Dr. Rena Lauer (PhD, Harvard, 2014) is a social and legal historian who studies cross-cultural contacts as well as minority and marginal communities in the late medieval eastern Mediterranean. She is the author of Colonial Justice and the Jews of Venetian Crete (2019, University of Pennsylvania Press). 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 is currently working on a number of new research projects. "Life after Manumission" is a study of freed slaves, their strategies of social integration, their networks, and their use of legal institutions in the late medieval eastern Mediterranean. She is also undertaking a translation and edition of Taqqanot Qandiya, Hebrew community ordinances from Venetian Crete. Her "big data" website which collects wills (testaments) of premodern Jewish women will soon be online at Jewishwomenswills.org.
Dr. Lauer’s 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, and Jewish studies.