Robert Ladd
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division
  • Ancient Literature
  • Class Activity
  • Discussion board
  • Group work
  • World Literature
  • ancient-literature
  • class-activity
  • discussion-board
  • group-work
  • world-literature
    Public Domain Dedication
    Media Formats:
    Audio, Text/HTML, Video

    In Class Activity or Online Discussion: One Thousand and One Nights Literary Quick Take

    In Class Activity or Online Discussion: One Thousand and One Nights Literary Quick Take


    The literary quick takes are weekly discussions and in-class activities that I use to frame the text for the students. This is mostly formative and graded based on engagement.

    Literary Quick Takes

    I use this for group discussion in both online and in-class formats. It is intended to allow students to explore the meaning of the text in relation to themselves and to engage in meaningful discussion with peers. 

    In the analysis for One Thousand and One Nights, we spent quite some time discussing the problematic and orientalist treatment of the text by Western "authors" such as Galland. For this chapter, however, our main focus is on treating and representing women and a different kind of subjection. Specifically, we will discuss the dynamic between Shahrayar and Scheherazade.

    As noted, there is a clear double standard in Shahrayar's violent and negative response to his wife's infidelity. Shahrayar was clearly not faithful with multiple official concubines, yet he was still deeply jealous and violent in his reaction to his wife partaking in the same behavior. Here is a primer on envy:

    As noted in the video, envy can be sparked because the event, e.g., the Queen committing infidelity, signals a loss in social statuses, like Briseis being taken from Achilles in Chapter Two. Achilles saw Briseis as nothing more than an object that signaled his standing, however, and this is not an acceptable view of women. Shahrayar is also guilty of this objectification of women due to his jealousy; this is also reflected in many of the stories Scheherazade orates, including the story of the demon who keeps a woman in a box to control her and keep her "pure" (note this has the exact opposite effect!).

    Similar to the aforementioned loss of honor, in our modern societal understanding (where we do not fight each other to the death for honor and standing), it is common knowledge that a sense of insecurity creates envy or jealousy. However, love is not jealous nor possessive, as many secular and religious texts convey. Here is Chantelle Anderson, a Vanderbilt basketball player speaking to the const of insecurity:

    With this in mind, what does Scheherazade teach Shahrayar and her audience (us!) about the nature of love and compassion and the dangers of an insecure, jealous mind?

    As a bonus: