SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Ouyang, Wen-chin (2024) 'Framing and Meaning: Coincidence, Entanglement and Wonder in The Thousand and One Nights.' Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 24 (1). pp. 189-208.

Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0).

Download (332kB) | Preview


Framing in The Thousand and One Nights (Alf layla wa-layla) brings together not only people and their stories but also temporalities, geographies and destinies. It stages coincidental encounters of these in en- tangled story lines (story within story) of the Nights and generates meaning through the strangeness (gharāba) of the narrated coincidences and the wonder (ʿajab) effect of the entanglement of temporalities, geographies and destinies resulting from them. Wonder, this paper argues, is the Nights’ interrogation of the role of language and narrative in structuring ontology and epistemology. I will look at a particular entanglement engineered by framing in the Nights, between, first, the “Hunchback” and other Nights tales, second, between the different stories in the “Hunchback,” and third between this cycle and adab (learned literature in Arabic). In so doing, I explore the context of the extra-diegetic canvas of an imagined infinite universe, and show how narrative framing engages with and pushes the boundaries of narrative in order to capture what narrative leaves out, and produce meaning and generate effect. Three elements of the meaning generated in the entanglement between the Nights, especially the “Hunchback,” and adab will be the foci of discussion: the idealization of kingship and imagination of community, the subversion of the world of adab, and the formulation of a moral universe based in beauty

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Framing, coincidence, entanglement, ʿajīb, gharīb, adab, The Thousand and One Nights, Arabian Nights
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISSN: 0806198X
Copyright Statement: © Wen-chin Ouyang, SOAS University of London, UK
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2023 08:43

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item