“Musicology is an incredibly interdisciplinary field with many different facets for research,” Wang-Zheng said. “But the economic and social side of the story has been sidelined by the more popular and equally important topics of gender and race.”
Wang-Zheng’s initial inspiration for this project, titled Mothers and Sisters: Musical Women in Their Music Families, came from her own family, specifically her mother. Since he introduced her to the piano at the age of 4, she has continued to support and encourage him to pursue his musical passions. It was this contribution to his own musical journey that inspired him to study the contribution of women to music more broadly. Taking advantage of his time in England, he worked with counselor Lydia Hamessley, Emeritus Professor of Music Eugene M. Tobin, to focus his research on music education in late Victorian England. He found primary sources in the archives of the Royal College of Music.
The Royal College of Music in London was founded in 1882 with two different groups of students: academics, a select group of students who attended the college for free, and fee-paying students. Using the records of paying students enrolled between 1883 and 1885, Wang-Zheng collected quantitative data on the affordability of middle-class women. Although it was difficult to find information on wages, given the historical emphasis on the working class as opposed to the middle class, Wang-Zheng discovered something else to supplement his research: the occupations of fathers. students. This information will help define the socio-economic class of women, providing a clear insight into college affordability.
Hometown: Shanghai, China
High School: International Division of Shanghai High School
“The nature of this project is quite paradoxical because on the one hand we are using data, but on the other hand I see it as imagining history,” Wang-Zheng said. “I gather as much information as I can and that information can tell a story about the lives of late Victorian middle-class women.”
Wang-Zheng plans to complete her research in mid-September and eventually share her findings through a presentation and an academic paper. However, his interest in musicology did not stop there.
Through independent projects, the senior program, research with faculty members, and summer internships, Hamilton offers many opportunities for students to engage in meaningful research.