Benjamin Breen

The History Department is delighted to welcome Assistant Professor Benjamin Breen to our program.

November 06, 2017

The History Department is delighted to welcome Assistant Professor Benjamin Breen to our program. Professor Breen studies early modern world history, focusing on histories of the Portuguese, Spanish, and British empires. His research also engages the history of science, medicine, and magic.

Breen earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. His dissertation, “Tropical Transplantations: Drugs, Nature, and Globalization in the Portuguese and British Empires, 1640-1755,” was supported by fellowships from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. While in Austin, he published peer-reviewed articles in The Journal of Early Modern History and The Journal of Early American History and contributed to The Atlantic and The Paris Review Daily. He spent the 2011-12 academic year in Portugal on a Fulbright fellowship. Most recently, Breen was a postdoctoral fellow with the Society of Fellows at Columbia University, where he taught classes on classic historical texts and the history of poisons.

Breen has pursued his interest in the digital humanities as editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Appendix: a Journal of Narrative and Experimental History, an online quarterly that experiments with digital methods in historical writing. He is also the founder and editor of the early modern history blog Res Obscura, where he has authored over eighty posts.

Currently Breen is finishing a book on the early modern drug trade and preparing to write his next book investigating the blurred boundary between the concepts of technology and magic in the eighteenth century. He will be teaching "Modern European History" and the "History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Antiquity to the Enlightenment” this winter, followed by "The World Since 1500" and "Tropics of Empire" in the spring. Breen cites a series of inspirational teachers throughout high school and college for influencing his pursuit of a career in academia. He is particularly passionate about teaching and researching history because of the vastness of the field. As he puts it, "anything that was said, done, or thought in the past is fair game for the historian.”