Fall 2016 - HIST 419W D100

Problems in Modern Russian History (4)

Anna Karenina's Russia

Class Number: 8468

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2501, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 224 or 225.



Advanced analysis of specific problems in social, intellectual, and political history of modern Russia. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 419W may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Writing.


Anna Karenina's Russia

The Russian Empire was going through tumultuous political and social change in the time period when Leo Tolstoy conceived Anna Karenina. In this seminar, we will use this novel, written in 1875-1877, as a starting point to explore and analyze late-19th-century Russian history and culture. Among the topics we will discuss are family life, social relations, modernization and industrialization, gender and sexuality, imperialism, art, war, and political power. To be sure, we will not use Anna Karenina merely as a window onto Russian and European history – although it is a fabulous window – but also take the time to appreciate the novel’s production, structure, and aesthetics and explore its author’s biography and legacy.

Participants who complete the seminar will have read and grappled with one of the most acclaimed works in world literature, a worthwhile goal in and of itself. They will also advance their understanding of the history of imperialism in general and the Russian empire of the 19th century in particular, especially as it existed during the tumultuous reign of Alexander II. And they will have an opportunity to improve their writing skills.

EXPECTATIONS:  Students enrolled in this seminar will be required to produce several response papers, and write two different essays. The required length of the first essay is 6-9 pages. The required length of the second essay is 10-16 pages. Students will be expected to participate actively in, and sometimes lead, discussions and prepare at least one oral presentation. Students should also be prepared for a possibility of one or more pop quizzes on the reading.


  • Seminar participation (including presentation) 30%
  • Response papers 10%
  • First essay 20%
  • Final essay 40%



Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.  Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  Penguin Books, 2004.
*Please note: In this seminar we will use only this translation. Bring it with you to each class session.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html