By Andrea Lynn
One of the major honors living historians can receive has been bestowed on a UI emeritus professor of history.
Paul W. Schroeder, a historian of European international politics, was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, which is based in London.
The council of the society is empowered to elect as Corresponding Fellows "persons of distinction in historical studies outside the United Kingdom."
Among the eight other previously elected Corresponding Fellows from the United States are Daniel Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress, William McNeill, former president of the American Historical Association, and C. Vann Woodward, renowned historian of the American South.
According to James Barrett, chair of the UI department of history, Schroeder is "one of the most distinguished scholars of European diplomatic history in the world," and his publications four major books and more than 50 articles "have helped to transform our understanding of European politics." Over the course of his career, Schroeder has worked extensively on the era from the 18th century to the present, dealing with American, Austrian, British, French, German, Japanese and Russian foreign policies.
Schroeder's first book, "The Axis Alliance and Japanese-American Relations, 1941" (1968), won the AHA Albert J. Beveridge Prize; his next book, "Metternich's Diplomacy at Its Zenith, 1820-1823" (1962), won the Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Prize from the University of Texas, in honor of its famous historian and former president of the AHA. His third book, "Austria, Great Britain, and the Crimean War: The Destruction of the European Concert" (1972), was described as the most important American contribution to European diplomatic history of its decade.
Shroeder's most recent book, "The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848" (1994), "appears to be his most important work yet," Barrett said.
In that book, an analysis of European international politics during the often bloody years between the Seven Years' War in 1763 and the eve of the 1848 revolutions, Schroeder concludes that "international politics is not an essentially unchanging cyclical power struggle, but rather, a quest for a viable principle of international order not primarily for idealistic motives, but for practical reasons of survival and security."
Nearly 900 pages in length, "The Transformation" was a History Book Club Selection.
Charles Stewart, former chair of the UI history department, has said of Schroeder, "His cogent and penetrating reinterpretations of the problems inherent in the conduct of foreign relations have won him such a following that scholars now speak of a 'Schroeder School' of historical interpretation."
Schroeder has won senior fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. He has been a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Merton College, Oxford; and the United States Institute of Peace. He was named a Senior University Scholar at Illinois in 1989, and a Jubilee Professor of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1992.
Schroeder's most recent project is organizing an international conference to be held Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the UI Allerton Conference Center in Monticello, IL. Leading international historians and political scientists from Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States will apply the general theme, "The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848: Episode or Model?" to the whole era of modern European and world international politics from the early 17th century to the present, Schroeder said.
Schroeder earned his doctorate at the University of Texas in 1958. He joined the UI history department in 1963, and he became emeritus professor in May of this year.