Steven Collins was trained at Oxford University, where he took Honour Moderations in Literae Humaniores (Greek and Latin Literature, 1972); and Final Honours in P.P.P. (Psychology and Philosophy, 1974) at Christ Church; he was a Graduate Student (1975-77) and Graduate Scholar (1977-79) at Wolfson College and Junior Research Fellow in Oriental Languages at Exeter College (1979-80). He taught at Bristol University (England, 1980-87), Indiana University (Bloomington, 1987-89), and Concordia University (Montreal, 1989-91) before joining the University of Chicago. He is Council Member of the Pali Text Society (London).
Social and cultural history of Buddhism in premodern and modern South and Southeast Asia; Pali language and literature.
Current interests include the varieties and civilizational place of wisdom, and Buddhist practices of self.
- D. Phil., Wolfson College, Oxford University, 1979. Thesis: Personal Continuity in Theravada Buddhism
- Selfless Persons: imagery and thought in Theravada Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1982 (paperback edition, 1990).
- Nirvana and other Buddhist Felicities: Utopias of the Pali imaginaire, Cambridge University Press, 1998 (paperback edition 2006).
- A Pali Grammar for Students (Silkworm Press, 2006).
- Nirvana: concept, imagery, narrative. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- The Vessantara Jātaka (ed., Columbia University Press Readings in Buddhist Literatures, 2016).
Articles and Contributions to Edited Volumes
- "Oral Aspects of Pali Literature," The Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 35, 1992, pp. 121-35.
- "The Discourse on What is Primary (Aggañña Sutta)": an annotated translation, Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol. 21 (4) 1993, pp. 301-93.
- "What are Buddhists doing when they deny the self?", in Religion and Practical Reason, edited by Frank Reynolds and David Tracy, SUNY Press, 1994, pp. 59-86.
- "What is Literature in Pali?", in S. Pollock (ed.), Literary Cultures in History (University of California Press, 2003), pp. 649-88.
- "On the Third Precept: Adultery and Prostitution in Pali Texts," Journal of the Pali Text Society, vol. XXVIII (Festschrift for K. R. Norman), 2007.
- "Monasticism, Utopias and Comparative Social Theory," Religion 18.5 (1988): 101-135.
- "On the Very Idea of the Pali Canon," Journal of the Pali Text Society XV (1990): 89-126.
- "Remarks on the Visuddhimagga, and on its treatment of the Memory of Former Dwelling(s) (pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇa),’ Journal of Indian Philosophy (published online 26 August 2009). " Journal of Indian Philosophy (published online 26 August 2009).
- "Buddhist nuns (mae chi) and the teaching of Pali in Thailand" (jointly with Justin McDaniel); forthcoming in Modern Asian Studies (2010).
- The Theravāda Civilizations Project: Future Directions in the Study of Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Contemporary Buddhism 2012 (1) (jointly with Juliane Schober)
- ‘Postscript’ Champions of Buddhism: Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma, (eds.) Guillaume Rozenberg, Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière and Alicia Turner (National University of Singapore Press, 2014).
- ‘Remarks on the dichotomy rūpakāya / dhammakāya,’ Contemporary Buddhism, 2014, vol. 15 (2)
'Madness in Pali Texts’, Buddhist Studies Review, 2014 vol. 31 (2)