Margaret Hillenbrand


Professor of Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture; Fellow of Wadham College 

Faculty / College Address:

China Centre / Wadham College


Research Interests:

My research focusses on literary and visual culture in twentieth-century China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, especially cultures of protest and secrecy. My most recent book is On the Edge: Feeling Precarious in China (Columbia University Press, 2023), research for which was supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2020-2021) and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2021-2023). I am now working on a new project about the cultural politics of the face in Chinese visual culture during the era of biometric surveillance, cosmetic surgery, and masked protest.

Selected Publications:


[Podcasts/interviews about this book: China Digital Times Made in China Journal: New Books Network: View: Theories and Practices of Visual Culture: Table Media​​​​​​]

[Podcasts/interviews about this book: New Books Network:]

  • Documenting China: An Interpretive Reader in Seminal Twentieth-Century Texts (with Chloë Starr), Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011. 240 pp.  
  • Literature, Modernity, and the Practice of Resistance: Japanese and Taiwanese Fiction, 1960-1990, Leiden: Brill, 2007. 362 pp.  

[Partly translated into Chinese as “Chongshen Meiguo baquan”, trans. Chang Yu-min, Tu Hsin-hsin, and Cheng Hui-wen, in Li Sher-shiueh (ed.), Yidi fanhua: haiwai Taiwan wenxue wenlun xuanyi, vol. 2, Taibei: National Taiwan University Press, 2012, 229-320].

Edited special issues

  • Guest editor, The Colour of Chinese Cinemas, special issue of Journal of Chinese Cinemas 6/3 (2012). 
  • Guest editor, Contemporary East Asia, in Theory, special issue of Postcolonial Studies 13/4 (2010). 

Journal articles

Book chapters

  • “Analog, Digital, Apparatus: The Photography of Ren Hang,” in Carlos Rojas, Jinying Li, and Yomi Braester (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Digital Media, Oxford University Press, in press.
  • “Voices of Empire in Dubliners and Taibeiren in Shu-mei Shih and Ping-hui Liao (eds.), Comparatizing Taiwan, New York and London: Routledge, 2014, 175-201.
  • The Personals: Backward Glances, Knowing Looks, and the Voyeur Film” in Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus 2, London, British Film Institute, 2008, 175-81.



  • “Kubi to karada” (Head and Body) by Wu Yongfu, tr. M. Hillenbrand, Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 19: Special Issue on Taiwan Literature During the Period of Japanese Rule (2006): 39-49.


  • “Gu’er de yanjing. Wu Zhuoliu youjizhong de ziwo ningshi yu tazhe xiangxiang” (The Eyes of an Orphan: Gazing at the Self and Imagining the Other in the Travel Diaries of Wu Zhuoliu) by Jian Yiming, tr. M. Hillenbrand, Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 15: Special Issue on Wu Zhuoliu (2004): 199-240.

Further Info:

Book series editor

East Asian Cinemas, Edinburgh University Press, 2012-: 

Seminar series

Convenor of the Oxford Seminar on Visual Culture in Modern and Contemporary China

Current and recent D.Phil. students

Kate Costello: “Writing Between Languages: Rethinking Bilingualism in Contemporary Chinese Literature”

Annabella Massey: “Cities of the Mind: New Urban Imaginaries in Contemporary Chinese Literary and Visual Culture”

Flair Donglai Shi: “The Yellow Peril Discourse in Anglophone and Sinophone Literatures, 1895 to the Present: Mutations, Reactions, and Reincarnations” (co-supervisor)

Xiaochu Wu: “The Aesthetics of Contemporary Chinese Feature Film”

Min Hui Yeo: “Working with the Other: Connections between the Malay- and Chinese-language Cinemas and Film Industries (1950s-1980s)"

Linqing Zhu: “Landscapes of the Heart”: Pictorial, Calligraphic, and Literary Traditions in Contemporary Chinese Film"

Hao Wang: "Imagining the World in Sinophone Literature and Visual Arts during WWII"

Aoife Cantrill: "Translating Kōminka: Shaping Narrative of Japanese Rule in Taiwan through Translation Post-1975"

Ziru Chen: "The Sensory Aesthetic of Contemporary East Asian Art Cinema"

Billy Beswick: "Intra-National Becoming: The Relational Construction of Ethnic and National Identity in the Visual and Literary Cultures of Taiwan and Tibet"