Robert A. Schneider

Professor, Department of History (on leave 2023-24)

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

In both my teaching and scholarship, my main focus has been on Early Modern Europe, with a research interest in France. And within this field I have largely hewed to one central theme: the formation of the centralized state, which arguably was most and earliest apparent in France, along with the cultural and social aspects of this particular political development. This reflects an interest, not only in Europe from the Renaissance to the Revolution, but also in the political and cultural history of other regions and other times insofar as the emergence of the nation-state is clearly one of the main themes of global history in the last half millennium.

For much of my career I have explored  various ramifications of political centralization, which I analyzed in the most sustained fashion in my first book, Public Life in Toulouse1463-1789; and which I subsequently examined in relationship to forms of public display in The Ceremonial City. My third book, Dignified Retreat: Writers and Intellectuals in the Age of Richelieu, looks at the  intersection of the world of letters and the political culture of this crucial period of state-formation in French history. My most recent book, The Return of Resentment: The Rise and Decline and Rise Again of a Political Emotion, is a radical departure from my previous work, in which I explore concept of "resentment" as deployed as an analytical tool for understanding various, mostly right-wing movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My current book-in-progress continues on this path beyond my original focus on the Early Modern period. Tentatively titled “The Struggle for Dignity: Recognizing Human Dignity in Modern Times,” it aims to clarify how we have gone from understanding dignity as a value implying hierarchy and distinction to a universal ascription for all of humanity. 

My teaching largely reflects my long-standing interests, as well as a desire to convey to students some of the most exciting aspects of Early Modern European History—a field that has attracted some of the best and most imaginative historians of our time. I routinely offer courses on “Europe from the Renaissance to Napoleon," “Religion, Magic and Witchcraft,” “Culture and Society in Early Modern Europe,” "Introduction to Historical Methodology,” and "Intellectual Cultures of the Renaissance."  

From 2005 to 2015 I was Editor of the American Historical Review.

Honors and Awards

  • IU Trustees Teaching Award, 2023
  • Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship
  • Visiting Fellowship, Oxford University (All Souls College, 1996; Oriel College, 2015-16)
  • Visiting Lecturer, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris (1993, 2004, 2016)

Research Interests

  • Formation of centralized European state
  • Europe, Renaissance to the Revolution
  • Early Modern Cultural History
  • Intellectual history of "absolutism"
  • History of emotions


  • B.A. at Yale University
  • M.A. at Wesleyan University
  • Ph.D. at The University of Michigan

Courses Taught

  • Religion, Magic and Witchcraft, 1200-2000
  • Europe from the Renaissance to Napoleon
  • Civilization and Its Discontents
  • Introduction to the Professional Study of History
  • Intellectual Cultures of the Renaissance



Selected Articles

  • “The Rise and Fall of the Resentment Paradigm—circa 1935-1975,” Cultural Politics, (forthcoming in 2024).
  • "Gallicans Not Magistrates: The Dupuy Cabinet in the Age of Richelieu," in Barbara Diefendorf, ed. Social Relations, Politics and Power in Early Modern France: Robert Descimon and the Historian's Craft. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2016.
  • "Friends of Friends: Intellectual and Literary Sociability in the Age of Richelieu," in Lewis C. Seifert and Rebecca M. Wilkin, eds. Men and Women Making Friends in Early Modern France. London & New York: Routledge, 2015.
  • Literature and Power and the Emergence of Literature: Christian Jouhaud’s Age of Richelieu.French Historical Studies 25, no. 2 (2002): 357-80.
  • Self-Censorship and Men of Letters: Tocqueville’s Critique of the Enlightenment in Historical Perspective,” in Tocqueville and Beyond: Essays in the Old Regime in Honor of David D. Bien. Newark: The University of Delaware Press, 2001.