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).
In addition to her work on theater and performance, Allison is interested in questions about how media shapes the reading and writing of premodern 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 and the concept of portraiture in “portrait-poetry” by Kong Shangren.
Other areas of 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 Languages and Cultures 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. Before coming to Yale, Allison taught in the College of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University.
EAST 401, EALL 321, THST 367
Theater and Drama Traditions of China and Japan
This seminar offers a window into Chinese and Japanese drama and theater traditions from their beginnings to the 20th century. We engage issues of dramatic texts as well as performance practices; thus, the course draws on material from theater history, performance and acting conventions, and the literary history of drama. Readings and discussions span major genres of dramatic writing and their different modes of performance, including the Chinese dramatic genres of zaju and chuanqi; Chinese performance styles of Beijing opera and Kunqu; and Japanese dramatic genres and performance practices of noh, kyogen, kabuki, and puppet theater. Throughout the course, we engage closely with dramatic texts as literature, giving detailed thematic readings to some canonical and non-canonical plays. We also consider how dramatic writing and theatrical performance relate to broader trends in sociopolitical history and literary history, exploring how dramatic texts and theatrical performance embody a multivalent and multisensory space that is unique among creative enterprises. We deal with both the actor and the text, and consider how each are conditioned by modern and premodern contexts.