Scheherazade in Istanbul: A Study of the Popular Turkish Television Series Binbir Gece

  • Maryam Ghorbankarimi (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


Scheherazade in Istanbul: A Study of the Popular Turkish TV Series Binbir Gece
Maryam Ghorbankarimi, University of St Andrews

The Arabian Nights is a composite work consisting of popular stories originally transmitted orally and developed during several centuries and ever since its translation into European languages in the 19th C. or perhaps even before, it has been adapted and appropriated into different forms and mediums and thus has reached the different corners of the world. The medium that this paper is concerned with is the screen adaptations of the nights into film and television. Among the earliest popular albeit free adaptations of 1001 Nights stories we can mention Douglas Fairbanks’ silent Hollywood golden era swashbuckling film The Thief of Baghdad (1924) or Bugs Bunny's 3rd movie 1001 Rabbit Tales (1982) and of course Disney’s Aladdin (1992).

What has inspired this project is the popularity or the level of popularity of 1001 nights or the Arabian Night in the world today. Although only a very little number of people might have read all the tales, we can safely assume that most people do have an idea of what the Nights are. And a few could even name one or two films, series, or cartoons that they think are based on the Nights. Indeed, only a very limited number of stories included in editions of the Nights have been adapted for films or TV series.
However, there are two main characteristics to the Nights that help identify adaptations and adoptions in popular culture: embedded storytelling using a frame tale, and the ‘feminist’, emancipating heroine Shahrazad. The popular Turkish TV series 1001 Nights (Binbir Gece, 2006-09) that this paper focuses on, does not only makes use of these two popular features. It also offers a fresh and contemporary adaptation of the frame story of Shah Shahriyar and Shahrazad and elements from many other tales from the Nights such as emphasising the importance of education for women or the evil of cunning women etc. After analysing the degree of adaptation of the frame story in this soap opera, the paper will shed light on its reception and popularity.
Period31 Aug 20171 Sept 2017
Event titleOne Thousand and One Nights: Comparative Perspectives on Adaptation and Appropriation
Event typeConference
LocationSt Andrews, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational