RU 235/335 Tolstoy Sp. 01

In this course we will be studying Lev Tolstoy’s development as a writer and thinker. Our primary concern will be with the great themes by which Tolstoy was driven as a man and a writer: love, death, war, and peace. An additional topic will be his lifelong concern with the relationship between God, history, and the purpose of an individual life. A major emphasis will be on the connection between the way we write and the way we think. We will discuss Tolstoy’s search for truth and for a literary form and a way of life which would express the truth as he saw it and which would unite people in love.


Tolstoy, A Confession and Other Religious Writings

", Death of Ivan Ilych

", The Sebastopol Sketches

", War and Peace

Class participation and Oral Work

The course will be run as a seminar with close discussion of texts by Tolstoy. Two students will be responsible for starting off the discussion for each class. You are required to attend class and to participate. In addition, there will be several days set aside for student presentations on your own papers. I will also have my own prepared material to cover for each class.

Written Assignments

There will be three types of written assignments in the course: four one to two page take home essays; a short paper (5-7 pages) on War and Peace; and a long paper (10-12 pages) on a topic of your choice. You may rewrite all of these assignments. The rough due dates for the assignments are given below. More specific due dates will be announced when the assignments are given.

Students in 335 will have a different set of assignments which we will determine at our first meeting. We will also meet an additional two times to discuss the texts in Russian. We will only read segments of the works in Russian.


Class Participation 25%

3 best one page essays 25%

Short Paper 20%

Long Paper 30%

The final date for withdrawing from the course is the last day of class. Please familiarize yourself with the College’s policy on academic dishonesty.

Schedule of Class Meetings

January 16 Introduction 18 "Sebastopol in December"

23 "Sebastopol in May" 25 "Sebastopol in August"

There will be a short essay at the end of this section

January 30- April 12 War and Peace

We will read the entire novel. Specific guidelines and pages will be distributed as we discuss the book. The following general guidelines for the weeks when we will be discussing the novel will help you plan your reading. The approximate number of pages for each week is in parentheses. These estimates are based on the edition ordered for the course.

Week 1 Book One, Two (170)

2 Book Three, Four (126)

3 Book Five, Six (126)

4 Book Seven, Eight (103) Short Essay 2

5 Book Nine, Ten (195)

6 Book Eleven, Twelve (141)

7 Book Thirteen, Fourteen (123) Short Essay 3

8 Epilogues (77) and Tolstoy’s philosophy of history

9, 10 Summary discussion Paper on War and Peace

April 17 "A Confession" 19 "Confession"

24 "Law of Love and Law of Violence" 26 "Love & Violence"

April 30, May 1 "Ivan Ilych"

Short essay 4 will be on the final section of the course.

The final draft of your long paper will be due on the scheduled final exam day.