Wesleyan portrait of Allison  Bernard

Allison Bernard

Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies

Mansfield Freeman Center,


BA Middlebury College
MA Columbia University
PHD Columbia University

Allison Bernard

Allison Bernard is a scholar of Chinese literature and culture whose research focuses on Ming-Qing drama, print and theatrical cultures, and intersections between literature and history. She is working on a book manuscript that examines the uses of metatheatre in and around Kong Shangren’s historical drama, Taohua shan (The Peach Blossom Fan). This project reveals the significance of theatrical media and performance practices for framing the political and historical valences of 17th century dramas, and demonstrates how The Peach Blossom Fan’s uses of metatheatre serve as an innovative form of historiography. Kong’s desktop drama applies theatrical media and performance conventions to model the process of “making history,” using plays within plays and references to characters’ costumes and facial makeup to highlight links between political rhetoric and stage performance. In examining the interplay of theatrical media and historiography, this project also pays special attention to Ruan Dacheng—a blacklisted mid-17th century politician and playwright, who appears on stage in The Peach Blossom Fan as a dramatic character. Re-examining the work and historical figure of Ruan Dacheng—both as a “playwright on stage” in The Peach Blossom Fan and as a dramatist in his own right—exposes further links between stage and society, and shows how writerly legacy contributes to the work of “making history” through theater. 

In addition to her work on theater and performance, Allison is interested in questions about how media shapes the reading and writing of early modern Chinese literature. Her next book project takes a media studies approach to analyzing a range of Ming-Qing literary forms, from vernacular fiction to song and essay anthologies, drawing on the concept of the feedback loop to examine the social processes of literary production and reception. She is also working on several smaller projects, including articles on early-mid Qing autobiographical playwrights Liao Yan and Xu Xi, the concept of portraiture in “portrait-poetry” by Kong Shangren, and the emperor’s role type in early modern Chinese dramas. Allison is also interested in comparisons with Japanese literature (especially drama, theater, and poetry), book history and print culture, material and visual cultures, and translation. Allison is an active translator who translates literary and scholarly materials from Chinese to English. 

Allison received her PhD in Chinese Literature from Columbia University’s Department of East Asian Literature and Culture in 2019. She also holds an MA in Chinese Literature from Columbia University (2012) and BA from Middlebury College in Chinese and History (2010). Allison taught in the College of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University from 2019-2020. Before returning to Wesleyan in 2022, she spent two years at Yale University as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Council on East Asian Studies. 

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Spring 2024: By appointment via Zoom -- Thursdays, 3:00-5:00pm and Fridays, 12:00-2:00pm. 


Spring 2024
CEAS 243 - 01
Chinese Theater and Drama