Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History with Richard Bell - Context Travel

Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History with Richard Bell

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Join an expert as we talk about all things Hamilton & 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 an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He has won more than a dozen teaching awards and has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress. He has published a number of books; his latest is "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home".

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.