Episode 98: Hamilton

But over the past few months, Hamilton critics have come out of the woodwork. In February, performance studies scholar James McMaster, writing for HowlRound, pointed out how completely the show fails to pass the Bechdel test. In March, writer Gene Demby, a huge fan of the musical, wondered on NPR’s Code Switch why its audience is so resoundingly white. A week later, historian Nancy Isenberg, writing for Zócalo Public Square, cautioned audiences not to look to the musical for historical accuracy.
— Rebecca Onion, Slate, April 5, 2016.
The show, for all its redemptive and smart aspects, is part of this ‘Founders Chic’ phenomenon,’ said David Waldstreicher, a historian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York who last September sounded an early note of skepticism on The Junto, a group blog about early American history. Amid all the enthusiasm for ‘Hamilton’ the musical, he added, Hamilton the man “has gotten a free pass.
— David Waldstreicher, speaking to Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times, April 10, 2019

Of all Broadway shows in recent memory, none has been so critically-acclaimed, insightful and as culturally relevant as Hamilton. Written in a passionate 6 years by Lin Manuel-Miranda, who also plays the lead, the musical tells the story of a lesser-known Founding Father. At a critical time in United States politics today, how do our current political landscape and patriotic sentiments reflect the life and times of the industrious, brilliant and orphaned architect of many systems still in place? This week we welcome Megan Carr to analyze some of the lyrical, social and historical complexity. What does the show's popularity say about our interests today? How do we respond to a racially diverse cast which leaves out prominent figures of color in the American Revolution? How are women characterized and described within the musical? How is Alexander Hamilton portrayed as a heroic protagonist and in what ways is his story altered to reflect a potentially idealized narrative? And in what ways has the musical shed light on the means by which we teach and tell history?

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