The Arabian Nights in Global Culture

Black and white drawing of Shahrazad, Shahrayar, and Dinarzad.

Apply your knowledge of languages to document translations and adaptations of The Arabian Nights in libraries and popular culture! 

Project description

The history of The Arabian Nights (sometimes known as The Thousand and One Nights) is complicated, messy, and truly global in scale. The earliest Arabic versions seem to have been translated from Persian and South Asian texts that are now lost. Translations from the Arabic were prepared in Greek, Romanian, and, most famously, by Antoine Gallant for his French as "Les mille et une nuit" (1704-1717). Re-translations from the French soon appeared in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Greek, and Russian. Strangely, it appears that some Arabic editions may themselves have been adapted from Gallant's French edition. These 19th century Arabic editions became the basis for subsequent translations in dozens of other languages.

Associate Professor Walter Hakala is seeking students who will work to identify and catalog translations of The Arabian Nights in archives like the White Collection of the Cleveland Public Library, examine the methods and sources of these translations, and understand the continued cultural significance of these stories in contemporary life in print, film, and new media. 

Project outcome

  • Conference presentation at an undergraduate research conference (e.g., Pittsburgh-Area Asia Consortium Undergraduate Conference, Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia, etc.)
  • Publication of research in an undergraduate research journal
  • Development of new syllabi on translations and world literature 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester
Start time Fall 2022
In-person, remote, or hybrid? Hybrid
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Research experience, academic credit
Who is eligible Undergraduate students who have taken AS221, ENG222, and/or AS338, knowledge of a language other than English, and familiarity with EndNote or similar bibliographical software

Core partners

Project mentor

Walter Hakala

Associate Professor

Asian Studies and English

315 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3419


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 


Asian Studies and English