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

Corey Byrnes is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Culture at Northwestern University, where he teaches courses in Chinese literature and visual culture, Sinophone cinema, and the environmental humanities. He received a PhD in Chinese Literature from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. His current book project, Fixing Landscape (Columbia University Press, forthcoming), approaches the 2500-year-long representational tradition inspired by the Three Gorges region of southwestern China from the perspective of the recently completed Three Gorges Dam, which displaced well over one million people and radically transformed the ecology of the Yangzi River. Rather than a chronological account of the region’s aesthetic history, it focuses on the individual moments, people, and texts that have had the greatest impact on the imaginative and material production of this iconic landscape. By looking beyond the standard narratives about the origins of the Three Gorges Dam project, it locates the dam’s ultimate horizon of possibility in the aesthetic traditions that made the region both famous and central to the political mythology of multiple Chinese states. Byrnes’ newest work reflects on the relationship between artistic responses to environmental degradation and the global rhetoric of threat that so often defines China in contemporary global discourse.