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Virtual Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History
July 28, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
America 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 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’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 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 PhD from Harvard University and is author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home. He has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. He 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 Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
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