Profile of a FWIS: Your Arabian Nights

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FWIS 125: Your Arabian Nights

An interview with Paula Sanders, Instructor

How did you get interested in this particular topic?
I'm a historian of the medieval Islamic world, so I've always been aware of the Nights as a part of medieval Islamic culture. I also grew up in the US and have been exposed to the Nights in many different forms and versions. I was doing a project a few years ago on the 19th century, and I began to learn more about the literary history of the Nights in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it made me start to think about what constitutes an "authentic" literary masterpiece.

What is one thing you hope students draw from this FWIS?
In addition to reading and analyzing some really wonderful stories, I hope students will use the class as an opportunity to think about storytelling: why do we tell stories at all? why do we find them compelling? why do we adopt the stories of other cultures and how do we make them our own?

What advice do you have for first-year students (about FWIS or their first semester in general)?
My advice is about the first semester in general: (1) learn to prioritize; (2) eat well and get enough sleep (that's far more important than most realize); (3) seek out the unfamiliar intellectually and in your interactions with our diverse community; (4) MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL--don't be afraid to ask for help, whether it's for small or large things. The University is filled with people who can help you and who *want* to help you!