BA, Purdue University; MA, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Research Interests: History of East Asia; Early Modern History; History of Japan; History of Christianity; History of Baseball
Michael Laver’s research interests are diverse and wide-ranging, although to date he has published mainly in the field of early modern Japan. His first book, Japan’s Economy by Proxy, details Japanese trade with the wider early modern world as facilitated mainly by Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese merchants. His second book, The Sakoku Edicts and the Politics of Tokugawa Hegemony, argues that the several strictures the Tokugawa shogun put on trade with Japan, as well as on foreign influences in Japan, was primarily an attempt to bolster domestic power within the Japanese islands. His most recent book, The Dutch East India Company and Japan will be published by Bloomsbury Press in the autumn of 2019 and deals with the exotic gifts given to Japanese officials by the Dutch India Company and how those gifts were used by both the Japanese and the Dutch. Professor Laver has taught courses on modern and premodern Japan and China, modern East Asia, global Christianity, and baseball.
Professor Laver serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and is responsible for the curriculum, strategic planning, international education, and interdisciplinary programming. He has previously served as the chair of the Department of History as well as the program director of the International and Global Studies Program. He has also served in a number of other capacities at RIT, including as Chair of Academic Senate and as co-chair of the Middle States Re-accreditation Process.
Professor Laver earned his B.A. in History and Psychology at Purdue University and Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a Masters of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and serves as rector of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Sodus, New York in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.
In the News
May 25, 2023
Talking point: Japan's isolationist history
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's program "Talking Point" features Michael Laver, professor in the Department of History.
February 22, 2023
Lent is here – remind me what it’s all about? 5 essential reads
The Conversation highlights an essay by Michael Laver, professor in the Department of History, about the history of ashes in Christianity.
April 28, 2022
NSF awards RIT engineering, liberal arts faculty grant to integrate humanities into engineering education
Researchers at RIT and Texas Tech University will be incorporating more critical thinking and empathy skills into engineering curricula to prepare students to meet societal challenges today. The team, led by Iris Rivero, also includes Andrew Herbert and Michael Laver.