Historian of American Politics, Religion, & Law
Dr. Michael Breidenbach is Visiting Research Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a 2019-2020 Research Associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and Assistant Professor of History at Ave Maria University (on academic leave). He obtained his Ph.D. in History from King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholar. He was a visiting graduate student in History at the Sorbonne in Paris and earned a master’s degree with distinction in Political Thought and Intellectual History at Cambridge. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with departmental honors from Northwestern University with a B.A. in History and American Studies.
Dr. Breidenbach's research interests concern the history of political, legal, and religious thought, especially in early America and the Atlantic World. He has particular interests in religious liberty, church and state, and the relationship between religion and politics. He is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the First Amendment and Religious Liberty, and his recent work has been published in William and Mary Quarterly, Perspectives on Political Science, The Things that Matter: Essays Inspired by the Later Work of Jacques Maritain, and Disestablishment and Religious Dissent: Church-State Relations in the New American States, 1776-1833.
His current book project is entitled, How Catholics Became American, an intellectual history of religious liberty and church-state relations in early America and the Atlantic World. He is also working on a second book concerning the politics of names in early America. His other research interests include constitutional law and interpretation, human rights, secularization, immigration, republicanism, liberalism, medieval political thought, Catholic Enlightenment, the papacy, and Vatican II.
He has been awarded visiting fellowships and scholarships at St. John's College, Oxford, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford, and Wolfson College, Cambridge, and has presented his research at Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, London, Trinity College Dublin, Notre Dame, George Washington, Villanova Law School, and Arizona State. He has also written for The Atlantic, Washington Post, First Things, Philanthropy, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Professor Breidenbach's teaching spans American history and the history of political, legal, and religious thought. Prior to Ave Maria University, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the James Madison Program and a Lecturer at Princeton University, where he taught history and politics. He has conducted research for the White House and has been awarded international grants for research in China and across Europe.
He lives in beautiful Southwest Florida with his wife, Janice Chik Breidenbach, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, and their son. They were married in 2013 at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, England.