Susan Boynton

Professor of Music, Historical Musicology
Area Chair, Historical Musicology (2022-23)
Director, Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Office Address: 
619B Dodge Hall
(212) 854-7186
Susan Boynton joined the Columbia faculty in 2000. Her research interests include liturgy and music in medieval Western monasticism, particularly the abbey of Cluny; manuscript studies; music in the Iberian peninsula; music and childhood; and intersections of music with the visual arts.  Boynton has published seven 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. Prof. Boynton coedited (with Diane J. Reilly) The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages (2011). Also coedited with Diane J. Reilly,  Resounding Images: Medieval Intersections of Art, Music, and Sound (2015) won the American Musicological Society's Ruth A. Solie Award. Boynton's other coedited volumes include From Dead of Night to End of Day (2005), with Isabelle Cochelin, Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth (2006), with Roe-Min Kok; and Young Choristers, 650-1700 (2008), with Eric Rice. Boynton's articles have been published in The Journal of the American Musicological SocietySpeculumViatorTraditio, and other leading journals in musicology and medieval studies; she has contributed invited chapters to numerous edited volumes (for a complete list see the CV linked in the upper right corner of this page).
In 2020, Boynton was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiquesan 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. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy in Rome, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute.
Boynton is deeply involved in medieval art history through her research, teaching, and editorial activities. In addition to coediting the award-winning book Resounding Images, she has published several essays on the visual arts, including "The Visual Representation of Music and Sound," in The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography, ed. Colum Hourihane (2016). She is currently coeditor (with Diane J. Reilly) of the medieval art history journal Gestapublished by the University of Chicago Press for the International Center of Medieval Art. With art historian Anne-Orange Poilpré of the University of Paris, she has organized international workshops for graduate students on the study of images in the humanities, funded by the grants from the Aliiance Program. From 2016-19, Boynton was the Columbia Project Leader of FAB-Musiconis, a Franco-American digital humanities and musical iconography exchange codirected with Frédéric Billiet of Paris-Sorbonne University and supported by the Partner University Fund of the FACE Foundation. In 2021, she spoke on musical iconography in the the Sacher Distinguished Lecture at the Cali School of Music, Montclair State University: see the video, "Pictures Worth a Thousand Words," here.
Boynton continues to pursue her longstanding research interests in music and childhood through invited lectures and publications, as well as co-chairing the Study Group on Childhood and Music of the American Musicological Society.
With the historian Isabelle Cochelin (University of Toronto), Boynton is a general editor of the interdisciplinary series Disciplina Monastica: Studies on Medieval Monastic Life/Etudes sur la vie monastique au moyen age (Brepols Publishers), in which 13 volumes have appeared to date. Boynton is an Associate Member of the Institut de recherche en musicologie (IReMus) of the Centre national de le recherche scientifique (France). She is a member of the Wissenschaftlicher Beirat (Scientific Board) of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Basel, Switzerland) and the Board of Advisers of the Axion Estin Foundation. At Columbia, Boynton is a member of the Executive Committee of The University Seminars. In 2018-19 she served as Resident Faculty Director of the new Institute for Ideas and Imagination at Columbia's Global Center in Paris. Beginning on 1 January 2023, Boynton will serve as Director of The University Seminars.
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
Yale University
Medieval Studies
Yale University
Diplôme (graduate diploma)
Medieval Studies
Louvain la Neuve
Music and Women's Studies
Brandeis University
Brandeis University