tv History and Hamilton the Musical CSPAN October 25, 2016 8:45pm-10:36pm EDT
together. so thank you so much. i hope to see you at the mansion soon. i hope was this interesting as it related to hamilton and burr. so thank you guys so much. [ applause ] and i actually ended on time, yes! >> i think the plan is not to take questions up here but to head downstairs? >> yep. >> so if you have any questions, ides be happy to answer them. we'll mosey on downstairs. if you want to buy a book, buy a book and i'll sign it for you. and thanks so much, guys.
for more american history tv in primetime, join us tomorrow for our focus on the civil war and reconstruction. that starts wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on c-span3. after i came up with my idea of reproductive rights, i witness awent and researched. with information in our news, i knew i could find information on that. that would help me figure out what points i wanted to say about it and how to form my outline for my piece. >> i didn't really take a methodical approach to this process, but you could, if you wanted. but i think that really with a piece as dense as this, i would say, it's really just a process of reworking and reworking. so as i was trying to coming up with what my actual point was, i
was doing research and finding more ideas of what i could film. i'd coming up with an idea. that would be a great shot. so id'd think about that and tht would give me a new idea to focus on. i'd do research about that. it was about building on other things and scratching what doesn't work. and you just keep going until you finally get what is the finished project. >> this year's theme, your message to washington, d.c. what's the most urgent issue for the new president and congress to address in 2017? it's open to all middle school and high school students grades 6 through 12 with $100,000 awarded in cash prizes. students can work alone or in a group up to three to produce a documentary on the issue. clood some c-span programming and explore opposing opinions. the $100,000 in cash prizes will be awarded and shared between 150 students and 53 teachers. and the grand prize $5,000 will go to the student or team with
the best overall entry. this year's deadline is january 20th, 2017. so mark your calendars and help us spread the word to student filmmakers. for more information go to our website, studentcam.org. next on american history tv, the significance of "hamilton" the musical in modern popular cult purp a panel looks at the relationship between academic history and entertainment. this hour and 45-minute event was part of the society for historians of the early american republic annual conference. >> it's 2:00 p.m., and we should probably get started because i have a feeling, like the subjects of this panel, a great deal of people here have a great deal to say. and we like to do what we can to make that happen. welcome to the panel -- the second panel on hamilton.
i am r.v. bernstein. i teach at city college. and i will spare you the rest. i would like to introduce my colleagues. i'll introduce them in the order they'll be speaking. we'll be going down the row alphabetically. benjamin carp is the professor of american history and brooklyn college. he is author of defiance of the patriots, the boston tea party and the making of america. the boston tea party. and cities in the making of the american revolution. nancy eisenberg is the author of "white trash," the 400-year untold story of class in america. which is just reviewed by "the new york times" book review and "the new yorker." she's also the author of "the life of aaron burr."
a and her first book "sex and citizenship" was awarded the best book prize in she is the t. harry williams professor of american history at lsu and writes for salon tom. heather is points higher fessor and share of the department and drama and dance. she is author of early american theater from there and 1787 and 1861 and this is the best title of the three. hid warehouse characters and beautiful pagans. performing jewish identity on the antibell let me american stage. i'm looking forward to that one. also the author of many book chapters journal articles and edited volumes. andrew is professor of history
and american culture studies and is the author of fighting over the founders. how we remember the american revolution which hi the pleasure to review for american political thought and founding corporate power in early national philadelphia. he'll lead us off. >> it's the friend of a banker prized in lying eyes, a $10 man of action, head of faction -- i have a whole version that is entirely verse but i knew when i started rhyming i was going to get myself into a lot of trouble. we all confess how often we have seen the show. i have never listened to the sound track because three times was a lot and the songs remains impressed upon my memory and i also should confess that go care
that much about the so-called founding fathers. while i admire all the great work that's drawn conclusions from them they're featured actors in a broader ensemble so in other words i stand for nothing but i want to explain why i fell for the show just as some of its priethest critics did what we need to know is howell and in what way does it engage with the broader history of the revolution. it takes us through the revolutionary war the constitution and washington and adams administrations and hamilton's death in 1804 and howell does the show perform as history? some would say pretty well. he used a well researched source and consulted primary sources directly and even uses them on stage.
broadened out sometimes and consulted other historical work to get a sense of broader context while mixing in references to hip hop and musical theater et cetera, et cetera. others would say it is poor and miranda relied too heavily on him who exaggerated the antislavery credentials and sympathy with debtors. but there was little criticism when it came out in 2004 which left they poorly equipped to engage over the debate of the quality of history now. there was a debate over the hamilton exhibit that was there from 2004 to 2005 so we have been here before but i have seen few recent references to that debate either. secondly he told a story that focused on elite characters missing opportunities to show how the revolution and it's
conflicts effected and was effected by a broader swath of the population and broader and social political movements and ideological differences. and as we know you need a robust narrative through line and that demand is the gravity that keeps sucking popular narrators toward the founders and hamilton is not much of an exception in this regard. this frustrates academics that find this too simplistic for understanding history. finally he told a story with some very fierce female characters that don't in general have a lot of agency and mostly respond to what the men are doing although even here he is asking for women's equality and sequel to the declaration of independence. anyway he once said the patriot is to history as godzilla is to
biology. he said that in the times. so whatever criticisms we have it is not this generations patriots. it is better than that in it's treatment of history and it's treatment of race. sir we're not slaves. we work the land as free men. i saw that movie in london by the way. they liked the french officer. so what does this say about the revolution? we won the war. what was it for? it was about glory seeking immigrants never mind material advantages. challenging a distant tyrant t. show is designed to make the audience feel good about the righteousness of the american cause and promise of the new nation never mind the fate of the enslaved and thend the constitution was about getting the country on stable and financial and military footing never mind the rebellion in the
public theater edition of the show. overall the show serves up pretty vanilla stuff as far as this group is concerned but before the audience can look at this deeply you're swept up in the personal. it's who you would rather grab a beer with rather than policy interesting hamilton could have been more if he only lived specifically to abollish slavely but spends more time on the idea that it shapes his legacy. he had already driven himself into irrelevance and fuels my skepticism about critics that claim the show is teeting hamilton as a hero. protagonist maybe hero not as
much but we could debate that later. they are completely valid and it more of them. i'm not trying to argue it's just a show and beneath our highbrow criticism or that we shouldn't sully ourselves by engaging with it because popular culture does matter to our audiences and our students nor would i argue on the other hand that miranda somehow puts us to shame by presenting revolutionary history to a wider audience than we could because that gives him too much credit. he arrives at his achievements on our shoulders whether directly or indirectly. we can and should be able to have it both ways. take credit for what he gets right and criticizes him for what he gets wrong. but is it good history is the wrong question. we're seeing people break into
song and there's all of these references that we love. we are asked to suspend belief and, indeed, in interesting ways, right? and this is vital i think to understanding the show and since not all consider some critics haven't seen it so they don't get what's there in the lyrics or there in the songs is interacting with what the actors are doing on stage or what the visual representations are doing to enhance your multilevel understanding of what's going on in the show so what is the right question and in the same way that american jews asked of world events but is it good for the jews, right, our tribe must ask but is it good for historians and i would say yes. he was trying to earn our respect and he does deserve it and for two reasons one having to to with race and the revolution.
miranda was paying attention while they were putting the finishing touches on the show. he says we're screaming rise up and people are peeling that way. while some people are horrified there's no characters of color and instead nonwhite cast the fact that the cast members are people of color allows miranda to construct the 18th century revolution to current movements against police brutality, et cetera. an end to, to quote the show, the cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants possibly referring to the nonindictment of police officers that cause fatalities. the show has no non-white characters so does the color conscious casting solve this problem or deflect from it. it reconfigures the past to imagine a better future.
miranda can still craft a work of art that argues for racial injustice and is that real provocative or just 18th century culture. it's about class or immigration and status et cetera. it's about about time honored and he quoted the show how lucky we are to be alive right now which by itself was pretty innocuous but had important connections to the lgbt community at the end of the weekend when the massacre at the pulse night club in orlando had taken place. great theater heightens our emotional responses. and that can be good for leading audiences to an empathic of the
past. it uses imaginative interventions to fill gaps in the historical record just like we do so i'd argue the show actually enhances the public's understanding of the revolution. at the very least hamilton encourages audiences to explore historical inquiries further. during the past academic year i initiated this speaker series at brooklyn college interviewing historical fiction authors to see how they use fictional treatments no illuminate deeper truths about the revolution while reaching audiences beyond your typical history book club subscriber. so the astonishing life of octavian nothing these have black and female characters at their center telling a version of the revolution we would not
have access too. by contrast it's subjects are well-known figures but the show benefits us as we study and open up questions about how we analyze and interrupt the past. the company is saying over and over, we'll never really know what got discussed. i'm erasing myself from the narrative. let future historians wonder. you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story in two different songs. the history obliterates in every picture it paints. we're constantly trying to tell our students that history isn't just a recitation of settled facts but a lively conversation full of missing pieces, retraction and competing stories and manipulation by legacy obsessed chroniclers.
it's heaardly the only way to tl the story. it better fit what is was described as organasist. hamilton may well be an entree for some to the revolutionary era but the show strongly argues that it shouldn't be the last stop on the viewers journey. the audience should keep reading, keep learning and keep looking for inspiration for how the story might influence their world and their lives. it's up to us to carve out the spotlight and write our way out but hamilton made the worldwider for us and that's worthy of our respect. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> well, i feel like this is saturday night live so this is going to be the opposite view in a lot of ways about what he said
even though in certain points i think we do agree. my take is whether professional historians agree or not hamilton is widely praised for its historical value. jodi rosen of the new york times asserted without qualification that the musical was a rigorously factual period drama. the washington post credited historical hamilton for invisioning the united states as the federal industrial democracy we have today as opposed to jefferson's utopianism. they ignore that the not so hip constituent sy the 1% were wealthy speculators. theater lovers defend the production as a article of history. carly rose when he interviewed him for cbs insisted it was not only history but something that could and should replace all traditional historical interpretation. miranda demured but that didn't
stop rhodes. publicity for the musical centers on the biography of hamilton. the same strategy was used for john adams a television mini series that claimed to be based on the biography. it really wasn't. yet as demonstrated in articles for history news network the television production was riddled with errors. i don't remember anyone having a problem with the survey of the factual errors. that's a decree teak that you get for pointing out what i think are more serious problems. >> i see the musical as far less different than others claim it
is. he is used by political enemies and fiction writers. the plot device is extremely simple. his behavior is traced back to the loss of his parents which supposedly lead him to lose his moral compass. the lyrics are quite explicit and then he is the flip flopper that waits to see which way the wind blows it makes for good opera but the real conditions are irrelevant. he has been quite open in saying that hamilton is my man. americans have always had a knack for turning the founders into modern day heros. some call it founder chic, others myths to sustain
patriotic pride. one reason it's so popular is the powerful mixture that is channelled through hamilton ace kaerk. theater go hers treated to vigorous youth, sex appeal, macho brashness capped off by so-called genius all wrapped up in a loving portrait of hamilton that tells it like it is in the pounding nonstop rhythms of hip hop. but as we know, hamilton was far more calculating and at times could be utterly vicious. he had no love for the unwashed masses. that side never appears because it undermines what i think is still a heroic story line. as wrote to me in an e-mail, hamilton allows americans to overcome disillusionment with the founders when slavery enters the picture. though it is clear that hamilton
purchased slaves and his father-in-law owned as many as 27 slaves, his northernness is con flated with abolitionism but the slight of hand is what makes hamilton much less progressive than it appears to be at first glance. as david summed it up, it desires to offer a view but really is offering of envelope for founder chic. i would add it has more to do with contemporary politics. it's a symbol for the age of obama. listen to how nate silver writing in esquire described obama in 2009. he is the first president who was, quote, unmistakably urban. pragmatic, superior, hip, stubborn, multicultural. as everyone knows his earliest trial run performance was in the white house. as a consequence of this act of transference the historical
hamilton is given obama-like qualities pragmatic, concerned with with finances and banks and stubborn and the most farfetched of all he is a hip multiculture pop star. by this calculation if hamilton is like obama then the american dream is really possible. we also have to evaluate the medium. the world of theater relies on emotion, creating a fantasy world in which the past is wrapped up in the warm glow of illusion. it is more manipulative but more fun because the goal is not to be objective but reflesh rationally and indulge in playfulness. it invites the audience to reclaim the wonder of a child. the harsh reality of the early republic is hidden and retold as a fairy tale.
have we also forgotten 1776 so quickly. i grew up loving tap dance. i'm fairly certain but now i have been corrected we are the only two on this panel that probably took tap dance lessons. they are my favorite dancers and they still are but i never would confuse singing in the rain with an accurate history of early hollywood. i have a different take on the gender. i'm troubled by what i see as the feminism of the skyler sisters. he relocated the more credible and more genuine 18th century feminism to the more conventional skylers. the reason is fairly obvious. hamilton must always be the progressive icon. i find it dismissive to refer to
her anesthesia warming the bed. it reduces his future wife to an adulterer and mistres. it is used with sally hemmings which is merely mentioned by attacking jefferson. what could be less progressive. this fake feminism is a common pattern and it's what i call the molly pitcher syndrome. instead of talking about real feminism and 18th century feminism or describing women as they really were popular writers invent a fake heroic female character or she is given qualities she never had. abigail was learned in latin. she is not. knowledgeable enough to tell her husband how no advice his defense strategy and of course as in any hollywood show she has
to be strikingly beautiful and whitey. enough to captivate even thomas jefferson while in france. it ignores the powerful resistance when it came to treating women as intellectual equals and sanitizing the thinking of most of the founders. why do we need elizabeth katie stanton? why did it take nearly a century long campaign to secure the female vote if the problem was already solved by the founders and the hip women of their generation? i urge all to revisit hamilton report's on manufacturing in which it was quite clear that the classes to be exploited for factory workers were women and children even, quote, children of a tender age. why? because they were idol and contributed nothing of value to the economy. hamilton did anticipate our
modern industrial economy but one built on the backs of poor women and children. i ask again what could be less progressive than advocating child labor? this is why hamilton cannot be dragged into the 21st century without recognizing that it comes with some unpleasant baggage. now several scholars have talked about the racial optics. erasing the history of slavery. i would say it erases all power dynamics. race, gender and class. hamilton had no desire to challenge the existing social hierarchy. he had to marry into the family to secure his class reputation. his most powerful allies in new york are either marginalized or erased from the musical. his father-in-law and his british brother-in-law john barker church. extremely important figure to hamilton, he's not there and angelica is strangely enough
portrayed as unmarried. elite and ambitious new yorkers built family dynasties and he loved both of his sons in law more than his daughters. he needed hamilton in church and this is what drove hamilton. the musical completely fails to address his policies and ideas. how can he be a genius if his intellectual world is ignored? party differences mattered in the 1790s and 1800s and yet in the musical hamilton stands for nothing at all. if hamilton is to be the every man of the american dream then he can't be what the real hamilton was, a party man hamilton determined the outcome of the election and voted for jefferson which lead to the landslide victory and defeat.
a no named nobody that nobody cares about is the only person that had that influence and he didn't listen to hamilton. what happened to all of his underhanded efforts to defeat john adams. i find it strange that the musical calls him an orphan, but never identifies it was adams that gave him that title their messy relationship would completely undermine the noble and tragic portrait of hamilton it's absent to allow hamilton born a british subject like everyone else to be the immigrant made good. now a more accurate musical
about the experience would be a story of a french immigrant mocked for his accent and hounded by the federalist and kafted a constitutional amendment that aimed to deny immigrants the right to hold public office. and he has a statue outside the treasury building as well. historians should discuss the biases. and the critique of hbo's john adams. isn't this the critical perspective we should be teaching our students? history should be about hiss lodging misconception and not entertaining our students. and in this room they would think it's too late. the broadway hit musical is a
fictional rewriting of hamilton's life plain and simple. does that detract from its entertainment value? no, enjoy the music. laugh at the jokes. appreciates a social commentary on our current political environment. a fictional heroic hamilton and his predictable foiled burst steal the show but the historical hamilton and historical burr are there in name only. thank you. >> now for something completely different. so in this 1857 fashions and washington life political comedy, he pitts alexander hamilton against thomas jefferson as part of an argument between two roaring politicians.
one hotly defends hamilton as a mighty genius that taught the doctrine of union and consolidation and claiming it will be a gross profanity to compare hamilton to jefferson. it was the democracy that first developed and brought into action the power of the masses. while both men lement the sorry state of the rising generation of politicians also the devicive issues of race and slavery and including a slave named tom that was born in the same year that the constitution was ratified and who lingers in bond campers as a symbol of its most serious failure. the play is one of nine dramas in the first half of the 19th century from 1802 to 1864 that
envokes hamilton as a character or by reputation. obviously the usefulness persisted for more than two centuries. from the pages of john h. nickels 1802 closet drama to the broadway triumph of lin manuel miranda's hamilton, people have found it a compelling subject in part due to this outcider identity that has dogged his career and through their explorations of hamilton's life they illuminate critical moments in the nation's passionate and often painful debates about race, citizenship and belonging. i'm particularly interested in the ways in which slavery cycles in and out of these dramatic conversations and i can only begin to scratch the surface of these topics here but i hope we'll have time to explore them
in our discussions. in our study of aaron burke, history is created by the archive. citing the often lopsided treatment that certain historical figures receive based on the written record and how those materials are interpreted by generations of collars. history is also created by the repitor. the performances that are repeated and recycled is beyond what was in the written record. and they are vital in sbeg fwating our history and this is important with racial representation in history where the archive and it's critical to understanding that the revolutionary impact. and in some ways miranda's
memory project is similar to another drama featuring alexander hamilton. this one from 1864. in the prolog the playwright claims that the purpose of historical drama is to use power to give a more vivid embodiment. not to transform but to elevate and animate an enacted reality. and elevate and animate the enacted reality of slavery's history in the united states. the 19th century stage shared the same uneasy relationship with representing slavery. as many in the period. they fell into one of three categories. and disavowing violence playing tricksters and only very rarely
voicing any open anger at their enslaved status and with very few exceptions such as 1820s new york, 1850s boston, none of the slave characters were portrayed by actors of color. thus no matter what the rhetoric whether it was pro or antislavery it was voiced by white performers and taking a stand on slavery often proved dangerous for theater managers. either in the form of box office failure or physical attacks by the audience on the play house. more than two centuries after the theatrical debut, it bodies forth the complex racial identities of the post revolutionary and modern periods. creating a calculated friction between traditional presentations of our white founding fathers and the men and women on stage in the richard rogers theater on broadway.
scholar and playwright describes miranda's work as a play of mixed ancestries and hybridity in action. the theater historian observes weaving a hip hop sensibility into the fabric of the tradition means threading through afro caribbean and american musical oral visual and dance forms in practices. hamilton makes visible significance in american history in the face of a larger society. not the folks in this room that rarely recognize it. miranda's musical and his color specific not color blind casting reminds audiences that who tells your story remains the critical challenge. not only in representing but representing the history of race in early america and his hamilton invites artists and
audiences to envolkswagen the power of performance in reimagining our most familiar narratives as well as the stories of those whose lives have not been preserved in the archives. this racially conscious casting tells a story bound by race. issues of racial representation surface as we know in the first number when jefferson describes hamilton's youth in the west indies and every day while slaves are being slaughtered he struggled and kept his guard up. yet despite these inclusions, jefferson's casual request that his lamb sally open his mail, he comment what is remains audibly silent is the violet history of slavery and she doesn't fault miranda. rather she sees it as a
limitation of the genere. a challenge that faces the archive and the repitor. hamilton's early life was marked by a firsthand view of the brutal practices of the slave trade. the challenge for miranda or any artist become house to represent or represent that brutality in a theatrical form. indeed for more than a century may wrig playwrights struggled in oppression or in the words of williams wells brown to show what never can be represented about slavery. so take for example in the 20th century the america play that depicts a black abraham lincoln being assassinated over and over again in a demonic way which
presents citizens of color digging feverishly in the great hole of history, ie the archive, to unearth archive documents that might conjure their long lost or deliberately erased pasts. in another example in his award winning drama holding history, robert o'hara sends his modern day gay, black protagonist spiraling back through history to nat turners uprising to represent the stories of slaves that fought in that rebellion. and tony award winning playwright august wilson's dprks em of the ocean brings his character back to the mythical city of bones under the atlantic ocean to visit the men and the women that died during the middle passage. deaths that left no names in the archives. each of these artists has tried to imagine a way to stage the violent history of slavery and to put those stories in the mouths of non-white performers.
as john earnest argues authors of color have often been forced to tell crooked histories against dominant white narratives that repeatedly misrepresented their experiences. and in deliberately dividing syllables i question how it challenges race. he describes this as ghosting suggesting that every performance is haunted by it's predecessors or real life counter parts and hamilton conjures a stage full of ghosts in terms of the founding fathers but it also harang gets kins back to a complex narrative of the way that slavery's history has been told on stage for two centuries.
casts hamilton as coniving, of the revolution and he is the would be assassin of george washington and thomas jefferson and come police sit in the uprising. nickels describes hamilton in terms very similar to miranda's opening lines but without irony and with fear about what hamilton's identity as a potentially racially marked immigrant outcider means for the future of the new nation. in seeing hamilton as the immigrant, nickels die verges sharply from the best known example of the character on the anglo american stage. his popular drama the west indian, the show that you couldn't kill with a meat ax written in 1771 it tells the story after a west indian plantation owner coming to
london to meet his father. cumberland presents him as passionate as unrestrained. not like hamilton. he has little awareness of social niceties and literally lashes out when people refuse to make way for him in crowded streets excusing himself by saying accustomed to a land of slaves i proceeded a little too roughly to brush them away with my stick while slave characters a pier in the west indian they have neither lines nor names. they exist only to silently carry in the spoils of empire that is brought and symbols of his wealth. land of slaves foesed the american stage for decades after the revolution. the piece recognized that questions of slavery and immigration remain unresolved even after the nation had declared it's independence and created it's constitution and scores of other early national
dramas wrestled uneasily with this rhetoric of slavery and citizenship spoken in play houses that were staffed by immigrants and slaves behind the seens and also with them in the audience. white poids in brown face, black face, or red face served as surrogates from those absent on stage. much is made of his choice to represent the history with a multiracial hisself and the implications of having an african american actors play thomas jefferson and george washington. do they become new surrogates for the founding fathers? are they ghosted by their white counter parts? or can they serve to expand through their empodiment of america's complex racial history. perhaps the test will be it's tour and it's legacy. if it changes casting practices on broadway, if it changes the
questions we ask about who can body forth our history or whose stories can be represented even if they don't exist in the archive then it will indeed be a revolution. i want to close with an epilogue about the revolution from 157 years before hamilton. on march 5th, 1851 around the first anniversary of the dread scott decision and anniversary of the boston massacre, william cooper nell restaged the massacre. he did it in part to commemorate scott and in part to protest a recent ruling by local boston authorities that they could not declare him the first victim of the american revolution. the restaging of the massacre used all black performers to protest the history of the revolution. it also forecast a day when
actors of color might rise up and claim their true rights and privileges. in that nell resembles miranda and he became a playwright because there were no parts for me. they have literally and figuratively written themselves into the archive and the repitore. thanks. [ applause ] >> so heather, you put this in -- put hamilton in a longer i don't know hodge cal context and i'm going to put it more in a, in a much more contemporary context thinking about other similar productions that are a lot more similar than maybe we realize about hamilton, recently the american public as a lot of us know has become increasingly enamored of stories but it fits
within an emerging entertainment genere that makes sense for the cultural industry whether in hollywood or new york or broadway in particular and for anxious u. s. audiences at this particular cultural moment. we already know the out lines of the story and the setting. there are heros with recognizable qualities. washington adams, franklin but in distinct and detail in public imagination so writers can play with them. the villains are british so as to minimize the possibility of public relations blow back nobody likes slavery. the true brutality of which still is never shown which of course is the reason why the patriots set in south carolina could only be produced in a way that was historically absurd an women can be strong characters while still standing by their men. plus wigs, corsets, breeches, and by the way, i used to work at colonial williamsburg and i do look great in breeches so if there's any casting people, i
thought i would mention. this is my moment. but and of course we already know the outcome of the american rev hugs or at least we think we do. but there remains plenty of leeway for individual stories to parallel the broader historical events. and marketed successfully and appeal to audiences and be broad enough to allow for invention and provide interesting counter point. and because the popularity and prevalence of these productions they also provide the plotting through which the general public will increasingly under the american founding and today i'll talk about three general elements that these productions share where hamilton fits in all of this and why it's important. now for the sake of brevity i'm
not going to wait until the debate concerning what constitutes and genere and how that works because that's an entire sub field of academic inquiry. rather i'll use a definition by the film critic that suggests we should think of generes as sets of conventions. culturally and historically contingent and that whether they're movies or television series or in this case a musical are spaces that allow for engageme engagement. it's not just a category we can put things in but a particular time and place that say a movie or novel or musical is both shaped by and perhaps shapes. hamilton's commonality with and stage depictions of the american revolution indicate that it's
creators were more than aware of these conventions and subsequent shows will be made and watched with these conventions and hamilton in mind. so just to talk about some of these and over the last 15 years and especially since 2010, roughly 1770s through 1800 has become a setting for a lot of big budget and prominent production for film and television that played with these conventions so i'll go through some of them or most of them in chronological order and you'll probably be familiar with a lot of these. the crossing, the patriot, liberties kids, benedict arnold, felicity an american girl's adventure. that went straight to dvd. i know you have that at home everybody. john adams, turn washington spies. sons of liberty, book of negros, she
sleepy hollow a hill pit and of course hamilton, right? and my argument today about the rece recent coalesce doesn't procollude our thinking about these earlier thinking of belonging although they may have thought of them differently. perhaps as history films. the sail way that many films of the late 1940s at the time were considered mellow dramas or detective or mystery or crime movies and only later were they thought and sort of about and lumped more broadly so things can come out earlier and still fit and effect those conventions and how people write about them and remake them. so here i'm going to talk about three major conventions. first, patriotism is the protaggist position of course
and it's assumed of all angelo americans, right? the good guys are indeed what american culture has coded as good guys. hetero sexual white men. markers of british deviance include cowardess of feminism and brutality. they're painting them as being deviant, right? it consists of a personal libertarian view of freedom. let me take a survey here. who is for liberty? good. okay. you're already with the protagonist so that's easily explained on screen. that's it. the character becomes a patriot he does so in retox british violence against people and property. why? that's easy to portray quickly and easy to understand. even in the case, you brought up john adams. think of that series.
when he sees the aftermath of the violence in lexington and concord. it's not intellectual at all. it's i see violence, bad. also here we can be mindful so for example alexander rose who is the author of washington spies and a consultant to the show says history is complex and drama is simple. you know, you have to find short hands to convey a lot of information visually and quickly and third and finally in american revolution productions resolution of conflict comes through unanimity among americans resulting from the expulsion of the deviant opposition. so in other words just as the central tension is the use of violence to establish order or in romantic comedies and independence to traditional
monogamy and loyalty over law in american revolution productions it's about the establishment of american consensus through exclusion. and hamilton gauges with all three of these in ways that confirm and to some extingt in term of my convention that are the protagonists and several places but you can think of a song when they say that they are reliable with the ladies, right and they're contrasting favorably against king george who more plays the queen, right? and with a high pitched fearful samuel seeburg. the opposition cowardly brutal and in terms of the second convention that the heros for fight libertarian strain of
freedom. with other examples of the genere all either embrace abbigs or remain silent. you can think of productions in american revolution recently in which that's true. and civic lesson from a slaifr and about his death and could have tun so much more. i don't know why you take issue with that because he actually did almost nothing when he was alive so he could have done a lot more. maybe that's just a valid statement. it's a third convention i suggest the establishment of united nation a united states through the exclusion of others that hamilton has played with in to notable ways and generated the conversation.
it's a definition of who is included and who is not and it's intentional casting people of color and using hip hop to defy any suggestion of genere and notwithstanding their inclusion of course masks hamilton's otherwise very conventional story lines. if you watch this he actually got -- he introduced it as somebody that embodies hip hop. secretary alexander hamilton. why is that funny. and that's how generes work through these conventions that allow for quick recognition and
surprise. i want to talk about the various critics and more direct and israel reid in his piece and black actors dress up like slave traders and it's not halloween and that sums up a good deal of his position that hamilton's casting of people of color merely provides his color and the revolution and we talked about that and i don't disagree with that at all but i also think we shouldn't entirely discount the effect that hamilton's casting has had on its extremely diverse audiences. the cast albums on precedented sales success and was number one on the billboard rap chart for awhile and countless match ups and appearing there as television shows magazines and
anyone who has anyone -- anyone who has -- how many people or parents of adolescence in this room. so you heard it and it allows them to see themselves as belonging to the founding and vice versa. similarly hamilton's a historical emphasis on hamilton and the pride in their nonnative status and they say immigrants. we get the job done brings immigrants into the founding again. this is a big debate for example. i don't know in your familiar with liberties kid which is is a pbs show and that's a big debate. how do we show a founding for kids that don't see themselves in the founding. >> it's a serious question to
grapple with. and i completely agree with critics is that a lot of it is devoid of the actual issues right in the debate but at least in some way trivializing it but admits that americans did have is that familiar path by all the popular depictions of the founders getting audiences this on which to rely at the same time defies a few of the conventions. i'm not talking to create a category where we can say there's a founders film. we just put nit there but to to
think of it as an emerging category of cultural productions that very much condition how the general public perceives the founding period. and i think, i think that we're going to see a hot more of these productions because of course the cultural industry is very much copy cat industry. something successful. we make more of them and people will watch them and why? because people can see a 15 second preview and know what that story is going to be about. and i think it should be of great interest to us as and these current characters settings and in general public perceives what the founding was about and what it means. and we all brought up how
visceral the connections that these create in people's minds that these impressions are far more memorable than most of what the public -- in some point of view. even mine. there's even been research showing that a history film of students and the professor will say all of these things are wrong about it and they remember what they saw and as you know. also just important for us as citizens and as residents of the united states when people see the founding on screen or on
stage they project that on to their ideal vision of our society and how it should work and who belongs and almost another big national meeting almost as important as ours going on in cleveland recently as we can see from today's politics those questions, especially who pedestrians longs and how we engage in conversation are still at the heart of what we debate about the american revolution and our current american politics. thank you. >> i'm going to come in for just a few minutes and i'm going to begin with the question that all of these pose, what should we take about films based on but veering from history like hamilt
hamilton. and leave them to ponder them and to struggle to find contrast and comalties among them. i was talking with one of my colleagues and he told me simple, when you watch a play you have to decide what your mind set is. if you seek entertainment you see that if you're going to assess it as history that's a different matter. that's a nice approach but i think it misses what some see. i think a lot of us in this room see as a danger. does a place fictionalizing of history impose on non-historians a way to see that history? eclipsing historical scholarship, they dpating whatever good we do. i'll give you one example not from our field. i know historians that still go ballistic claiming it whitewashes thomas moore and there's other historians that hate wolf hall because it
demonizes thomas moore and whitewashes thomas cromwell. i can't resolve that one. i agree with your criticisms in general, the criticisms of these works and some of our colleagues who too readily ignore the flaws and works of entertainment claiming to present history. i, too, think that we must be more vigilant about the resorting distortions of the past. in particular of all too frequent tendency to turn it into contemporary heroes. i do admit, however, that i find
hamilton with barack obama more ingenuo ingenuous. one thing really does worry me. like a soccer referee wielding a red cart to drive somebody from the field, he warns popularizes the field of history. yet for centuries, novelestisis including such people have appropriated history for some of the most interesting work. given the evident blt, aren't such absolute bands and impossible goals, if they are, what do we do about them, no play or field can capture the complexity of history. as my friend, the documentary screen writer taught me, a standard, standardly format script for a 90 minute film is about 100 plus pages you can't cover any fully in that sort of
space. of course who wrote, however can capture any subject forward. but we don't stop writing books, nor we'll stop writing plays and movie screens. so if we do not just reject hamilton, what do we do with it, how do we assess it fairly without asking too much of it. writing is a historian exploring culture uses and abuses of history andrew, hamilton, evolving of film television and dramatic productions of the revolution, he argues the three conventions help to drive that genre. patriotism yolking decent americans, even perspective, the version of liberty and freedom reacting to bad things by people trying to deny that freedom, that bind americans to the good cause. and -- excluding those bad things as the critical factor in
victory of that good cause. and yet argues, hamilton also challenges some of these conventions, reshaping them even while affirming. the place fascinating mix of challenging affirmation of forcing us to think about, for example, who gets to claim inclusion of the story of the revolution and divisions among them does much to explain its power and influence. benjamin's paper resinates with it, writing is a historian of the development, he seeks to context -- assessing what he gets right and what he gets wrong. he stresses its addressing of issues of race and revolution in today's -- and he cites its open invitations to its audience to engage in arguments about what stories to tell about the revolution, whose stories to tell and what forms these stories take. as he says, the play itself teaches that hamilton should not be, and i quote, the last stop
on the viewer's journey. now, again, we turn to something completely different, any chance to invoke was good. especially when they play with history. an expert on drama and the history of american theater, the situation in the context of a rich startling history of 19th century plays about the american founding and their uses of race. and one of her many points about the story she tells so well, she points out that so with so many critics have seen about new challenges, actually previous works from a previous century or too, a call for for example one i wish i had been there to see, the 1858 of boston organized by william cooper reenacting the boston massacre with an all black cast, don't you just wish you could have seen that. nathan's remarkable paper reminds us that the question asked by hamilton's closing song who lives, who dies, who tells
your story, resinates with many traumatic attempts to grapple with the issue whose resolution it really is. now i'm going trespassing, while paralleling themes of the paper byizenburg. i propose another way of understanding hamilton, invoking a different precursor. drama's best reshape for history, williams shakespeare. i argue that we should see hamilton, as what i call shakespeare history, think about juli julius sei julius caesar for a second and include such ak kro nichls. but what works is history is his place human core, the dying roman republic, and porsche struggling to navigate political over which they have no control, senator assassins desperately seeking to restore the republic that their victim, caesar, ends
the cold who replaced republic with an empire. hamilton, too, i submit, is firmly grounded in his human core, presenting it skillfully. the selfishness and self destructiveness. bears political and psychological complexity. the virginia a ris -- the sisters and the quest to become part of the narrative in a male political world. and georgia washington's nobility and insight. in the world of hamilton, politics is a human pursuit, shaping and reflecting its participants human reality. hamilton also teaches that politics is and must be hard work. valuable lesson that we need now more than ever. so its sketch of the complex politics of the 17 t 0s cannot meet the tests of modern
scholarship, because many it seems right. i would like to invoke in this connection, the song one last time, which may not present fully the partisan realities unguarding washington's farewell address. the kwan drink facing george washington as the leader of the revolution who knows that he must step aside from power and figures out a way to do so. if i conclude, as i do, that we need not worry too much about hamilton's reshaping of history, why not. i submit we need not worry because we need not worry about our students who kindly accepting a play as historical reality. in my experience, students in middle schools, high schools and colleges are fascinated not just by the play, but by the history on which it draws, they're not content to settle for the story of hamilton, they want to know the stories giving rise to the story. this play has spurred their desire to learn, as generation before, the play 1776 did.
growing out of that reality in today's classrooms is the likely impact of hamilton on our profession's future, again, like the impact of 1776. that earlier plague drew many of us, including me, to the history of the revolution and early republic. 10 to 20 years from now, maybe even sooner, we may see a similar influx into our profession of young scholars who saw and listen to hamilton and never got over it. if those of us 1776 drew into this have done some good in our writing and teaching, maybe our field will also benefit from by products of that remarkable contemporary version of shakespeare history, hamilton, thank you. >> so given that this is a round table, i think we hope to square
a rectangular rectangle, we should talk amongst ourselves and figure out what we want to say to each other tone lighten you, once we do that, we will open up to questions and this gentleman holding a microphone has got the microphone and please do not answer the question, to that extent, we're going to emulate that awful show survivor. so, anybody want to start. >> go for it. >> i'm happy to throw it up into the audience. >> does anyone just want to throw it up into the audience, then we'll see what happens. >> okay. let's try that. does anybody want to ask a question? i see one man who is -- southern methodist university, off what you had to say in terms of
shakes sphere, and i want to do it in this context. i taught westerns and i always taught them as commentary ris, they got it right is completely irrelevant and in that context, in that sense i would like to hamilton into a context. you mentioned the book of any grows and i found -- i've been horrified to find that who list through the revolution period, i discovered it when i was writing my own book on that subject and i have been scooped by a novelist. my point is that book is just powerful to me as hamilton and it's accurate. because hamilton takes its place along with that and along with the other things you mentioned and along with paris and revolution, in terms of a larger
discussion of both revolution and race in this country. so i will like to locate the play in the context, first of all, of what larry hill does, but secondly in terms of the hollywood films that are trying to address this and on that sense i want to call everybody's attention, please, to birth of a nation, not the one about the klu klux klan, but the one about south hampton county virginia in 1831, which will be released, it will be released in the -- and i encourage everybody to see it and i encourage everybody who is interested to see who don't have to say, thanks. >> i will just like to respond very briefly and say that in some ways, what you're saying also references a film that we all saw, i think, and a book that many of us have read, that's 12 years of slave. and i remember, also, one of the most horrifying things about the response to that play and that book and that movie, and that
was the comment by certain right wing commentators that this was just ignorable because all it is is slavery form. and i had no idea what slavery, i still don't know. i read that article three or four times and i finally realize that all it was saying was, i don't want to know the truth about slavely, this confronts me, so it makes me feel ickey. well, fine. we have to feel ickey. and we want our students to feel ickey about this. anybody else? >> i both agree and disagree or i have several thoughts, i guess. and that's -- i see it may be as more of a continuum of memory with maybe, you know, disciplinary history at one end and all of these other things. it may be some films are, you know, more -- are trying to capture some sort of memory and some not, so we think of -- so,
for example, i think hamilton is, at least, attempting sort of to wrestle with memory and we may or may not agree with how it does that as opposed to something -- i don't know if any of you seen sons of liberty, so sons of liberty, you can learn all you need to know about it by hair, one, is it shows franklin in the 1770s and even then, they're showing a bald and with stringy hair, why do they do that, it's because that's what we recognize as audiences, right. it doesn't care what it looked like. the other is, they start out with -- it's been -- the guy who plays sam adams, right. in the first shot, you see him what the beautifully, you know, manicured like skruf and everything and he's playing -- and he's, what, 32 when that was shot. and, you know, and so this beautifully manicured chin.
for those of you who have seen the portrait of samuel adams, he didn't have a manicured chin, he had two or three chins under it. yeah, but, i mean, so some of these things i totally agree with you, there, there are a lot of our really about the present, some of them, i think, they do take it. i think it's -- i think it's sort of a con tomb in yu contin maybe. >> i'm not going to pick it up and throw it. the word prothpheticrophetic. >> ben used prophetic. >> i'm sorry. >> you used it well, i should have looked at my notes. i was intrigued that you used that, that's a tradition that starts again, very immediately after the revolution in american
drama, they start prophe prophe they're continuing forecasting this idealized future and they're using their own history -- they go back and reinvent to try to show you, the seeds were always there. >> and it's not just there. john adams writing letters back and forth, at least twice -- thank you. i hope that works. it may be prophesy, but this team of prophesy, everywhere. >> isn't this part of the problem. this is religious notions with historical notions and i think part of the problem the seeds being planted that we assume it's going to be gradual release
of these virtues that trace back to the founders and it's narrative that we like, because we want to assume the evolution of progress, when, in fact, our history discounts that, even in the basic rule of suffer aj, it's not a gradual expansion of the right. so part of the problem is exactly what you're talking about, shakes sphepeare history nobody calls it history. we call it literature. but the other thing is just to think about how these powerful narratives, eclipse important elements that we as historians spend time recovering, talking about, have to be part of the narrative. and the power, there's no doubt, the power of the drama is about the time casting, is about the music, is about getting people to believe in something, yes, but is it what we want people to believe. i mean, the question i'll ask in hamilton, does it inspire us to go out and change the world.
>> they'll inspire people to take a political stance. we can assume that the musical encompasses everything that we wanted to that it embodies certain political values that we -- some of us here, obviously, like it. that's fine. but i think we have to always stay on our critical edge because popular culture is about diminishing a more radical political perspective in a lot of ways. particularly when it becomes widely popular, we know, different people have different interpretatio interpretations, it can be interpreted conservative way and comforting way, to me, that's a
frob. -- that's a problem. we shouldn't feel comfortable about the pass and we should want to have a narrative that provokes us. i think race is very important. i don't want to diminish class and gender, which always seems to get thrown out the window. that should be part of the discussion as well. and we talk about politics and power. >> so if i can feedback on what you were saying, it feels to me like there are moments in hamilton where he is stepping outside and critiquing and i wonder to what extent those moments are legible to all audiences and to what extent people just assume that's cool, because now we're use to people breaking the frame, posing a question and hopping back in the frame. and, you know, the idea is that we query, we agitate, you should leave the theater ready to do something rather than go, that was nice. and i'm humming it.
so i think he is working with that. it may be that one subsumes the other, depending on the perspecti perspective, or overwhelmed it entirely. >> there's a really brilliant movie on lawrence stern that does that. i can't remember the title. it's brilliant, it's about a play within a larger story. it's all about the engagement of creating the story, the engagement of the actors, this problem of talking to the audience and it's really -- of course, it's british. very effective critique of this dynamic. i think this is an important dynamic to talk about the production of meeting. i think there are gestures of it, but not enough, you have to actually -- you have to deconstruct the myths that you have celebrated here. i think it's a se se cell -- sei
have not seen the musical, but i understand that a significant portion of it is a love story that involves, reynolds and those types of things and that's one of the levels on which it works as a musical story. i'm interested in that aspect and how it interfaces with history. my reading is of hamilton, person, is that he was a profoundly emotional man for whom emotion was a significant driver of his actions. and i'm curious, that issue has been left largely on the table, both by this panel and last night's panel. it's kind of lurking under the sub text. but what about the emotional history of the revolution period and the early republic. why did -- why and how did
people fall in love, express their love. how did it manifest themselves in their lives. were they, in fact, motivated to action by the site of violence, how and why is that accurate. why are we leaving that issue on the table. >> i think that can get very tricky because, of course, then our understanding of what love means and what people's understanding of what love means, it takes a lot of effort to translate that or honor or, you know, anything else -- it's so easy to quote from -- you know, it's interesting, right. miranda talks about the people who write to him about trying to ship a relationship between hamilton and all the things that modern audiences want to kind of read back because they don't quite get it, how the people of the 18th century are using some of that emotional language. and so i think that would take a
lot of hard work to translate for 21th century audience how 18th century people are experiencing certain emotions. i'm evading the specifics of what you're talking about because i don't care. you're asking an interesting -- you're asking more interesting question, i think, about how we or an audience can recapture the emotional landscapes i think that's recapturing the politics or recapturing a whole host of other issues and i think that's what they're trying to work on these days. >> there's one emotion, i think, just to answer quickly, that the play does try to address and that's not fear, is this going to work. is this experiment going to fail. why are you opposed to me. you're going to ruin everything. no, you're going to ruin everything. and it's one of the -- >> that's what the 1790s are all about. >> that's about how the country is going to explode. >> the failure of this dream, whatever it may be. and different understandings of
what that dream should be. in certain ways the play does get it, that very important emotionally reality and left my students asking about it, wanting to explore it. i'm not sure how to explore the one you're talking about because, frankly, i'm puzzled by it and i want to keep thinking about it. >> one of the things we focused on the most, though, in con temporary america, and that will variy a lot by the audiences that attend and see it. i saw it and i was, you know, surrounded by affluence white crowd to be really interesting to see how the play is different when the audience is, public
city school kids. and i was really struck about how the play can change with different context of seeing another musical recently, the book of mormon, which i had a few more drinks is i might argue historically accurate than hamilton. but, really, offensive in so many ways. so central part of that musical is about orlando. we saw it, like two days after horrible events. and when orlando is celebrating is this place, it just gave me chills. i mean, i sensed in the audience and cast, that the play -- it wasn't completely transformed but it meant something different from its meaning two weeks ago. so that's really all about -- and i think that makes it really interesting and it makes drama, particularly, volatile genre because it's not fixed, the
performance matters. it's effecting. but my question is, you know, where does history fit into that. what we see often historical uses of the past. so often, and one of the things that we as historians use to do, is re -- hold, you know, all kind of culture makers responsible. so the question, really, i mean, i would be really interested in efrlg that's been said today and yesterday. but, you know, can we get a little bit more precise, maybe, about how history really should intervene, can we do it better, you know, than miranda has done it. you know, we celebrate his artistic genius and so forth. could we be more precise where historians can intervene so the culture and political work that's being done that we might
approve of, nonetheless is historically accurate and grounded can we infuse the stories that are doing good with a little bit more say integrity. >> we're not doing to have control over that because some artists are going to check with us before they go out into the world. >> i'm starting a kick starter campaign, everyone put in a thousand bucks and we'll get our own musical. >> but my question is about the do min c dominincan. >> he's puerto ricoian. >> i've seen the play, but i'm a little old for the hip-hop style, so i didn't quite get it.
but i was wondering about the particular -- excuse me, caribbean nature of this work, that it may have a lot less to do with the history of alexander hamilton and the history of american revolution and with more to do with how people of color from the caribbean fit into the united states because, i mean, black americans will simply, like myself, willing to be black americans, but caribbean people have a different identity when they come to the united states, in fact become black when they come into the united states in most instances. >> this came up during the preliminary session. >> miranda has said that the play is more auto biographical than historical. i think that's a part of and -- and this is this issue that i'm trying to raise again. where are we drawing the line between fiction and nonfiction. why is it we can't embrace the fact that fiction is fiction and that it's -- it tells a good story, it's powerful.
people respond to it differently. but i think this is more about what andrew is talking about, there's a political agenda about marketing and publicity that wants to give it the label of history that's part of the appeal. when people go to see it, they're expecting to get history. the hbo, you remember, someone changed the wikipedia entry because they had watched the john adams hbo and they had learned the truth. i got e-mails from people who say, oh, well i saw miranda and -- i don't need to learn anything else. so i know it's nice to be optimistic and think it's going to take us down the road to greater historical knowledge and inquiry but that's not inevitable. the power of politics of hollywood are not about embracing history. >> i'm from the new york stark society. and one thing that came up in last night's panel, we concluded
that miranda wouldn't really have the opportunity to revise his work, but what you can look at his revisions is what he left out from the public theater production and the broadway production and as ben mentioned, the whisky pavilion. correct me if i'm wrong, my recollection is that that song, one last time -- >> yeah. >> was sung as hamilton and washington are putting on their uniforms for one last time to put down a rebellion by fellow americans. >> yeah. >> and i think that's what gets left out, so i'm just -- >> at the talk back, so when i saw on broadway for the first time because i had seen it twice before, i had seen it as one last ride twice. it was one of the things that miranda talked at the talk back session. and he said one of the problems was that he was kind of losing the audience's attention span at that song.
they weren't kind of following along with him. i don't want to mischaracterize it, that was my recollection. and it's -- it is sort of too bad because it did show another dement dementia, oh, wait, that's why -- dimension, that's how they now think about the revolutionary tradition, you know, like they're on the other side. so it is kind of too bad. in the name of the song is different. it's one last ride in the public theater and then it became one last time and became more about the farewell address and stuff like that. >> isn't that a perfect example of the way the play systematically privileges emotion and relationships over political issues. so a completely federalist version of the whisky rebellion, wouldn't be cool to pretend it was the same way of seeing it as they're the ones in the revolution, you can't imagine that anyone would ever think that and that's the case, again
and again and again and it's the federalist point of view. and this is -- i mean, i don't think that this -- after what ryan said last night. i wonder if maybe we need to go back, because it's -- and that made the point that the play is bringing this interpretation we've been trying to kill. i think some of us have not been trying to kill it. i think some of us have given us a second light through this production and it's got all those attributes that some of us criticize going on 15 to 20 years ago. i'll just -- for those of us who were too young to remember, when i -- let me just -- i've got four things that i've -- i'll go quickly as possible so we're all on the same page. so -- but what you'll see is, a lot of the same things you've been talking about. i think they all reinforce each
other particularly well. number one is -- but number two, it's the -- founders in that made this very clear last night and it gives a needle federalist interpretation of every aspect of this 1790s. and it's -- the privileging of character and personality over political issues and content is tied to focus on the questions of leadership and the looking at thingsperspective. the fourth thing, is this idea that these good founders were anti-slavery and they would have done more, so it's brought up in the very first seen that hamilton imagine themselves as anti-slavery freedom fighters and they get some to be the black soldiers as opposed to
those being the dunn's war. and the character here, for something real going on there for us. and then in the end, as we've heard, we -- and saying could have done more, and the -- that idea -- i mean, all this is straight out of joe ellis, the anti-slavery, is the crown jewel, the jewel and founding fathers and founding brothers the idea that hamilton versus jefferson encapsulates the entire political history and the real drama with what went on between them, not constituencies, not all the other things at policies that most of us had been writing about and emphasizing. so, you know, like ben and i have been going back and forth about this for months and months and months. but the key moment, i've got to ask you about, when he said i don't care about the founders,
you gave it away, you don't really care. ben cares about everything else about history. i don't know this. >> no, he didn't care that much. >> yeah. >> i still care. >> i'm the only person at the table who doesn't happen in the name of the founder or the book that they published. >> it's true. >> i was just -- i would like to say one other thing. actually two things, one is this joe ellis, please. >> are we going to not take him seriously. >> no, i don't take him seriously any more. >> i don't take him seriously for years. >> i didn't say -- david, please. i didn't say -- well, miranda seriously. but i -- no, i did not. i certainly do not take joe ellis seriously. i had to read the quartet and caused him great pain. i had to say so, but i said it.
>> now -- >> it's a bad book. precisely because it does what it shouldn't do. it reduces everything to the foreground founding guys and that's wrong. that's misleading. it's bad history. i am not prepared to say that we should avoid the founder's cul-de-s cul-de-sac, that phrase is going to haunt me the rest of my career, i know that. but i also don't think that we -- i don't think that we should be plastering campaign buttons or bumper stickers on our books. i'm not for them. i'm not against them. i found them interesting. i try to see them in context. good scholarship of the sort that we want to encourage does that. we try to introduce that to our students. whenever i teach about this stuff, i mention hamilton, i wonder, look, this is a play, this is not history.
this is new terms of now we've moved on and it's going to keep happening. we have to engage and we have to actually teach the lessons that are distinguished with real historians do as opposed to popular culture, our knowledge matters and we have to defend it. >> so if i can jump on that, i want to make a distinction between hollywood and broadway because while miranda is extraordinarily powerful and popular and it may be made into a movie. it's making it into a movie is going to put it in a way and change it in a way that we'll
have a profound effect on it. i don't know who remembers rent. so. >> changed it. so it wasn't as successful so there was something that was contingent about the liveness of it and the fact that it would change from night to night, whether you had a tragedy that would reshape it, for example, those of you who saw the tonys and they remembered that they took the guns out of the performance, the hamilton performance because they didn't want to put that on stage. there's a profound change in the way it's being staged that's contingent on historical moment. so i think the broadway liveness
where the power brokers are going to tell us what it meant and so we have to contend with that, as well. yes, we may be. >> what nobody has mentioned, they didn't mention it last night and nobody here really mentioned it either, the play doesn't end with alexander hamilton, the play ends -- it ends with a list of the accomplishments and all the things she did.
i kind of woonder, why don't we ever bring that up. why -- i know a lot of us -- but why don't we kind of pay attention to the fact that this play is about more than one hamilton. it's about also what she does at the end of it. i have not had the privilege to see the show. i know the people that have had to have the idea, she looks and they're not sure if it's because she's seeing hamilton or she's seeing the audience and realizing his story has been told. i guess i'm wondering -- >> because turn out really wants to turn elizabeth skyler into nancy reagan and she's also the hamilton family or part of the production of creating the memory of hamilton. in fact, very effective, as we know, some founders have good people who preserve their papers, preserve -- recreate their identity and hamilton is quite skilled in that.
and elizabeth skyler hamilton was in the forefront of playing that role, which is a traditional role of women, protecting the reputations of their dead husbands, dead soldiers, the dead family honor, the dead family legacy. >> and i completely agree. i will just add to that, it's partly because the way i read it is, it's still really about him. i mean, they want -- i mean, they sort of want to make it about her. it's still really about him and how his memory will be preserved, how he could have done so much more. and it's a beautiful poignant song about how when she sees the or fan she's helping him reminds, she sees their eyes. i mean, it's a beautiful song, but it's still about him. i mean, to me that's how it functions in the musical. >> we've run out of time. >> oh, i'm sorry. >> so i want to thank everybody