Courses Detail Information

ENGL2230J – Arabian Nights in British Literature


Matthew Risling

Credits: 4 credits

Pre-requisites: ENGL1000J Obtained Credit


This course examines the Arabic folktales translated as the Arabian Nights Entertainments (1706). They informed numerous literary genres including gothic and science fiction. Through lectures and discussions we will explore these uniquely cosmopolitan tales on their own merits and for what they say about colonial Britain’s perspectives on the East.

Course Topics:

  1. The Arabian Nightsas a unique literary genre
  2. The complex history of translating the Arabian Nights, and the difficulty with translation more generally.
  3. Britain’s rise as a global power
  4. “Orientalism” and post-colonial theory
  5. New approaches to the Arabian Nights, focussing on empathy, cosmopolitanism, and cultural exchange.
  6. Comparing pre-colonial and colonial versions of the Arabian Nights
  7. Western modernity in Eastern tales: the eighteenth-century ‘Oriental Tale’ as a philosophical and proto-science fiction genre
  8. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century attitudes towards luxury and consumption
  9. Gothic literature
  10. Romantic literature