Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace: A Guided Reading with Jeffrey Brooks, PhD

fall 23

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Course Title: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace: A Guided Reading

Instructor: Jeffrey Brooks

Brought to you by Odyssey  

October 25, 2023 - November 29, 2023 (6 Sessions)  

Wednesday, 6:00 PM ET 

Virtual via Zoom


COURSE DESCRIPTION: In War and Peace Tolstoy evokes the chaos of war, offers a cornucopia of characters, and probes the complexity of love and heroism. In the context of the Emancipation of the Russian serfs, he expands the realist novel to question the very meaning of historical inquiry. Although the work is 150 years old, it remains live to readers globally and especially in Russian-speaking countries. Soldiers of the Russian and Ukrainian armies, and even the convicts of Prigozhin’s forces, carry Pierre, Andrei, Natasha, and the full caste into the trenches thanks to their high school lessons in literature. In this course we will read Richard Pevear’s and Larissa Volokhonsky’s superb translation and watch the British TV award-winning 2016 adaption directed by Tom Harper. The six scheduled lectures will treat the context in which Tolstoy wrote the novel and expected it to be understood. There are no written assignments and there will be time to discuss the text and the films.


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Johns Hopkins alumni, staff, faculty and their spouse or domestic partners are eligible for tuition remission for Odyssey lifelong learning courses. Select the correct ticket pricing during registration. If we cannot confirm your eligibility, you will be requested to pay the full registration price for the course.  Eligibility details can be found here

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100% refund- Prior to the start of the course. 

50% refund- During the first week of the course. 

No refunds will be given after the first week of each course unless in exceptional cases. 

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ABOUT Jeffrey Brooks (Ph.D)
Professor, History

I study and teach the political and cultural history of modern Russia, the history of the Soviet-American Cold War, and the great works of Russian and Soviet culture in their contemporary context. My The Firebird and the Fox: Russian Culture under Tsars and Bolsheviks (Cambridge University Press, 2019) showcases the genius of Russian literature, art, music, and dance over a century of turmoil within the dynamic cultural ecosystem that shaped it. The Firebird and the Fox explores the shared traditions, mutual influences, and enduring themes that recur in these art forms from 1850-1950. The book uses two emblematic characters from Russian culture—the firebird, symbol of the transcendent power of art in defiance of circumstance and the efforts of censors to contain creativity; and the fox, usually female and representing wit, cleverness and the agency of artists and everyone who triumphs over adversity—to explore how Russian cultural life changed over the period. High culture drew on folk and popular genres, then in turn influences an expanding commercial culture.

My research has been supported by The Guggenheim Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Council for Soviet and East European Research, and the IREX Academy Exchange, among others.

I received the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award in Arts and Sciences in 2004.


 Event Date
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
6:00pm EDT

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
7:30pm EDT

1-800-JHU-JHU1 (548-5481)

80% discount. Alumni status will be confirmed
50% discount. Employment status will be confirmed
50% discount. Employment status will be confirmed

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