Leslie Peirce's writing and teaching focus on the Ottoman empire, with an emphasis on the early modern period. One thread that runs through her work is the ways in which women and men participate and interact in various contexts. Her first book explored the shifting nature of imperial politics by placing the palace harem at the center of inquiry. Likewise her second book, which examines aspects of law and society in a provincial court by exploring women, utilization of the court (or avoidance of and inability to approach it) and what that can tell us about community as well as imperial dynamics. Other topics Peirce has written about include honor and sexuality, provincial politics, abduction and captivity, and slavery and household formation. She is currently writing a biography of Hurrem the concubine and then wife to Suleyman I the magnificent.