Dr. Rena Lauer (PhD, Harvard, 2014) studies cross-cultural contacts as well as minority and marginal communities in the late medieval eastern Mediterranean, often through the frameworks of law, religion, and gender. She is the author of Colonial Justice and the Jews of Venetian Crete (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). This monograph is a social and legal history of the Jews of Venetian Crete in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, particularly as seen through the lens of intra-Jewish litigation in the Venetian secular courtroom. Related articles have been published in Mediterranean Historical Review, Critical Analysis of Law, and Gender & History and in edited collections.
Dr. Lauer spearheads the Jewish Women's Wills project, which collects all wills and will-like documents written for Jewish women before 1600 CE. The test site can be accessed at www.jewishwomenswills.org.
Dr. Lauer is currently working on "After Slavery: Strategies of Freedom in the Late Medieval Eastern Mediterranean" a study of freed slaves, their search for social integration and networks, and their use of legal institutions in Venetian Crete and other eastern Mediterranean islands. A related article will soon appear in the inaugural issue of Medieval People (formerly Medieval Prosopography). She is also undertaking a translation and edition of Taqqanot Qandiya, the Hebrew community ordinances from Venetian Crete. Her research has received a number of awards, including from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society, and she has been invited to present her work both in the United States and internationally. A passionate and dedicated teacher, Dr. Lauer taught both at Harvard and at Miami University (Ohio) before joining the OSU faculty. At OSU, she teaches courses in medieval and early modern history, world history, religion and law, and Jewish studies.