CFP – Conference on Scheherazade – The University of Sheffield 19 May 2016


The School of English – The University of Sheffield holds an interdisciplinary research conference on Thursday 19 May 2016, entitled Scheherazade in Classical, Modern and Postmodern Worlds.


Scheherazade is the legendary female storyteller of Alf layla wa Layla or The Thousand and One Nights or what is often known in English as the Arabian Nights. She uses narrative to preserve her life and the lives of other women victims of her tyrannical ruler-husband, Shahryar. She can be seen as a multicultural emblem since the origin of the tales themselves comes from a multiplicity of sources, including Indian, Persian, Baghdadi and Cairene, later translated into European and numerous other languages. Over the years, Scheherazade has been analysed from a very great range of academic perspectives due to the variety of interpretations of her character and role.  Immediately, after the advent of interdisciplinary criticism in the late twentieth century, she began to be studied and analyzed by scholars from various fields including Anthropology, Linguistics, Psychology and Literary Theory.  As a result of the various studies she was hailed as a literary and mythical figure who is a brilliant narrator and an artist who has created a profound work of art. The modern psychological analysis of Scheherazade demonstrates that her stories speak to the unconscious of the individual to help him or her to transform destructive impulses into harmless fantasies.

Other twentieth-century analyses of the Arabian Nights have focused on the manuscript history of the stories, their structure and narrative techniques as well as their influence on Western literature and culture.

This conference will address the question of the history of Scheherazade, how she is analysed in the fields of Anthropology, Linguistics, Psychology, Literary Theory, how feminist, deconstructionist, and poststructuralist scholars view her, her adaptation and influence on Western literature and culture.  It will reassess her history from a twenty-first century perspective, viewed in the light of contemporary relations between the Arabic world and the West, following Jorge Luis Borges’ insight that in many ways Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights constitute ‘a vast dream of Islam, that invaded the West’.

Research students and academics are warmly invited to contribute to the conference.

The keynote speaker is Dr Richard van Leeuwen, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Amsterdam.

All paper submissions will be peer reviewed and a proceedings volume is planned.

Submit proposals up to 250 words for 20 minute papers (followed by 10 minutes for discussion). The deadline for submission is 25th of February 2016.

Please include your name, email address and short biography. Proposals and any enquiries should be sent to Bushra Juhi Jani at: 

Details of how to register for the event will be posted on Facebook and Twitter by 10th of May 2016.  We hope you’ll be able to join us!

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The conference is sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Post Graduate Forum

Topics may include but are not exclusively restricted to the following:

cultural studies and historical approaches

film and television

gender studies and sexuality

text and intertextuality