Trained in the history of traditional Chinese fiction, Professor Widmer has worked hard to bring women into the picture. There were not many women who wrote fiction, but many consumed it as readers and wrote about it in their poetry. The great 18th-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber is of great interest as it takes writing women as its subject and so blends these two streams of her work. The history of the Chinese book is another area of specialization. Professor Widmer's several studies of individual bookshops emerge from this interest. She has also written on the outreach of colleges like Wellesley and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., to Christian colleges in China, Japan, and Korea.
Her teaching centers on the history of Chinese fiction and drama. Comparisons between Chinese and Japanese fiction are another teaching interest, as is Korean-American literature. Professor Widmer is devising ways to bring a third interest of hers, educational interchanges between American colleges and colleges in East Asia, into the realm of her teaching. Another plan for the future is to teach the history of China's women writers. Finally, she is working with colleagues to devise core courses for the major.