Europe and the Mediterranean World

The Europe and the Mediterranean World concentration offers students the opportunity to explore the histories of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and connections between these places and the larger world. We look at the continual flow of ideas, people, and material goods across this region, from the earliest states in the ancient world until today. We examine how empires, colonialism, religion, culture, the environment, and social and economic forces, including the development of capitalism and of the nation-state, shaped these interactions in profound ways. Collectively, we trace over 5000 years of intersecting histories, examining linkages and conflicts forged by geography, trade, war, migration, imperial aspirations, colonial violence, religious and ethnic minorities, and struggles for liberation.

The caucus includes intensive study of the histories of Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as imperial, colonial, and transnational histories that trace the changing relations among these places. Major periods and areas of focus include the ancient and medieval worlds, oceanic empires in the early modern period (1450-1800), modern imperialism and colonialism, and decolonization and postcolonial states in the twentieth century.


Major Requirements

The history major requires a minimum of 12 unique courses. At least eight of the 12 required courses must be upper-division (HIS 100-199). A maximum of four courses, including the introductory survey course, may be lower-division (HIS 1-99).

Region of Concentration: Europe and the Mediterranean World (6 courses)

I. One lower-division introductory survey course:

  • HIS 41, The Making of the Modern Middle East
  • HIS 65A, Medieval Europe: 200-1000
  • HIS 70A, Modern European History, 1500-1815
  • HIS 70B, Modern European History, 1815-Present

All of the above courses satisfy the Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC) general education requirement.

II. Four additional Europe and the Mediterranean World courses, three of which must be upper-division

III. One Europe and the Mediterranean World exit seminar: HIS 190-series, HIS 194-series, or HIS 196-series

Historical Skills and Methods (1 course)

IV. HIS 100, Historical Skills and Methods

HIS 100 introduce history majors to historical methods and provides preparation for advanced historical research. Students develop critical reading, historical analysis, research, and disciplinary writing skills. HIS 100 also satisfies the Textual Analysis and Interpretation (TA) general education requirement.

Students who enter UCSC as frosh are expected to complete HIS 100 by the end of their second year. Transfer students are expected to complete HIS 100 no later than their second term at UCSC.

Catalog of Course Requirements

The History Catalog of Course Requirements indicates what region(s) of concentration and what chronological distribution requirement(s) individual history courses may apply toward.

Breadth Requirements (4 courses)

V. Two courses from each of the remaining two regions of concentration:

Upper-Division Elective (1 course)

One additional upper-division history course of your choice from any of the three regions of concentration

Distribution Requirements

Of the 12 courses required for the major, at least three must meet chronological distribution requirements. One must be set before 600 A.D., and two must be set in periods prior to the year 1800 A.D.

Intensive Major Option

The intensive history major offers students a pathway to enrich their study of history, refine their skills in writing and research, and receive a designation on their transcripts that signals their ambition and accomplishment to potential employers and graduate schools. All history majors are eligible to declare the intensive track, including junior transfers. If a student attempts but does not complete the intensive track they may still graduate with a standard history degree, provided the appropriate major coursework has been completed.

Benjamin Breen
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Phone
    512-804-6165
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Stevenson College Academic Building, 279
  • Office Hours Winter 2020: Wednesday, 3:00 to 4:30 pm
  • Mail Stop History Department
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise History of Science, Colonialism, Digital Humanities, Drug Policy, World History
  • Courses HIS 2A (Spring, 2018); HIS 177A (Spring, 2018)

Research Interests

Early modern world history, particularly the history of the tropics; early modern globalization and the slave trade; Spanish and Portuguese empires; history of drugs and poisons; early modern science, medicine, and technology; magic in a cross-cultural context.

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, May 2015.

Honors, Awards and Grants

Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Fellowship, Columbia University 2015-2016
Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography, 2014-16
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2014-15
Dissertation Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2013-14
Fulbright fellowship to Portugal, 2011-2012

Selected Publications

“Semedo’s Sixteen Secrets: Tracing Pharmacological Networks in the Portuguese Tropics,” in Paula Findlen, ed. Empires of Knowledge: Scientific Networks in the Early Modern World (Routledge, 2018).

“Empires on Drugs: Materia Medica and the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance,” in Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, ed. Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

“Drugs and Early Modernity,” History Compass, Vol. 15, No. 4 (April, 2017). 

“No Man Is an Island: Early Modern Globalization, Knowledge Networks, and George Psalmanazar’s Formosa,” The Journal of Early Modern History, 17/4 (August, 2013), 391-417.

“Hybrid Atlantics: Future Directions for the History of the Atlantic World,” History Compass, 18/8 (August, 2013), 597-609.

"'The Elks Are Our Horses’: Animals and Domestication in the New French Borderlands,” Journal of Early American History, No. 3 (December, 2013), 188-205  

“Portugal, Early Modern Globalization and the Origins of the Global Drug Trade,” Perspectives on Europe, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2012), 84-88.

Selected popular writing:

“Palm Trees and Potions: On Portuguese Pharmacy Signs,” The Recipes Project, July, 2016.

"Into the Mystic," Aeon Magazine, 2015.

“Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia,” in The Public Domain Review, 2014.

"The King of the Islands of Refreshment" in The Appendix, 2014.

"The Literature of Laughing Gas," in The Paris Review, 2014.

"The Pre-Modern History of Outer Space," in The Atlantic, 2013.

 

Teaching Interests

- Early modern science, medicine, and technology
- History of the Iberian peninsula and of the Spanish and Portuguese empires
- History of drugs and poisons
- Travel writing of the 17th and 18th centuries
- History of magic