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Karen Henson is an assistant professor of music at Columbia University, where her research focuses on 19th-century opera, singers and operatic performance, and opera and technology. She recently completed her first book, Singing Acts: Singers, Opera, and Performance in the Late Nineteenth Century, and is now completing an edited volume, Technology and the Diva: Sopranos, Opera, and the Media from Romanticism to the Twenty-First Century. Both are forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
While in residence at the Radcliffe Institute, Henson will work on a book, “Acoustic Orpheus: Opera and Early Sound Recording, 1877 to 1906.” The project explores the early history of opera and sound recording, from the invention of the technology, in 1877, to the first sustained attempts to record opera with orchestral accompaniment, in 1906. By focusing on the very first years of this history, Henson aims to show how an old, distinguished, and often extravagant art adapted to the challenges and opportunities of a new technology.
Henson holds a DPhil and an MA from the University of Oxford. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships from the British Academy, a Junior Research Fellowship from Christ Church, Oxford, and an external faculty fellowship from the Stanford Humanities Center.