Slavic Languages and Literatures | War and Peace
S320 | 13644 | Stefani


Vast in scope and with characters that have captivated readers for generations, Tolstoy’s
novel War and Peace is one of the greatest achievements not just in Russian literature, but
in world literature as a whole. It is a story of Russia at war, both with a foreign enemy and,
in many ways, with itself. The novel poses fundamental questions about why nations go to
war, what factors determine national and personal identity, and what comprises great
events of history. It also asks us to examine the nature and importance of family and
human beings’ relations to each other and to the world. More fundamentally, however, it
questions how both history and novels should be written. In this team-taught,
interdisciplinary course, we will examine Tolstoy’s great work from the perspectives of
both history and literature. The class will be led by faculty members from both the
Department of History and the Slavic Department, so that students will engage in the way
different disciplines approach the problems and questions the novel poses. Students will
read War and Peace, as well as supplementary works related to the novel’s historical and
cultural background, and will watch the 1966 film version by Sergei Bondarchuk. This
course carries S&H credit.