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Invitation to World Literature

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The Thousand and One Nights (30:00)

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This video introduces the world of high Islamic culture, lowbrow comedy, and encounters with the spirit world, all through the stories of the brave Shahrazad, who saves her own life, her husband's sanity, the kingdom, and all of her readers from the evils of life with her stories.

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Speakers in the video

Muhsin Al-Musawi
Muhsin Al-Musawi
Professor of Arabic Literature, Columbia University
Dr. Al-Musawi has written multiple books on The Thousand and One Nights, including The Islamic Context of the Arabian Nights in 2008.
Marin Alsop
Marin Alsop
Music Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Ms. Alsop has conducted Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade many times over the course of her career.  She was the first woman to be appointed conductor of a major U.S. orchestra and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur fellowship—the first conductor to win this prestigious award. 
Michael Barry
Michael Barry
Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
Mr. Barry is in Persian and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, and a special consultant on Islamic art and museum issues for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. He has written a definitive study of Persian miniature paintings called Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzâd of Herât (1465-1535). He also served as consultative chairman of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art.
David Damrosch
David Damrosch
Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Dr. Damrosch is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and the author of several books, including What Is World Literature?
Aly Jetha
Aly Jetha
Producer, 1001 Nights
Mr. Jetha spent several years working for the United Nations, spearheading international initiatives in the area of democratic transition and economic development through an NGO called Parliamentarians for Global Action.  He co-founded Big Bad Boo Studios with his wife, Shabnam Rezaei.  Their animated series 1001 Nights was nominated for four Leo Awards. 
Alonzo King
Alonzo King
Choreographer and Artistic Director, LINES Ballet
Mr. King choreographed a modern adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov's ballet Scheherazade in 2009 for the Monaco Dance Forum to inaugurate the Centenary of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo.  He founded Alonzo King LINES Ballet in 1982.  In December 2009, LINES premiered its version of Scheherazade, with a reinterpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov's score by Zakir Hussain.
Sandra Naddaff
Sandra Naddaff
Director of Studies and Senior Lecturer in Literature, Harvard University
Dr. Naddaff teaches a comparative literature course on The Thousand and One Nights and has published several articles on the tales, as well as the book Arabesque: Narrative Structure and the Aesthetics of Repetition in the 1001 Nights in 1991.
Shabnam Rezaei
Shabnam Rezaei
Producer, 1001 Nights
Ms. Rezaei was born in Iran and moved to Austria when she was a child, taking all of her father's volumes of The Thousand and One Nights with her. She co-founded Big Bad Boo Studios with her husband Aly Jetha.  Their animated series 1001 Nights was nominated for four Leo Awards. 
Bill Willingham
Bill Willingham
Comic Book Writer, 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Mr. Willingham is a comic book writer and artist, and creator of the popular DC Comics series Fables, which follows a cast of characters from classic fairytales.  His comic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall follows European fairytale characters into the land of The Thousand and One Nights, where Ali Baba, Aladdin, Sinbad, and Scheherazade all reside. 
Mary Zimmerman
Mary Zimmerman
Playwright, Director, and Professor of Performance Studies, Northwestern University
Dr. Zimmerman won a Tony award in 2002 for her direction of Metamorphoses on Broadway. She is Professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University as well as a playwright and theater director.  Dr. Zimmerman began writing her adaptation of The Arabian Nights during the Gulf War. The production toured nationally in 2009.