History | War and Peace: Russia-Age of Napoleon
J300 | 16909 | Eklof
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class COLL intensive writing section
Above class open to undergraduates only
Through 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 also of
cultural flowering and intellectual debate. When War and Peace was
written, Russia was undergoing the Great Reforms, which profoundly
shaped Tolstoy’s understanding of the previous era and his view on
politics and society. We examine war, politics, social structure
and daily life and examine Tolstoy’s view of history and of Russian
national identity (embedded in his famous chapter “Natasha’s Dance”.
We also watch and discuss S. Bondarchuk’s multi-part Soviet era film
rendition of the novel.
Students are strongly encouraged to begin to read "War and Peace"
over the Christmas break. Please write me [email@example.com] for a
Requirements [will conform with university requirements for
intensive writing courses].
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 least 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 (subject to modification, depending upon availability)
Leo Tolstoy, "War and Peace" (Penguin edition, Briggs trans., ONLY)
A.N. Wilson, "Tolstoy" (Penguin, 2001)
Other (Recommended, or selections from)
Janet Hartley, "Alexander I"
Nikitenko, "Up From Serfdom"
Peter Kolchin, "Unfree Labor"
Natasha Durova, "A Russian Cavalry Maiden"
Priscilla Roosevelt, "Life on the Russian Country Estate"
Isabel de Madariaga, "Catherine the Great"
M. Raeff, "Imperial Russia, 1682-1825"