Arabian Nights Unframed: Have You Seen This Protagonist?
Mentor:Brian Rasmussen, Assistant Professor of English, California Lutheran University
The story of Scheherazade, the protagonist of Arabian Nights’ frame story and narrator of the ensuing stories, has widely influenced English literature, yet little or no research examines those versions of Arabian Nights, such as Kate Douglass Wiggins’, which remove both Scheherazade and her frame story. I argue that although both Husain Haddawy’s 2010 edition and Kate Douglas Wiggin’s 2012 edition lay claim to the title of Arabian Nights, Douglass’ exclusion of Scheherazade reveals the editor’s wish to regain control over the narrative. As a result, the editor effectively removes the Eastern female voice in favor of a Western editor’s revisions, and is free to remold the stories into a short collection, using the title as the only binding element. Using these texts as representatives, along with Edward Said’s Orientalism and Charlotte Szilagyi’s “Framed! Encountering Otherness in Frame Narratives,” I survey this frame story’s role in bringing order to non-concurrently written stories, and the extreme pruning of the stories which occurs as a result of its removal. This project details Arabian Nights’ removal of Scheherazade as an important continuation of the text’s ongoing revision at the expense of its ethnographic and gender-conscious elements.