Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (RUST 341D JS) Fall 2017

NB: August 30 is the last day to DROP a course without financial penalty. October 13 is the last day to drop a course without academic penalty. November 20 is the last day to drop a course with a WP/WF transcript record.

If you don't understand what the above means, you should ask me!

Required Texts
You must buy these books. No exceptions.

The Russian Moment in History - ISBN 978-0691126067
War and Peace (Pevear/Volkhonsky Translation) - ISBN 978-1400079988. You must buy the "real," paper edition.
Hidden in Plain View - ISBN 978-0804717182


  • Several content quizzes (identify the quote, its context and importance) 10%
  • Critical Summaries of secondary literature (Poe, Morson, Berlin) 45% (three papers, evaluation value divided evenly)
  • Little thematic papers on war stories + W&P (4 of them) (a total of 5 short papers) 25%
  • Final Essay (10-15pp) 20%

Classroom Policies

  • Participation and attendance are crucial. We will be moving at a fast pace, and any missed class will slow down not only the absent student, but also the entire class. Therefore, ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. We meet about thirty times during the semester. I figure that "regular attendance" means missing no more than three courses: ninety-percent attendance is excellent, an A. Each class missed beyond three lowers your FINAL grade by an increment, i.e., from B+ to B. Perfect attendance will be rewarded.
  • Basic rules of good behavior will be observed. In case your mommy failed to teach you these, they are here enumerated: 1) Be seated, with books and pencils at the ready, at the beginning of class. 2) Never, but never, speak with your neighbor while someone else is speaking. 3) Always bring your text to class with you. 4) Be discrete with drinks and food. It is preferable not to eat at all during class. 5) Do not slouch, recline, lie prostrate, or practice martial arts during class. 6) Never, but never, get ready to leave until you have been dismissed.
  • This syllabus is subject to revision up until the January 27. The final version will be the one published on the web at the course wiki on that date.
  • Our classroom is an electronics-free zone. Yeah, I know. I do most of my reading and all my writing using machines. I like my gadgets more than you like your gadgets. But they are a dreadful distraction in the classroom. For a few hours every week, at least, put them away. No laptops. No phones. No tablets. Print everything—it's free at Stetson, and if you feel guilty, give a few bucks to the Nature Conservancy or something. Zero tolerance.
  • Read your email every day. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony of this policy following the one above.) If I send you an email, it is exactly the same as my saying it to you directly, face to face. "I didn't get the email" is not an excuse.
  • I do not accept papers late, ever. No flexibility. Give me what you have when the deadline arrives. Please, believe me, this policy is in your best interest.

Office Hours
Lead Instructor: Michael A. Denner
Phone: Don't bother… I won't answer.
E-mail: ude.nostets|rennedm#ude.nostets|rennedm
Office: Upstairs at the Russian Studies Center
Office Hours: By appointment… I'm readily available, but no fixed schedule… Check my calendar!

I plan to eat supper in the Commons before class every Wednesday, and I welcome you to join me to chat about literature, big ideas, &c. Also, on Thursdays, Georgian cooking lessons in Allen Hall!

Accommodation Statement
If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, please meet with me so that we can discuss ways to ensure your full participation in the course. If you determine that disability-related accommodations are necessary, please register with the Academic Resources Center (822-7127; and notify me of your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. We can then plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.--

Academic Honesty
I take this requirement very seriously, and I'm anything but stupid. DO NOT DO IT. I will catch you. Consult the Student Handbook. Any evidence of plagiarism or other sorts of academic dishonesty will be dealt with a la russe… which means, really really brutally. I'll remind you of the pledge you were required to take at orientation: "As a member of Stetson University, I agree to uphold the highest standards of integrity in my academic work. I promise that I will neither give nor receive unauthorized aid of any kind on my tests, papers, and assignments. When using the ideas, thoughts, or words of another in my work, I will always provide clear acknowledgement of the individuals and sources on which I am relying. I will avoid using fraudulent, falsified, or fabricated evidence and/or material. I will refrain from resubmitting without authorization work for one class that was obtained from work previously submitted for academic credit in another class. I will not destroy, steal, or make inaccessible any academic resource material.By my actions and my example, I will strive to promote the ideals of honesty, responsibility, trust, fairness, and respect that are at the heart of Stetson's Honor System."

Due Dates

We write a lot of very short (2-3 pp) papers…

  • Poe: September 13
  • "Little paper" on the war stories: September 18
  • Four "Little papers" on War and Peace: The first is due after when we start the novel September 25, the final one is due no later than November 20. You choose the dates due, but you cannot turn in more than one paper per week… That's roughly eight weeks, four papers.
  • Morson: November 27
  • Berlin: December 4
  • Final Paper: (per final examination schedule)


There is a method to this reading schedule. First, I think you should spend roughly 10 hours per week on this class, including the roughly 3 hours a week we spend in class together. So, reading and writing outside the classroom should be roughly 7 hours. (You're a full-time student. Let's just say that a full-time student means 40 hours per week of coursework; this seminar should be 1/4 of your load, or 10 hours per week.) So, if you find yourself spending a lot more than 7 hours a week reading and writing, let me know.

Second, the order of readings: We read Tolstoy's oeuvre chronologically, starting with his early war stories, sequencing through the EPIC War and Peace, and finishing with his masterpiece Hadji Murat. We read some secondary criticism, starting with The Russian Moment in World History for background and because, strangely, Poe shares Tolstoy's vision of "what it means to be Russia/Russian." After finishing War and Peace, we turn to secondary criticism of the novel. The analyses of the novel are lucid and convincing, which is exactly why we read them after the novel… The work of the class, what we do together, is try to develop our own interpretive framework, or own ideas. If we read the secondary criticism earlier, it would "infect" our original analysis. (There are innumerable correct interpretations of any given text… and the better the text, the better the interpretations that it elicits!)

Monday, August 28: "After the Ball." Introductions, overview of the course, expectations, etc.
For our next class on Wednesday, August 30…

  • Read Sevastopol in December, an early (1855) war piece by Tolstoy. It's very short, but I've included the translator's preface, which will help you to grasp the historical context. Plan on forty-five minutes. Read this for Wednesday's class. Print it and bring it to class with you!

Wednesday, August 30: Lecture, brief Tolstoy biography. We'll discuss Sevastopol in December-style, peculiarities, views of war and violence, etc.

DUE FOR WEEK OF September 4:

  • Read the entirety of The Russian Moment in World History. A short invective of about 100 pp.. You should own this book. Take EXTENSIVE notes on this, as you'll be writing a critical summary, due September 13. (Finish reading it by Wednesday; summary due September 13.)
  • Read the very short excerpt from Pisarev's "The Old Gentry" for September 6. (Part of the Norton readings. Read 1377-1380.)
  • Introduction and chapter one (about 30 pp.) of D. Lieven's Russia against Napoleon. (due next Monday but start it now)

Monday, September 4: Enjoy whatever holiday this is… Happy day!
Wednesday September 6: First 30 minutes: Discussion of Poe, expectations for Critical Summary (due September 18). Then, a guest lecture by Dr. Fowler on Russia in 1812 versus Russia in 1856.

DUE FOR WEEK OF September 11: You have a paper to write, a documentary to watch, and a selection from a history book to read. Start working on the paper early.

  • Watch the CBC documentary Napoleon Bonaparte (about 3 hours) on YouTube when you have some downtime.
  • Read this brief extract from Napoleon by Geoffrey Ellis. (Plan to spend an hour on the reading; concentrate on the conclusion.) (due Monday)
  • First short paper: A critical summary of Poe Russian Moment. Here is the assignment sheet.
  • Remember to print and bring all the texts you've read to class!

Monday, September 11: Short content quiz on Napoleon documentary & Ellis. More discussion of Poe and the critical summary. Last 40 minutes, a guest lecture by Dr. Kurlander on Napoleon's influence on Europe.
Wednesday, September 13: Bringing together a lot of strands about Napoleon: Discuss Lieven, Kurlander's lecture, the CBC documentary, and Ellis' article. We'll end the class with reflection on Poe and writing. (Poe paper due at beginning of class, not accepted late!)

DUE FOR WEEK OF September 18: We start reading the novel itself… But first…

  • Read "Sevastopol in May". Essentially "part II" of Sevastopol cycle of stories, but not a continuation of "December." (due Monday)
  • "The Raid". Another very short war story, written a bit before the Sevastopol stories (1852) while Tolstoy is on active duty in the Caucasus.
  • For September 18: Write a "little paper" on any or all of the war stories from Tolstoy we have read: "May," "Raid," or "December."
  • Volume One, Parts One and Two of War and Peace. This is due next week, but you really should start now…
  • Remember to print and bring all the texts you've read to class!

Monday, September 18:Your first "little paper" is due. We will discuss "May" and "Raid" and work through Tolstoy's thoughts on violence, war, soldiers…
Wednesday, September 20: I introduce the intellectual background of the 1850s and the novel.

DUE FOR WEEK OF September 25:

  • By Wednesday you should have complete the novel through Volume One
  • "A Few Words apropos of the Book War and Peace (p 1217-1225 of P/V translation) (due for later… but, again, hey, start now!)
  • the Publication History of War and Peace (one page) (Part of the Norton readings.)
  • Before November 20: FOUR "little papers". You choose the topic, you choose the date due, but you cannot turn in more than one paper per week…

Monday, September 25: Lecture, discussion of "A Few Words." Short content quiz on Part One.
Wednesday, September 27: Lecture, small-group discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF October 2:

  • Volume Two through Part Three (by Wednesday read to p. 487)

Monday, October 2: FALL BREAK O HAPPY DAY!
Wednesday, October 4: Short content quiz, lecture, small-group discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF October 9:

  • Finish Volume Two (by Wednesday read to p. 600)

Monday, October 9: Lecture, discussion
Wednesday, October 11: Short content quiz, lecture, small-group discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF October 16:

  • Volume Three, Part Two, ix (by Wednesday through p. 722)

Monday, October 16: Lecture, discussion
Wednesday, October 18: Short content quiz over reading, lecture, small-group discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF October 23:

  • Read to p. 935

Monday, October 23: Lecture, discussion
Wednesday, October 25: Short content quiz, lecture, small-group discussion


  • Finish Volume Four, Part Three (read to p. 1075)

Monday, October 30: Lecture, discussion
Wednesday, November 1: Short content quiz, lecture, small-group discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF November 6:

  • Read Volume Four Part Four

Monday, November 6: BATTLE!!!! Paintball. Suit up, you worms, you chair à cannon! And don't forget close-toed shoes and bottled water…
Wednesday, November 8: Short content quiz on readings; lecture, discussion

DUE FOR WEEK OF November 13:

  • Read the Epilogues (finish the book!)

Monday, November 13: Lecture, discussion
Wednesday, November 15: Short content quiz, lecture, discussion… AWARD CEREMONY

DUE FOR WEEK OF November 20:

Formal Elements of War and Peace

  • Hidden in Plain View (Morson). See the HIPV page for more details. (Finish for Wednesday's discussion.)
  • All War and Peace little papers are due November 20.
  • Due November 27 (the day you're back from break!): Write a 500-word critical summary of chapter one from HIPV.

Monday, November 20: Discussion of Part I of HiPV. Discussion of Critical Summary
Wednesday, November 22: Go home and eat turkey or whatever you want. No class.

DUE FOR WEEK OF November 27: Historiography

Monday, November 27: HIPV summary due. Discussion of HiPV. Begin discussion of Berlin .
Wednesday, November 29: The whole class on Berlin. (You should be reading Hadji Murat)

DUE FOR WEEK OF December 4: Hadji Murat and consultations.

  • Hadji Murat (due Monday).

Monday, December 4: Lecture, quiz, discuss Hadji, the nonviolence/violence problem. Reflection on the class: History, community, violence and art.
Wednesday, December 6: Individual meetings with Dr Denner to discuss final paper.

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