Fall 2024

War and Peace

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-128


Leo Tolstoy insisted that War and Peace was not a novel, all appearances to the contrary. As we carefully read his subversive masterpiece, we will consider the ways in which the book attempts to revolutionize what literature can do, by posing radical questions about freedom, violence, the relationship between the life of the mind and everyday experience, the value of culture, the possibility of change, and the search for an authentic self. This course takes Tolstoy's text as a departure point for exploring the possibilities of interpretation as an intellectual practice: the fictions of history and the truth of fiction; the challenges of writing about emotions, events, and texts; and the attempts to adapt something as complex and unorthodox as this book to stage and filmincluding a recent BBC re-make and a Broadway "electropop opera."

How to handle overenrollment: Dean of New Students will determine

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on careful reading and analysis of literary works; active in-class discussions and online forums; writing assignments of varying lengths; collaboration with classmates on a brief in-class presentation.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024