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 intrduction to ethnic minority writing in China and the borderlands of 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). His most recent book is The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry, which features poems by 48 poets in North East India, Myanmar, Southwest China, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia (Cambria Press, 2017). A recent article is "Landscapes and Life-Forms in Cosmographic Epics from Southwest China," published in Chinese Literature Today (Volume 5, Number 2, 2016). Other projects include an annotated translation of a major epic of the Yi people of Southwest China, eco-poetry in Eastern Asia, and practices of self-cultivation in Asia.