Brian Bernards

Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature
Brian Bernards
Email Office THH 356P Office Phone (213) 740-3706

Research & Practice Areas

Southeast Asian literature and cinema (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan), Sinophone studies, postcolonial studies, inter-Asia cultural studies


  • Ph.D. Asian Languages & Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, 2011
  • M.A. , Columbia University, 2005
  • B.A. , University of Washington, 2002
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My research is inspired by larger questions about intercultural contacts and translingual exchanges within Asia, particularly between East and Southeast Asia, as well as between Sinophone and non-Sinophone communities in those regions. I explore issues of multiculturalism, creolization, and postcoloniality beyond East-West configurations that have dominated and defined discussions of these issues in comparative cultural studies, at times inadvertently flattening the internal diversity and uneven power dynamics within the various sites that collectively constitute the “East.” I am most interested in how authors and filmmakers wrestle with the dominant discourses and master narratives that claim to speak for their subjectivities and cultures, particularly by creatively replicating their experiences of travel, migration, minoritization, and creolization within and between East, South, and Southeast Asia.

    Research Keywords

    Southeast Asian literature and film, Sinophone studies, postcolonial studies, inter-Asia cultural studies, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship, (SSRC InterAsia Program), Brian Bernards, $30,000, 02/2016 – 07/2017
    • Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach, (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar), Brian Bernards, Duncan Williams and Velina Hasu Houston, $175,000, 2013-2014

    USC Funding

    • Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences (ASHSS) Research Grant. Inter-Asian Cinema: Migrant Labor, Popular Culture, Tourism: Second book project research and writing., $25000, Spring 2021
    • Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant. Writing the South Seas: First book completion subvention., $18680, 2014-2015
  • Book

    • Bernards, B. (2015). Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
    • Bernards, Brian, Shu-mei Shih, and Chien-hsin Tsai (Ed.). (2013). Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Bernards, B. (2016). Malaysia As Method: Xiao Hei and Ethnolinguistic Literary Taxonomy. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures pp. 811-831. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford UP
    • Bernards, B. (2013). “Plantation and Rainforest: Chang Kuei-hsing and a South Seas Discourse of Coloniality and Nature”. Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader pp. 325-338. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Journal Article

    • Bernards, B. (2021). Sinophonic Detours in Colonial Burma: Ai Wu’s Transborder Counterpoetics of Trespass. Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature. Vol. 18 (2), pp. 457-478.
    • Bernards, B. (2021). Sinophone Meets Siamophone: Audio-Visual Intersubjectivity and Pirated Ethnicity in Midi Z’s Poor Folk and The Road to Mandalay. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. Vol. 22 (3), pp. 1-21.
    • Bernards, B. (2019). Mockumenting Migrant Workers: The Inter-Asian Hinterland of Eric Khoo’s No Day Off and My Magic. positions: asia critique. Vol. 27 (2), pp. 297-332.
    • Bernards, B. (2017). Reanimating Creolization through Pop Culture: Yasmin Ahmad’s Inter-Asian Audio-Visual Integration. Asian Cinema. Vol. 28 (1), pp. 55-71.
    • Bernards, B. (2014). From Diasporic Nationalism to Transcolonial Consciousness: Lao She’s Singaporean Satire, Little Po’s Birthday. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. Vol. 26 (1), pp. 1-40.
    • Bernards, B. (2013). “Shuangxiang de hunzaxing: lun lengzhan shiqi Tai Hua xiaoshuo zhong de ‘Taihua'” [Bidirectional Hybridity: “Thaification” in Cold War-Era Sinophone Thai Fiction]. Zhongshan renwen xuebao [Sun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities]. Vol. 35, pp. 127-141.
    • Bernards, B. (2013). “Beyond Diaspora and Multiculturalism: Recuperating Creolization in Postcolonial Sinophone Malaysian Literature”. Postcolonial Studies. Vol. 15 (3), pp. 311-329.
    • GESM 120: Thai Literature & Popular Culture, General Education Seminar in the Humanities, 2020 –
    • COLT 512: Literary & Cinematic Translingualism & Translation, Comparative Literature, 2019 –
    • EALC/COLT 255: Southeast Asian Literature and Film, EALC & COLT, 2018 –
    • EALC 553: Seminar: Chinese Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, 2015 –
    • EALC 530: Race, Ethnicity, and Multiculturalism in East Asia, East Asian Languages and Cultures, 2013 –
    • EALC 150: Global Chinese Cinema and Cultural Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, 2012 –
    • EALC 358: Transnational Chinese Literature and Culture, East Asian Languages and Cultures, 2012 –
    • EASC 160: China & the World, East Asian Asian Studies Center, 2019 – 2020
    • USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, , 2015-2016
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, USC Dornsife General Education Teaching Award, Fall 2014
  • Administrative Appointments

    • EALC Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2019 –