Corey Byrnes is an associate professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and in the Comparative Literary Studies Program at Northwestern University, where he researches and teaches classes on the environmental humanities, modern and contemporary Chinese literary and visual culture, animal studies, and spatial and landscape studies. He is the author of Fixing Landscape: A Techno-Poetic History of China’s Three Gorges (Columbia University Press, 2019), which won the Weatherhead East Asian Institute’s 2018 First Book Prize and an honorable mention for the American Comparative Literary Association’s 2020 Harry Levin Prize.
At Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Byrnes is working on a new book, tentatively titled “China as Threat,” which examines the relationship between China and a global environmental imaginary in which the former is increasingly treated as an existential threat. Combining approaches from Chinese cultural studies, animal studies, the environmental humanities, and other disciplines, “China as Threat” examines not only how familiar discourses of a threatening China have been resurrected in responses to recent environmental and public health crises—including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—but also how Chinese cultural producers have responded to similar issues.
Byrnes has earned degrees from Brown University (AB), the University of Cambridge (MPhil), and the University of California, Berkeley (PhD). His research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard, the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and Northwestern’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, where he coleads the Environmental Humanities Research Workshop initiative.