Even in lockdown, America has Hamilton-mania! With the launch of the show on streaming this July 4th weekend, 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 talk Dr. 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 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?
Dr. Richard Bell is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a BA from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Rick has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. Rick has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Historical Society, as an elected member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Rick is the author of two books, one about the history of suicide in America, the other, released in October 2019 is about kidnapping and slavery in the early United States. It’s title is Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home.
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The presentation will be offered live via Zoom with a Q&A session. All participants will receive the Zoom link one hour before the lecture to the email used during registration.