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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Popular Television
Issue number2
Number of pages23
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Arabian Nights is a composite transnational work consisting of popular stories originally transmitted orally within its imbedded cultures developed during several centuries. 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 different corners of the world.

What has inspired this project is the popularity or the level of popularity of 1001 Nights or the Arabian Nights 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 into films or TV series.

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 Scheherazade. 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 Scheherazade 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 series, the paper will shed light on its global reach, reception and popularity.