weeks. The criteria (each worth 2 points) are:
• a. Appropriate length and degree to which you interact with the material
• b. Use of appropriate and relevant examples from the course material
• c. Critical analysis of key concepts and perspectives
• d. Coherent argument and clear presentation of points
• e. Handed in on time (even if a draft)
CAE #1 (due 2/8) MAKING SENSE OF AL-MANSUR. Kennedy (ch. II) describes the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur, who founded the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad. In what way was al-Mansur a pious man? In what way was he a ruthless "Machiavellian" ruler (give at least two specific examples)? And what kind of administrative bureaucracy did al-Mansur create? Finally, what surprises you most about learning the history of this caliph?
CAE #2 (due 3/5) WHAT MAKES A TRANSLATION READABLE . On a separate webpage you will find the materials for this assignment.
CAE #3 (due 3/28) ARE THE NIGHTS 'PORNOGRAPHIC'? Based on the pun in the story of "The Porter and the Three Ladies" and Burton's description in his "Terminal Essay," do you think that the 1001 Nights contain 'pornography.' What defines 'pornography' to you today and do you think the same criteria would work for a text a thousand yearts old and from a different culture? Provide at least three specific examples from Burton's text to illustrate your argument. You can argue any way you wish, but the important thing is to back it up with the examples.
a. Finds relevant point of comparison (worth 2 points)
b. Clear and concise argument (worth 2 points)
6. STUDENT PROJECTS (See separate webpage here.)
Grading in this course is based on a 100 point scale (although the student has the opportunity to earn 104 points in the course). The “A” range will extend from 90-100, the “B” range from 80-89, the “C” range from 70-79, the D-range starting at 64. The point accumulation breaks down as follows:
ITEM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .TOTAL POINTS . . . . YOUR POINTS
Exam #1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Exam #2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Class Assignment Journal (CAJ) . . . . . . 30
Movie Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Student Project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104