My research journey began with Chinese vernacular fiction and popular culture in the Ming and Qing (1368-1911), and has travelled through orality and performance to embrace regional literature and cultural history, especially history of the book. In the process of exploring some of the most widely read narratives of the Qing and early Republic (1800-1937), such as martial arts fiction and court case drum ballads, I find myself drawn to interdisciplinary approaches. My first book, “Green Peony” and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel (SUNY, 2009), focuses on issues of literary genre and the relationship between popular and elite culture. I was inspired to study the martial arts novel by my interest in the interaction between performance traditions and the novel in China, which led to my co-editing The Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature (NIAS, 2010). I also co-edited Yangzhou - A Place in Chinese Literature: The Local in Chinese Cultural History (Hawaii, 2015). This interdisciplinary volume grew out of an interest in local culture, as did my recent book, Regional Literature and the Transmission of Culture: Chinese Drum Ballads 1800-1937 (Harvard, December 2019). The drum ballad project was awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship.
- “Mapping the Traditional Chinese Novel.” Presented at the University of Notre Dame. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 09/07/2019.
- “Mapping the Traditional Chinese Novel.” Presented at the Digital Technology Expo of the Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Denver, March 23, 2019. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 03/23/2019.
- “Popular Narrative in Qing and Republican China.” Read at the conference on Popular Literature in Contemporary China, University of Geneva, Switzerland. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/16/2017.
- “Mapping the Traditional Chinese Novel.” Presented at the University of Michigan, February 8, 2017. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/08/2017.
- “Mapping the Chinese Novel.” Presented at the conference on Digital Research in East Asian Studies: Corpora, Methods, and Challenges, Leiden University, Netherlands, July 10-12, 2016. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 07/11/2016.
- “Legends, Media, and Stars: The Transmission of Chinese Popular Culture, 1820s-1920s.” Presented at UCLA. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/12/2016.
- “Court Case Ballads: Popular Ideals of Justice in Late Qing and Republican China.” Presented at the International Workshop on Chinese Legal History/Culture/Modernity, Columbia University. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/05/2012.
- “Yangzhou – a place in literature: issues from a tentative framework,” opening address for the International Workshop on Yangzhou - A Place in Literature, at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 09/01/2011.
- “Drum Ballads as Local Literature: Audiences and Reading Practices,” invited lecture presented at the Institute for Chinese Studies’ “The Future of the Past” series, The Ohio State University. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 10/10/2008.
- “Popular Literature and Local Culture in the Qing,” invited lecture presented at the Norwegian Academy of Science, Oslo, Norway. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/05/2007.
- “Green Peony as New Popular Fiction,” invited lecture at China’s Long 20th Century Workshop, University of Chicago. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/25/2001.
- Margaret B. Wan (2020). Regional Literature and the Transmission of Culture: Chinese Drum Ballads 1800-1937.. (pp. 434). Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press.
- Yangzhou - A Place in Literature: The Local in Chinese Cultural History. Co-edited with Roland Altenburger and Vibeke Børdahl. University of Hawaii Press.
- "Court Case Ballads: Popular Ideals of Justice in Late Qing and Republican China." In Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin, eds, Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice and Transformation, 1530s to 1950s (Brill, 2015), 287-320. Published, 01/2015.
- Review of Wilt Idema, Judge Bao and the Rule of Law. In Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 33 (December 2011): 205-206. Published, 12/2011.
- “The Drum Ballad Cases of Judge Liu: A Window on the Form in the Early Nineteenth Century.” In I.S. Smirnov, ed., China and Around: Mythology, Folklore, Literature (Moscow: Russian State University for the Humanities, 2010), 237-250. Published, 11/2010.
- The Interplay of Oral and Written in Chinese Popular Literature, co-edited with Vibeke Børdahl. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press.
- “Audiences and reading practices for Qing dynasty drum ballad texts.” In Vibeke Børdahl and Margaret Wan, eds., The Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2010), 41-60. Published, 09/2010.
- Green Peony and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel. Albany: State University of New York.
- Review of Chloe Starr, _Red-light Novels of the late Qing._ Journal of Asian Studies 68.3 (August 2009), pp. 960-961. Published, 2009.
- "Local Fiction of the Yangzhou Region: _Qingfengzha_." In Lucie Olivova and Vibeke Bordahl, eds., _Lifestyle and Entertainment in Yangzhou_ (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, May 2009), 177-204. Published, 2009.
- “The Chantefable and the Novel: The Cases of Lü Mudan and Tianbao tu,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies.