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Mary Neuburger, Director BUR 452, 2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3607

Spring 2008

REE 325 • Tolstoys War and Peace-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
45565 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
CBA 4.344

Course Description

Ortega y Gassett may have had War and Peace in mind when he wrote that "to enjoy a novel we must feel completely surrounded by it on all sides." This course will offer students a chance to immerse themselves in Tolstoy's epic novel. In fact, War and Peace can only be called a novel in an approximate sense, for it is among other things a meditation on the problem of writing history as well as a restless attempt to redefine the boundaries of literature. Reading War and Peace opens us up to the strangeness of the past, to the arbitrary and accidental nature of events, and to the multiplicity of fates involved. Above all, War and Peace refutes the tendency to think of history as the product of a few great men. As Tolstoy wrote in the Second Epilogue, modern history, like a deaf man, answers questions no one has asked. In reading War and Peace, the course will explore the works historical background and critical reception, its filiations with other works of historical fiction (such as the novels of Walter Scott).

Contains a substantial writing component and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Fulfills the basic Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies requirement in language, literature, and culture. Meets with RUS 360.

Grading Policy

1) Regular attendance and participation. 2) Completion of required reading by assigned date (see syllabus). 3) Course Work/Credit: Short Essay/Rewrite (5 pages/rewrite 5 pages) 20% Long Essay (10-12 pages) 40% Thesis statement and outline (2 pages) In-Class Essays (1-3 pages each) 20% Informed Participation/Class Discussion (including email submission of commentary/insights on weekly/biweekly assignments) 20%


Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (Norton Critical Edition). Isaiah Berlin, Russian Thinkers.


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