25th Lord and Parry Lecture

On Thursday, February 10th, 2011 Mark Bender will offer the 25th Albert Lord and Milman Parry Lecture at the University of Missouri. The title of his talk, to be delivered at 7:30 pm in the Auditorium (Room 7) in the School of Law's Hulston Hall, is “Butterflies and Dragon-Eagles: Processing Epics from Southwest China” [abstract]. The lecture is sponsored by the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding in 1986.

Dr. Mark Bender

Dr. Bender, Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University, specializes in traditional performance and the performance-connected literature of China, including local Han and ethnic minority cultures. He has conducted fieldwork in many different parts of China, including a seven-year residence in Wuhan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. This firsthand experience of oral tradition in cultural context, parallel to Albert Lord’s and Milman Parry’s fieldwork in the Former Yugoslavia, has fueled his research and made his writings especially valuable and noteworthy.

Dr. Mark Bender's book, Plum and Bamboo: China’s Suzhou Chantefable TraditionDr. Mark Bender's book, Butterfly Mother: Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, ChinanAmong Bender’s central publications are Plum and Bamboo: China’s Suzhou Chantefable Tradition (University of Illinois Press, 2003); Butterfly Mother: Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, China (Hackett, 2006); and The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature (Columbia University Press, 2011). An easily available example of his writings on Chinese oral traditions can be found in the journal Oral Tradition.

Butterflies and Dragon-Eagles: Processing Epics from Southwest China

In the mountains of southwest China, epic narratives are part of the traditional performance-scapes of many ethnic minority cultures. In some cases locals participate in the preservation of oral or oral-connected epics from their respective areas. In this lecture Mark Bender will discuss the dynamics of acquiring and translating texts from two major ethnic minority groups in cooperation with local tradition-bearers, poets, and scholars.