Professor Chloë Kitzinger

In English. No prerequisites. 

In this course, we have the rare chance to spend a semester reading just one book: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1865–69). War and Peace tells the story of Russia’s military struggles with Napoleon between 1805 and 1812, but it is also a story about many other things: friendship, love, violence, and death; parents and children, imperialism, nationalism, and strategy, and the search for one’s place in the world. As we read the novel, we will pause to explore in depth some of the big questions it raises: the atrocities of war; how history gets written; the uses of art and literature; and the problems of causality, moral responsibility, free will, and time. We will discuss the place of War and Peace in Tolstoy’s life and career, the book’s afterlife in film and stage adaptations, and the complications of reading it in a new era of Russian expansionism and war. Through all these topics, the course combines immersion in the world of War and Peace with an investigation of how and where the novel leads beyond its covers.

Fulfills SAS Core goal WCd.