I am an assistant professor of history at UC Santa Cruz interested in the histories of science, technology, and globalization.

My research explores links between European and non-European societies in the early modern era (c. 1500-1800 CE), with an emphasis on the Portuguese and British empires and thematic interests in drugs, medicines, imperial rivalries, enslavement, and technological change.

I’m currently finishing a book on the early modern drug trade (working title: The Invention of Drugs). I’ve also started work on two new projects: a scholarly book manuscript about the blurred boundary between the concepts of technology and magic during the “global Enlightenment,” and a book aimed at popular audiences that retells the history of science through ten recipes (Sumerian beer, Roman cement, astronaut ice cream). I’ve published peer-reviewed journal articles on an eighteenth-century impostor and the role of animals in the colonial North American interior, and co-authored historiographic essays on Atlantic history and drugs and modernity.

I also enjoy writing for wider audiences and have contributed to The Paris Review DailyThe AtlanticSlate, Aeon, The Pacific StandardThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and Public Domain ReviewI maintain Res Obscura, a blog about early modern history, and was a co-founder of The Appendix, a journal of experimental and narrative history.

You can email me at bebreen {at} ucsc {dot} edu or find me on Twitter at @ResObscura.

Please feel free to access page proofs of my articles via the links below: 

Drugs and Early Modernity. Published in History Compass, Spring, 2017.

“The Elks Are Our Horses”: Animals and Domestication in the New France BorderlandsPublished in The Journal of Early American History, Winter, 2013.

No Man Is an Island: Early Modern Globalization, Knowledge Networks, and George Psalmanazar’s FormosaPublished in The Journal of Early Modern History, Fall, 2013.

Hybrid Atlantics: Future Directions for the History of the Atlantic World (with Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra)Published in History Compass, Summer, 2013.