Research Interests: gender in Chinese literature, comparative East Asian literatures, Chinese fiction, family history, and media ecology in late Qing-China
Professor Ellen Widmer studies traditional Chinese fiction, history of Chinese women's writing, history of the book in China, and missionaries to East Asia. Trained in the history of traditional Chinese fiction, Professor Widmer has worked hard to bring women into the picture of Chinese literature. As she says, “There were not many women who wrote fiction, but many consumed it as readers and wrote about it in their poetry. The great eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber takes writing women as its subject and so blends these two streams of my work in another way.” Professor Widmer also researches the history of the Chinese book and individual bookshops, as well as the outreach of colleges like Wellesley and Wesleyan University in Middleton, Connecticut to Christian colleges in China, Japan, and Korea.
She is the department chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Wellesley College.