SUSAN BOYNTON, Director of The University Seminars
Professor of Music, Columbia University

Dear Colleagues,

Since their inception, The University Seminars have offered the opportunity to reach new insights through shared conversation among and across the disciplines. The Seminars systematically and centripetally bring together scholars from Columbia and elsewhere to take part in sustained intellectual exchange. Since I came to the University in 2000, The Seminars have become my academic second home, and I know that they have been just as formative and stimulating for many others as they have been for me. Now as always, The Seminars occupy a special place in the lives of their members.

The Seminars pave the way for new thinking by enabling conversations that transcend institutional structures. Existing as a bedrock of continuity in the midst of fragmentation, this unique institution provides an urgently needed space for community and collegiality, whether in person or online. The intersections created by The Seminars have the potential to foster fruitful collaborations and creativity, and to help scholars communicate across boundaries and divisions of all kinds. As Director, I want to support these essential functions of The Seminars, to promote them in building shared discourses, and to involve an ever-widening circle of participants. I welcome the input of seminar chairs, members, staff, and rapporteurs.


Susan Boynton, Director of The University Seminars

Since joining the faculty of the Columbia Department of Music in 2000, Susan Boynton has been a member of The University Seminar on Medieval Studies, which she chaired from 2007-17. She joined the Advisory Board (now Executive Committee) of The University Seminars in 2012 and has co-chaired The University Seminar on Religion and Writing since 2021. Boynton’s research and teaching interests include liturgy and music in medieval Western monasticism; manuscript studies; music in the Iberian peninsula; music and childhood, and the history of education; intersections of music with the visual arts; and the history of religion. She has written or edited eight books. The first, Shaping a Monastic Identity: Liturgy and History at the Imperial Abbey of Farfa, 1000-1125 (2006), won the Lewis Lockwood Award of the American Musicological Society. Her second monograph, Silent Music: Medieval Song and the Construction of History in Eighteenth-Century Spain (2011), won the Society’s Robert M. Stevenson Award. With the art historian Diane J. Reilly, Boynton coedited The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages (2011) and Resounding Images: Medieval Intersections of Art, Music, and Sound (2015), which won the American Musicological Society’s Ruth A. Solie Award. Boynton’s other coedited volumes include From Dead of Night to End of Day: The Medieval Customs of Cluny (2005), with Isabelle Cochelin; Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth (2006), with Roe-Min Kok; Young Choristers, 650-1700 (2008), with Eric Rice; and A Cultural History of Religion: The Middle Ages (forthcoming) with Louis Hamilton. She is currently completing a manuscript on the reception and historiography of the Mozarabic rite in early modern Europe.

Boynton is coeditor (with Diane J. Reilly) of the medieval art history journal Gesta (University of Chicago Press). Her articles have appeared in Journal of the American Musicological Society, Speculum, Viator, Traditio, and in other journals and edited volumes representing several different humanities disciplines. Boynton’s research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy in Rome, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

In 2020, Boynton was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, an honor awarded by the Prime Minister of France on the recommendation of the Minister of Education. Boynton is also a recipient of Columbia’s Distinguished Faculty Award.