Michael Laver Headshot

Michael Laver


Department of History
College of Liberal Arts

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Michael Laver


Department of History
College of Liberal Arts


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.  


Personal Links
Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

Full Length Book
Laver, Michael. The Dutch East India Company in Early Modern Japan: Gift Giving and Diplomacy. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Press, 2020. Print.
Laver, Michael. The Sakoku Edicts and the Politics of Tokugawa Hegemony. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2011. Print.
Laver, Michael. Japan’s Economy by Proxy in the Seventeenth Century: China, The Netherlands, and the Bakufu. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2008. Print.
Journal Paper
Laver, Michael. "Seeing History in New Ways: Woodblock Prints and the Historical Imagination." World History Connected. October (2018): N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. "Most Exquisite Curiosities of Nature and Art: The Dutch East India Company, Objets d’Art and Gift Giving in Early Modern Japan." World History Connected 10:2. June, 2013 (2013): N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. "Butter Diplomacy: Food and Drink as a Social Lubricant in Dutch East India Company Trade with Japan." Education About Asia. Spring (2012): 5-8. Print.
Laver, Michael. "Skins in the Game: The Dutch East India Company, Deerskins, and the Japan Trade." World History Bulletin 28:2. Fall (2012): 13-16. Print.
Published Review
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Government by Mourning: Death and Political Integration in Japan, 1603-1912, by Atsuko Hirai. The Journal of Japanese Studies Dec. 2018: 195-199. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China: A Short History with Documents, by R. Po-chia Hsia. Education About Asia Sep. 2017: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Pioneers to Partners: The Reformed Church in America and Christian Mission with the Japanese, by Gordon Laman. Itinerario 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Books and boats: Sino-Japanese Relations in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Osama Oba (translated by Joshua Fogel). The Journal of Asian Studies 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity, by Robert Wilkin. Canadian Journal of History 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Coins, Trade, and the State: Economic Growth in Early Medieval Japan, by Ethan Segal. Journal of World History Dec. 2012: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The Limits of Empire: European Imperial Formations in Early Modern World History. Essays in Honor of Geoffrey Parker, ed. Tonio Andrade and William Reger. World History Connected 2012: N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The Traveler’s World: Europe to the Pacific, by Harry Liebersohn. Canadian Journal of History 2011: N/A. Print.
Invited Article/Publication
Laver, Michael. "Introduction: The Sea in World History." World History Bulletin. (2016). Web.
Book Chapter
Laver, Michael. "Neither Here nor There: Trade, Piracy, and the ‘Space Between’ in Early Modern East Asia”." Sea Rovers, Silk, and Samurai: Maritime East Asia in World History 1500-1750. Ed. Tonio Andrade and Xing Hang. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai\'i PRess, 2016. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "A Whole New World Order." Japan Emerges: Introductory Essays on Premodern History. Ed. Karl Friday. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "Diplomacy, Piracy, and the Space Between." Japan Emerges: Introductory Essays on Premodern History. Ed. Karl Friday. Boulder, C: Westview Press, 2012. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "VThe Trade Federation, the East India Companies, and Chaotic Worlds of Trade." Star Wars and History. Ed. Nancy Reagin and Janice Liedl. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2012. N/A. Print.
Formal Presentation
Laver, Michael. “Through a Glass Darkly: Christianity and the Politics of Control in Tokugawa Japan.” Sustainable Asia: Challenges and Opportunities. 38th Annual Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies Conference. State College, PA. 23 Oct. 2010. Presentation.
Laver, Michael. “Gift-giving and the Politics of Legitimacy in Tokugawa Japan.” 59th Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs. Columbus, OH. 30 Oct. 2010. Presentation.

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
This course will cover the military, diplomatic, political, social, and cultural history of World War II. It will focus on the causes of the war, the battles that decided the war, the leaders (civilian and military) who made the key decisions, and how the war changed society. The purpose of the course is to acquaint students with the political, social, economic, military, and cultural history of WWII and that conflict's impact upon our own era.
3 Credits
Within the past three decades, planetary computerization, burgeoning media industries, and other global processes have significantly altered the ways in which we experience our local and global worlds. Global reconfigurations of time and space change our consciousness, sense of self and others, and the material realities in which we live and work. This course provides the conceptual tools to assess emerging global processes, interactions and flows of people, ideas and things that challenge historical patterns of international studies and relations. The course will introduce you to international and global processes in areas such as global cultural economies, global cities, new forms of democracy and civil society, global religions, sexualities, health, and environments, increased competition for resources, political conflict, war and terrorism. Beyond understanding the causes and consequences of global change, this course will introduce you to ethical dilemmas in global justice movements, and in transferring ideas and technologies in new global contexts.
1 Credits
From artificial intelligence to gender and racial equity to international sanctions, the decisions we make and the actions we take are suffused with ethical dimensions. This seminar involves lively discussion and careful analysis of contemporary issues. Particular topics will change from one semester to the next, but each version of this course will apply ethical frameworks to conceiving, discussing, and striving toward the resolution of nuanced problems.
1 Credits
We live in a connected world and our worldviews affect us at multiple scales, from individual standards of morality to law and economics to interactions among nations. Students in this seminar will use interdisciplinary knowledge to engage with complex global issues and events from multiple viewpoints. The particular topics may change from one semester to the next, but each offering will examine some aspect of human thought, behavior, or culture that varies across the globe, whether at individual, cultural, or national scale. Students will be expected to participate in lively discussions, and through mentored contrast and comparison, broaden their understanding of who we are, and who we can be.
3 Credits
The Senior Thesis in Museum Studies is the final requirement in the degree program. Students will conduct the appropriate research to address the topic they had proposed in Research Methods. They will present their results as a formal written thesis and in an appropriate public forum. The course provides students the opportunity to develop their research and practical skills and to share the results with the department and the college.
3 Credits
This course will develop students' ability in perceiving worth in objects of art through consideration of fundamental concepts in painting, sculpture and architecture, involving analysis, interpretation and principles of aesthetics.

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