Ellen Widmer

Center Associate; Mayling Song Professor of Chinese Studies, Wellesley College

Ellen Widmer

Bio

Professor Ellen Widmer (魏愛蓮) 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.

Selected Publications

Books

  • Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China (2016)
  • The Beauty and the Book (2006)
  • The Margins of Utopia (1987)

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • Widmer, Ellen. “Gazetteers and the Talented Woman.” In Overt and Covert Treasures: Essays on the Sources for Chinese Women’s History, edited by Clara Wing-chung Ho, 261–78. The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2012.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “‘Media-Savvy’ Gentlewomen of the 1870s and Beyond.” In Gender and Chinese History: Transformative Encounters, edited by Beverly Bossler, 113–38. University of Washington Press, 2015.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Zhan Kai as Journalist.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:185–222. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Zhan Xi’s Life, Children, and Writings.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:54–91. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Literary Partners in Changing Times.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:18–53. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Zhan Kai, His Life and Courtesan Sketches.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:92–138. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. 
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Amplification and Conclusion.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:223–52. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Zhan Kai’s Novels.” In Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China, 1st ed., 99:139–84. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016.
  • Widmer, Ellen. “Women Writers in Early Modern China.” In A New Literary History of Modern China, edited by DAVID DER-WEI WANG, 103–8. Harvard University Press, 2017.

Media