Michael Berry

Director, East Asia Center; Director of Graduate Studies
Area: Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies

Ph.D., Columbia University

Office: HSSB 2230
Office Hours: F15: M, 1:00-3:00 PM and by appointment

Email Address

Michael Berry’s areas of research include modern and contemporary Chinese literature, Chinese cinema, popular culture in modern China, and translation studies. Berry’s approach is transnational and his work addresses the richness and diversity of Chinese art and culture as it has manifested itself in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas Chinese communities. He also holds affiliate appointments with Comparative LiteratureFilm and Media Studies, and Asian American Studies.

Michael Berry is the author of A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film,which explores literary and cinematic representations of atrocity in twentieth century China, Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers a collection of dialogues with contemporary Chinese filmmakers including Hou Hsiao-hsien, Zhang Yimou, Stanley Kwan, and Jia Zhangke, and the monograph, Jia Zhang-ke’s Hometown Trilogywhich offers extended analysis of the films Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures. His most recent book is is full-length interview with the award-winning film director Hou Hsiao-hsien entitled Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Memories of Shadows and Light(in Chinese). (Taipei, INK, 2014). Berry is currently completing a monograph that explores the United States as it has been imagined through Chinese film, literature, and popular culture, 1949-present.

Also an active literary translator, Berry has translated several important contemporary Chinese novels by Yu HuaYe Zhaoyanand Chang Ta-chun. His co-translation with Susan Chan Egan of Wang Anyi’s Song of Everlasting Sorrow was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2009 MLA Lois Roth Award for an outstanding translation of a literary work Current literary translation projects include the modern martial arts novel The Last Swallow of Autumn (Xia yin) and Wu He’s (Dancing Crane) award winning novel Remains of Life (Yu sheng), a fascinating literary exploration of the 1930 Musha Incident, which was honored with a 2008 NEA Translation Grant.

In addition to his academic writing, Berry extends the scope of his work through various media consultant positions, popular writings and jury service. He has frequently been featured in various mainstream media outlets in the US and China, including NPR, the New York Times, the China Daily, and The People’s Daily. He is a contributor to the ChinaFile and his popular essays in Chinese have been published in the weekly Friday supplement of The Beijing News. He has served as a jury member for the Golden Horse Film Festival, Fresh Wave Film Festival, and the Dream of the Red Chamber Literary Award.

His work has received generous support from a variety of organizations, including the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, The Weatherhead Foundation, the China Times Cultural Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Douban Website: 白睿文 在豆瓣的小站

Weibo Website: 白睿文 在微博

Media Appearances:

On Point with Tom Ashbrook: China Rising in Movies and Entertainment  

Future Tense with Antony Funnell: Soft Power with Chinese characteristics

Wall Street Journal: American Shows are Hot in China

Wall Street Journal: House of Cards Breaks Barriers in China

CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Michael Berry

CRI English Radio: The Chinese Film Industry


Book Length Translations:

Edited Books:

  • Divided Lenses: Screen Memories of War in East Asia Edited by Michael Berry and Chiho Sawada. University of Hawaii Press, 2016.
  • Modernism Revisited: Pai Hsien-yung and the Taiwan Literary Modernism Movement. (In Chinese) Edited by Michael Berry and Chien-hsin-tsai. Rye Field, 2015.

Selected Articles, Reviews & Entries


  • “Taiwan Fiction in the Post-Martial Law Era” in the Columbia Companion of Modern Chinese Literature. Columbia University Press, forthcoming, 2015.
  •  “1939, October 15 Nanjing: Ah Long’s Lost Fictional Account of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre” and April 1985: Of Roots and Earth in Harvard New Literary History of Modern China, Harvard University Press, forthcoming, 2016.
  • “Shooting the Enemy” and “Divided Lenses: Introduction” in Divided Lenses: Film and War Memory in East Asia University of Hawaii Press, forthcoming, 2016.
  • “A Cultural Renaissance from the Ashes: Kenneth Pai on the Origins of Modern Literature,” “Shadows of a Lonely Flower: Kenneth Pai and Tsao Jui-yuan on Literary Adaptation” and “Crystal Boys, Desolate Men, and Ghosts: Kenneth Pai and the Development of Taiwan Queer Writing” in Modernism Revisited: Pai Hsien-yung and Taiwan Literary Modernism (Chongfan xiandai: Bai Xianyong, Xiandai wenxue, xiandaizhuyi). Rye Field, forthcoming 2015.*
  • “Imperialist Limbos: Chen Chieh-jen’s Empire’s Borders and the Deconstruction of the American Dream” in National Jinan University Journal of Literature, forthcoming 2015.
  • “Reflections on Chinese-English Literary Translation” in Chinese Literature in Dialogue, Writers Publishing, 2015.*
  • “Yunan 1968: Dreams of the Zhiqing Generation in Literature and Film” Wenxue, Fudan University Press, 2015.*
  • “Storm Under the Sun and the Hu Feng Incident Sixty Years Later” in Chengshi wenyi, 2015.*
  • “Imagining the Past, Narrating History: Rereading Three Works of Chinese Historical Fiction from the 1990s” (Xiangxiang wangshi, xushu lishi: Chongdu Zhongguo jiuling niandai de sanben lishi xiaoshuo”) in Fiction, Canon and Modern Consciousness. Rye Field, 2015.*
  • More than twenty Chinese-language prose essays published weekly in the column “Random Notes on Film” for The Beijing News (Xin jing bao), June 2013-February 2014. (links to articles available online at Douban)*
  • “Deep Focus: The Fifth Generation” Sight & Sound magazine, 2014.
  •  “Chinese Cinema with Hollywood Characteristics, or How the Karate Kid Became a Chinese Film” in Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, edited by Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow, Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • “The Challenge of Language: My Experience in Translation” in Global Forum on Translating Chinese Literature, Writers Publishing, 2012.*
  • “Atrocity Exhibition: Why City of Life and Death’s treatment of the Nanjing Massacre ignited controversy in China” in Film Comment May/June 2011.
  • “A Tale of Two Cities: Romance, Revenge, and Nostalgia in Two fin-de-siecle Novels by Ye Zhaoyan and Zhang Beihai” in Rethinking Chinese Popular Culture edited by Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow (Routledge, 2009).
  • “China: 21st Century Tiger” Sight & Sound, British Film Institute September, 2006. ” Italian version,‘Internazionale’ October, 2006.
  •   “Translating China, Translating Taiwan, Translating Zhang Dachun” in Taiwan Literature and Translation edited by K.C. Tu (Center for Taiwan Studies, UCSB, 2006)
  • “Literary Evidence and Historical Fictions: The Nanjing Massacre in Fiction and Film” Canadian Review of East Asian Studies 1.  Edmonton, 2006.
  • “Revisiting Atrocity: The Nanjing Massacre on Film” (In Japanese) in China 21 No. 24  (Aichi University Press, 2006).
  • “Screening 228: From A City of Sadness to A March of Happiness” in Taiwan Imagined and its Reality edited by K.C. Tu (Center for Taiwan Studies, UCSB, 2005)
  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, edited by Ned Davis (Routledge, 2003) Contributing writer (10 entries: He Qun, Liu Xiaoqing, Pan Hong, Rupture writers, Ye Zhaoyan, Wang Xiaobo, Shi Kang, Christopher Doyle, Wu Ziniu, and Wu He)
  • “Cinematic Representations of the Rape of Nanjing” in East Asia: An International Quarterly vol. 19, no.4 Winter 2001 (Transactions Periodicals Consortium). (Journal version), reprinted in Japanese War Atrocities: The Search for Justice.  Peter Li, editor. January 2003 (Transaction Publishers). (Book version).


  • “Recycling and the Recovery of Lost Memories: A Conversation between Wang Shu and Michael Berry” (Zai huishou zhong zhaohui jiyi: Wang Shu Bai Ruiwen duitan lu” in Dushu (China) September 2015.*
  • Writing and Identity: A Conversation with Gao Xingjian” in National Taiwan Normal University Journal (Special Issue on Gao Xingjian), National Taiwan Normal University Press, 2015.*
  • “From Life of a Gangster to Hong Literature’s Place in the World: Ten Questions for Dream of the Red Chamber Juror Michael Berry” in Fleurs des letters, 2014.*
  • Fangwen Hou Xiaoxian yu Zhu Tianwen” (“An Interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien and Chu Tien-wen”) in You suosi, naizai hainan by Chu Tien-wen. Taipei, INK 2008. Also reprinted as “Wenzi yu yingxiang”  (“Words and Images”) in Hong qiqiu de luxing (Journey of the Red Balloon) Shandong Pictorial 2010. *
  • “An Interview with Michael Berry” by Nancy Y. Xu In The China Press (Qiao bao) October 2003.
  • “When Worlds Collide” An Interview with Michael Berry by Martin Wong in Giant Robot Issue 30 Subcultured, Los Angeles 2003 pg. 69.
  • “Cultural Fallout: An Interview with Jia Zhangke” in Film Comment Volume 39, Number 2, March/April 2003.
  • “Creating Alternatives – Interview with Michael Berry” by Chang Chiung-fang, in Sinorama Vol. 26 No. 1 January 2001 pg. 24-25. Reprinted in Tangben.


Article Length Translations:

  • “Why I Write” by Wang Anyi, “Autobiography” and “Author’s Foreword” by Yu Hua, translated by Michael Berry in Chinese Writers on Writing edited by Arthur Sze, Trinity Press, 2010.
  • “Selected poems of Li Yingqiang” translated by Michael Berry in Literary Review Special Issue on Hong Kong Literature (edited by Shen Shuang).
  • Remains of Life (excerpt) by Wu He translated by Michael Berry in Taiwan Literature University of California, Santa Barbara Summer 2003.
  • “The Literary World of Mo Yan” by David Der-wei Wang translated by Michael Berry in World Literature Today Summer 2000.
  • “Postmodernism and Chinese Novels of the Nineties” by Zhang Yiwu, translated by Michael Berry in Postmodernism & China edited by Arif Dirlik and Xudong Zhang (Duke University Press 2000). (book version).
  • “Postmodernism and Chinese Novels of the Nineties” by Zhang Yiwu, translated by Michael Berry in Boundary 2 volume 24 number 3 fall 1997 (Duke University Press). (journal version).


  • Book Review, Rose, Rose I Love You by Wang Chen-ho in China Review International Vol. 9 (University of Hawaii Press 2003).
  • Book Review, Red Poppies in Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume III, Number 2 Spring 2002.
  • Film Reviews “Orphan of Anyang,” “Feeling By Night,” ““Asian American International Film Festival,” etc. 2001-2002 on Offoffoff Film.
  • Book Review, Panic and Deaf by Liang Xiaosheng in Persimmon Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume II, Number 3 Winter 2002.
  • Book Review, A Woman Soldier’s Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying in Persimmon Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume III, Number 1 Spring 2002.


*Entries marked by an asterisk are Chinese-language publications.

Courses Taught

  • Popular Culture in Modern Chinese Societies
  • Workshop in Chinese translation
  • Imagining Atrocity in Modern Chinese Literature and Film
  • New Taiwan Cinema
  • Literature and Film in Contemporary China
  • Introduction to the Cultures of East Asia: Modern
  • Asian Literatures: Modern Chinese Fiction
  • Fourth Year Chinese: China Through Cinema