Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History

Presented by Dr. Richard Bell. This summer, Baltimore has Hamilton-mania! Everyone’s talking about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical and many of us have the triple-platinum cast album playing on repeat. Its crafty lyrics, hip-hop tunes, and big, bold story have even rejuvenated interest in the real lives and true histories that Hamilton: the Musical puts center stage. In this talk, which is aimed at people who know the soundtrack or who have seen the show, University of Maryland historian Dr. Richard Bell explores this musical phenomenon to reveal what its success tells us about the marriage of history and show-business. We will learn what this amazing musical gets right and gets wrong about Alexander Hamilton, the American Revolution, and the birth of the United Sates and about why all that matters. We will examine some of the choices Hamilton’s creators made to simplify, dramatize, and humanize the complicated events and stories on which the show is based. We will also talk about Hamilton’s cultural impact: what does its runaway success reveal about the stories we tell each other about who we are and about the nation we made?

Doors Open at 6:00pm for preview clips

Lecture with Q&A presented by Dr. Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland

Light refreshments to follow

$15/members; $20/nonmembers

This summer, Baltimore has Hamilton-mania! Everyone’s talking about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical and many of us have the triple-platinum cast album playing on repeat. Its crafty lyrics, hip-hop tunes, and big, bold story have even rejuvenated interest in the real lives and true histories that Hamilton: the Musical puts center stage.

In this talk, which is aimed at people who know the soundtrack or who have seen the show, University of Maryland historian Dr. Richard Bell explores this musical phenomenon to reveal what its success tells us about the marriage of history and show-business. We will learn what this amazing musical gets right and gets wrong about Alexander Hamilton, the American Revolution, and the birth of the United Sates and about why all that matters. We will examine some of the choices Hamilton’s creators made to simplify, dramatize, and humanize the complicated events and stories on which the show is based. We will also talk about Hamilton’s cultural impact: what does its runaway success reveal about the stories we tell each other about who we are and about the nation we made?

Richard Bell (Ph.D. Harvard) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His research interests focus on American history between 1750 and 1877. His published work includes We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States (2012), and Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (2012). Dr. Bell is also the author of several journal articles, most recently in the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature, Slavery and Abolition, and History Compass. Dr. Bell has held research fellowships at more than a dozen libraries and institutes, including the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition and Resistance at Yale University. He is also a frequent lecturer and debater on the C-Span television network. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards.

 
June 27, 2019 6:00 PM   through   8:00 PM