Corey Byrnes Director of Undergraduate Studies; Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Literature

Corey Byrnes received his Ph.D. in Chinese literature from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. He teaches courses on Chinese literature of various periods, 20th and 21st century sinophone cinema, realism, popular culture and culture and the environment.

Corey's research interests are primarily in modern and contemporary Chinese literature, film and visual culture, especially as they relate to the representation of displacement, dispossession and trauma. His research also engages with the practical, theoretical and imaginary connections between contemporary Chinese cultural production and ecological catastrophe. His latest work draws on research in critical animal studies, speculative realism and object oriented ontology (OOO) to explore questions of scale, the role of animals in the construction of a global Chinese imaginary and the history of the modern concept of “nature” (自然 ziran) in China.

Ecology and the poetics of disappearance are the foci of Corey's current manuscript, “Rising from a Placid Lake,” a selective history of the 3000 year old representational culture of the Three Gorges region of southwestern China from the perspective of the recently completed Three Gorges Dam project, which has raised the level of the Yangzi River by 170 meters, totally transforming this iconic landscape. This project brings together a broad variety of sources, including early mythology, poetry and travel writing of the Six Dynasties, Tang and Song (in which Corey has extensive training), scientific, literary and political writings in English and Chinese from the Republican era as well as contemporary responses to the dam in film and the visual arts.