Rena Lauer's research focuses on minority life on the borders of medieval Christendom. Engaging with postcolonial theory, historiography of Jews in the diaspora, and legal anthropology, Rena's dissertation is a social history of the Jews of Venetian Crete in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This study explores how the Jews of Crete's colonial capital, Candia (modern Iraklion), negotiated their position in society vis-a-vis the Venetian colonial administration, vis-a-vis their Latin and Greek neighbors, and how they negotiated internally as a corporate Jewish community.
A passionate and dedicated teacher, Rena has taught both at Harvard and at Miami University (Ohio). In Fall 2012, Rena served as one of Harvard's History Prize Instructors, and taught a seminar course of her own design entitled "Jewish History and the Question of Diaspora."