As we emerge from the hibernation of intersession, I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope that we may all continue to share the work of safeguarding a peaceful, civil year, both at Columbia and in our many different outside worlds. Here, we are focused as always on The Seminars, and on our obligation to maintain continuity with their past while keeping them as open as possible to the future. Consider for instance the Schoff Lectures. This past fall we had the great honor of sharing three evenings with Edward Mendelson, who took us through a single book, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, in three successive weeks through three different aspects of the novel. “Medicine, Empire, Love: The Inner Life of Mrs. Dalloway” will appear as the 2017 Schoff Lectures, to be published by Columbia University Press. The 2018 Schoff Lectures will be by our distinguished Music Department colleague Fred Lerdahl. And what of the fall of 2019? For those Schoff Lectures we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of The Seminars by Frank Tannenbaum, in the closing years of World War II. We are looking to produce a volume that will include a history of The Seminars based on our searchable digital archive of minutes from seminars and of correspondence from my four predecessors as Director. This history will be complemented by histories of separate seminars, written by chairs and members of those seminars. Thinking that perhaps this would be a lot of work for a lot of you, I did my own essay of a sort, and began to study the origins of the Seminar on Content and Methods in the Social Sciences, now chaired by Tony Carnes. I picked that seminar because I enjoy attending it when I can, and learned it was founded by Joseph Maier, a German refugee with a Columbia PhD in sociology, who had an illustrious career as an author after a stint as the key translator for interrogators working at the Nuremberg Trials of 1946-47. His oral history, complemented by the minutes of his seminar, convinced me that there are treasures to be unearthed, and that everyone who cares for their seminar should pitch in. If we are all focused on the task, I am confident we can get this book to Columbia University Press in time to have it appear in 2020, our 75th anniversary year. I hope every Seminar will discuss this opportunity at an early meeting in the Spring, and that you will not hesitate to reach out to all of us in the office if you have any questions or suggestions about how best to accomplish the assembly of this unique volume.
Director, The University Seminars