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LIT 38 W — Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 25—Aug 31
Drop Deadline: Jun 28
Units: 2
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Natalya Sukhonos
Limit: 40
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 6/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Jun 25—Aug 31
10 weeks
Drop By
Jun 28
2 Units
Natalya Sukhonos
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 6/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Described as a “loose baggy monster” by Henry James, Tolstoy’s War and Peace is one of the most ambitious historical novels of world literature. Though set during the Napoleonic wars in Russia, War and Peace poses questions that are nonetheless undeniably modern: What is the role of individual agency in the whirlpool of historical drama? Is it possible to cross class lines to create real, long-lasting social change? War and Peace explores historical conflict from the perspectives of its diverse array of characters—servants and counts, misers and dreamers—whose voices break with the conventions of 19th-century realism through Tolstoy’s forays into stream of consciousness and defamiliarization. But the novel is not just a historical drama or a literary experiment. It is a delicate glimpse of the intimate life of Russia’s salons, drawing rooms, and servant quarters; of their whispers, fears, and worries. Its characters are richly layered and contradictory; their revelations and conquests are earnest but do not last. One of the great joys of War and Peace is getting lost in the characters’ debates and getting used to the cadences of their voices. Students will read the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation and will find that reading War and Peace is like hopping into the Russian troika for the literary joyride of a lifetime.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Natalya Sukhonos, Independent Scholar

Natalya Sukhonos’s area of research is 20th-century Russian and Latin American literature. She has taught literature, humanities, and writing at Harvard, Stanford, Cogswell College, and UC Davis. She received a PhD in comparative literature from Harvard.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Leo Tolstoy (Author), Pevear (Translator), Volokhonsky (Translator), War and Peace, Vintage Classic 2008 (ISBN 1400079985)