Jan Nattier did her undergraduate work in comparative religion (specializing in Buddhism) at Indiana University, where she also began graduate training in the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University under the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies (specializing in classical Mongolian and Tibetan). She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, Indiana University, and the University of Tokyo, in addition to serving as a member of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology (Soka University). Her monographs include Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Philosophy of Decline (Asian Humanities Press, 1991), A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchāsūtra) (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003), and A Guide to the Earliest Chinese Buddhist Translations (Soka University, 2008). Jan was the Numata Visiting Professor in Fall 2015.
In Fall 2019 she will be offering a graduate seminar: “C220. Seminar in Buddhism and Buddhist Texts”. In this seminar they will do a close reading of the Chinese text “The Five Wishes of King Biṁbisāra” (蓱沙王五願經, T511), comparing it with several other versions of the sūtra (and in Pāli, both sutta and commentary) preserved in Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit. As they do they will consider the relationship between sūtra and commentary, techniques for determining the date of anonymous Chinese translations, and tools for identifying previously unknown parallels to Pāli scriptures. They will also discuss ways to determine the meaning of Chinese vocabulary that has not yet been documented in existing dictionaries, and any doctrinally or culturally significant differences that the translator’s choices may suggest.