Area: Chinese Literature and Culture
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Office Hours: By appointment.
Professor Byrnes’ training and research interests range broadly over pre-modern, modern and contemporary Chinese cultural production. His first book project, tentatively titled “Rising from a Placid Lake: China’s Three Gorges at the Intersection of History, Aesthetics and Politics,” brings together early Chinese mythology, medieval poetry and travel narratives, 20th century English language scientific texts, as well as contemporary Chinese film and painting in order to explore how an iconic ‘Chinese landscape’ is constituted over time. Far more than a linear history of representations of the Three Gorges leading up to their transformation by the Three Gorges Dam project, this project traces the central role that pre-modern literary and visual traditions play in not only the modern rhetoric of economic and social development (in its colonialist, Maoist and nationalist iterations) that gives rise to the massive dam, but also in critical responses to unbridled development and its effects in contemporary China—environmental degradation, cultural erasure, social malaise.
Research and Teaching Interests:
Premodern and Modern Chinese Literature
Premodern, Modern and Contemporary Chinese Visual Culture