Bethany Wiggin received her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her interests lie in the intersections between the early modern period and contemporary theoretical concerns including gender and postcolonial studies. While grounded in the cultural and political landscape of central Europe, her work increasingly charts global trajectories.
Her first book—entitled Novel Translations: The European Novel and the German Book, 1680-1730 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 2011)—explores the new worlds opened to the imagination when reading first became a form of entertainment. This long process first blossomed with the creation of a transnational (French, English, and German) novel in the decades around 1700, a popular genre born of a boom in literary commerce.
Her second book—Germanopolis: Postcolonial Figures in Colonial Atlantic History, 1683-1763 (College Park, PA: Penn State UP, forthcoming in 2013)—investigates competing accounts of colonial Pennsylvania's past and future. The colony's legacy became a contest of pacifists versus imperialists, "sectarians" (Quakers, Mennonites, and seemingly countless others) versus "Churchmen" (Anglicans and Presbyterians, Lutherans and Calvinists), sometimes between English and German, and, more ominously, between "red" and "white," and between slavery's critics and its apologists.
Other recent publications include “World Literature and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Amsterdam, Leipzig, 1701,” forthcoming this spring in Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies; "Globalization and the Work of Fashion" in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies; several articles on eighteenth-century German American colonials; articles on the emergence of consumer culture in Europe, the invention of fashion, German coffee consumption, and poet Andreas Gryphius.
Among her current projects:
- with Professor MacLeod and Ph.D. Candidates Daniel DiMassa and Nicholas Theis, the edited volume on Un/Translatables: New Maps across Germanic Literatures
- the international conference (in December 2012), "Envisioning the 'Old World'"
- research project on World Literatures Before Goethe
Recent courses and seminars include graduate seminars on "Early Modern Cultural Translation," "Theory and Practice of the Novel," "Foreign Exchanges, Germany and the East," "Writing Amerika," and "Baroque Models of Authority." For first-year graduate students, she also regularly teaches the proseminar "German Literature to the Eighteenth Century." She has taught undergraduate classes on German Orientalisms, Present Pasts, and "Censored!" She regularly directs independent projects and supervises guided readings.
In the spring semester 2013, Prof. Wiggin teaches a Bejamin Franklin Honors seminar (in English) on utopianism and sustainability. The course is cross-listed with Environmental Studies; Science, Society, and Technology; English; and Comparative Literature. She also directs the undergraduate German majors' thesis writing seminar.