Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Professor Bender specializes in traditional performance and performance-connected literature of China, including local Han and ethnic minority cultures. He teaches Chinese and East Asian culture courses, a course on Traditional Performance in Contemporary East Asia, an introduction to folklore in East Asia, and seminars that have included ethnic minority epic, Chinese prosimetric literature, and oral and written ethnic poetry. Bender has published on numerous subjects, including Suzhou professional storytelling (pingtan) and the oral and written literatures of several Chinese minority cultures, such as the Yi, Miao (Hmong), and Daur. His books include Plum and Bamboo: China's Suzhou Chantefable Tradition (University of Illinois Press, 2003), Butterfly Mother: Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou Province, China (Hackett Publishing, 2006), The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature, edited with Victor Mair (2011). A recent article is "Dying Hunters, Poison Plants, and Mute Slaves: Nature and Tradition in ContemporaryNuosu Yi Poetry (Asian Highlands Perspectives, 2009). Other projects include a study of nature themes in Yi oral and written literature, an annotated translation of a major Yi epic, a tri-lingual edition of a Miao epic poem, and an examination of trends in ethnic poetry in southwest China and North-East India.