Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History with Richard Bell

Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History with Richard Bell


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Join historian Rick Bell as we talk about all things Hamilton and History. We’ll discuss how this juggernaut show treats the Revolution, democracy, race and slavery, and what it tells us about how history is made and who gets to make it in America.
Even in lockdown, America has Hamilton-mania. With Disney+ streaming the show this summer, everyone’s talking about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical. 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 seminar, which is aimed at people who know the soundtrack or who’ve 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’ll learn what this amazing musical gets right and gets wrong about Alexander Hamilton, the American Revolution, and the birth of the United States 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?
Photo credit: Smithsonian Art Inventory Catalog, IAP 08930129

Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar Award. Professor Bell is author of the new book "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home," which was shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 58 reviews
93%
(54)
5%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
A
A. (Maplewood, US)
Considering "Hamilton", the musical

If you have ever attended a lecture with Dr. Bell, you know he is always thoroughly prepared with well researched material and a cogent presentation. In this talk, he considered two questions: Is "Hamilton" historically accurate and does it matter. Giving Lin-Manuel Miranda full credit for creating a wonderful show (which he has seen four times on two continents), Dr. Bell discussed the historical inaccuracies/omissions largely having to do with racial issues. He discussed the use of Black actors playing the roles of White historical figures, possibly as a way of making up for those inaccuracies and omissions. The question of whether this matters provided an opportunity for attendees to weigh in. Resources were given for further individual exploration. I recommend this program for history and theater buffs as well as for those who enjoy considering "existential dilemmas".

A
A. (Maplewood, US)
An Excellent Think Piece

The questions Dr. Bell poses are essentially, "Is Hamilton, The Musical historically correct and does it matter." He uses the time to discuss the play, its historical truths and inaccuracies (most significantly having to do with the issue of slavery being largely ignored), and the use of Black actors to play White roles as possibly a way to make up formatting important racial issues. He gives clear examples and reference sources. The question of whether it matters became the meat for participant discussion. If you've attended programs with Dr. Bell before, you know that everything he has to say is well thought out, researched, and informative. If you are a history or theater buff, or if you just enjoy exploring "existential dilemmas", I recommend this program.

B
B.G. (Briarcliff Manor, US)
Another wonderful lecture from Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell's lectures are always so interesting and presented in a most entertaining way. I have learned so much from him these last two years.

b
b.F. (Lawrence, US)
Just what i hoped for

I loved Hamilton and wondered about the historic accuracy. Richard did a great presentation on the good, the bad and the ugly. I appreciated him sharing resources and loved his enthusiasm. I will definitely look forward to other courses with him.

R
R.P. (Los Osos, US)
Interesting, Entertaining and Informative

An entertaining yet thought provoking look at history through the lens of Hamilton. Well worth the time spent.

Customer Reviews

Based on 58 reviews
93%
(54)
5%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
2%
(1)
A
A. (Maplewood, US)
Considering "Hamilton", the musical

If you have ever attended a lecture with Dr. Bell, you know he is always thoroughly prepared with well researched material and a cogent presentation. In this talk, he considered two questions: Is "Hamilton" historically accurate and does it matter. Giving Lin-Manuel Miranda full credit for creating a wonderful show (which he has seen four times on two continents), Dr. Bell discussed the historical inaccuracies/omissions largely having to do with racial issues. He discussed the use of Black actors playing the roles of White historical figures, possibly as a way of making up for those inaccuracies and omissions. The question of whether this matters provided an opportunity for attendees to weigh in. Resources were given for further individual exploration. I recommend this program for history and theater buffs as well as for those who enjoy considering "existential dilemmas".

A
A. (Maplewood, US)
An Excellent Think Piece

The questions Dr. Bell poses are essentially, "Is Hamilton, The Musical historically correct and does it matter." He uses the time to discuss the play, its historical truths and inaccuracies (most significantly having to do with the issue of slavery being largely ignored), and the use of Black actors to play White roles as possibly a way to make up formatting important racial issues. He gives clear examples and reference sources. The question of whether it matters became the meat for participant discussion. If you've attended programs with Dr. Bell before, you know that everything he has to say is well thought out, researched, and informative. If you are a history or theater buff, or if you just enjoy exploring "existential dilemmas", I recommend this program.

B
B.G. (Briarcliff Manor, US)
Another wonderful lecture from Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell's lectures are always so interesting and presented in a most entertaining way. I have learned so much from him these last two years.

b
b.F. (Lawrence, US)
Just what i hoped for

I loved Hamilton and wondered about the historic accuracy. Richard did a great presentation on the good, the bad and the ugly. I appreciated him sharing resources and loved his enthusiasm. I will definitely look forward to other courses with him.

R
R.P. (Los Osos, US)
Interesting, Entertaining and Informative

An entertaining yet thought provoking look at history through the lens of Hamilton. Well worth the time spent.