History | War and Peace: Russia in the Age of Napoleon
J300 | 14450 | Eklof
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class COLL intensive writing section
Above class open to undergraduates only
Through selected readings in Tolstoy's historical novel, War and
Peace, we examine the dramatic events of the Napoleonic era, when
Russia was led by a charismatic but flawed Tsar, when Russia was
invaded and had to fight for its survival, when a country achieved
its zenith as a European and world power, and boasted a glittering
aristocratic culture, and when Russia began its golden age of poetry
and literature. This was also an era of serfdom, when ninety percent
of the population lived in conditions similar to slavery, but at the
same time enjoyed a standard of living, and perhaps a daily freedom
comparable to that of commoners elsewhere in the Western world.
Students are strongly encouraged to read "War and Peace" over the
summer. Please write me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a study guide.
Requirements will conform with university requirements for intensive
For a course to qualify for IW credit, students must be required to
write at least 5,000 words (roughly 20 typed pages), not counting
revisions (and excluding essay examinations and informal writing,
e.g., journals or brief response statements). Students must receive
periodic evaluations of their writing, and they must be required to
redraft one or more papers in light of the instructor's criticism.
Ordinarily students will write a series of papers over the course of
a semester, not one long term paper. A single long paper (for
example, an honors thesis) may be acceptable, however, if it is
drafted in sections that are reviewed during the semester, and if the
entire paper is revised at last once before the course ends.
Students are required to come to class with all the required reading
completed in advance. Repeated failure to comply with this
requirement will result in a failing grade for the course. This is
not a punitive measure but a precondition for informed and lively
discussions in class.
Readings: Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. by Anthony Briggs
(Penguin 2005). ISBN 978-0-14-303999-0 (The Norton edition is also
acceptable, but it differs considerably, and will cause us some
difficulty finding precise passages in class discussions); Aleksandr
Nikitenko, Up From Serfdom: My Childhood and Youth in Russia, 1804-
1824 (Yale University Press 2001). Both books are available in
paperback. Other readings will be assigned on E-Reserve.