Wesleyan portrait of Allison  Bernard

Allison Bernard

Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies


BA Middlebury College
MA Columbia University
PHD Columbia University

Allison Bernard

Allison Bernard is a specialist in Ming-Qing Chinese literature, whose work focuses on drama, print and theatrical cultures, and intersections between literature and history. She is particularly interested in how theater is used as a mode of historiography — a development she charts in her in-progress book project on the uses of meta-theater in and around Kong Shangren’s Taohua shan (The Peach Blossom Fan). Kong’s work is especially significant for highlighting the role of the playwright, both as a dramatic character who enacts history on stage and as playwright-historian writing behind the scenes. By analyzing this understudied aspect of Kong’s canonical play, Allison’s work offers new insights into the literary history of the chuanqi genre; the varied relationships between performance practice, dramatic texts, and representations of music; and the life and oeuvre of the remarkable playwright Kong Shangren, a member of the Confucian Kong lineage and expert in music and ritual. 

In addition to her work on theater, performance, and literary history, Allison is also interested in questions about how media can shape the reading and writing of premodern Chinese literature. She is working on several smaller projects, including articles on early-mid Qing autobiographical playwrights and the concept of portraiture in “portrait-poetry” by Kong Shangren. Her next book project takes a media studies approach to 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. 

Other areas of particular interest include Japanese literature and theater, poetry, ritual studies, material and visual cultures, and translation.

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). Her research and writing have been supported by fellowships that include, most recently, a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship and Julie How Fellowship from Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. She has lived and studied in China, Taiwan, and Japan.

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Tuesday and Wednesday, 4:30-5:30pm (CEAS 209)


Fall 2019
CEAS 158F - 01
Literary Pop Culture (FYS)

CEAS 207 - 01
East Asian Cultures

CEAS 320 - 01
Literature and Media in China

Spring 2020
CEAS 243 - 01
Theater/Drama Traditions

CEAS 282 - 01
Place and Space/Hangzhou

CEAS 406 - 01
Senior Thesis Seminar