Carolyn Abbate

Harvard University
Humanities and Arts
Performing Arts

Carolyn Abbate is Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser University Professor and chair of the Department of Music at Harvard University. Outside academia, she has worked as a dramaturge and director both in the US and Europe, and as a French-English translator. 

Abbate’s writing has focused on opera as it has evolved over the past four centuries, with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Her work ranges widely, drawing on diverse disciplines, including linguistics and semiotics, philosophy, film sound studies, history of science. Her books include In Search of Opera and A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years with Roger Parker. Recent projects delve into sound technologies from the late-eighteenth century to the Machine Age, and links between obscure sound-technological artifacts and ideas about human hearing in past historical eras. 

Previously, Abbate held faculty positions at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and, as visiting professor, at the Freie Universität Berlin. 

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