The Revolutionary Rhetoric of Hamilton analyzes traditional conceptions about the musical, Hamilton, American history, and current political disputes. This scholarly exploration of Hamilton encourages audiences to interpret this popular cultural force in a new way by revealing that the musical confronts conventional conceptions of American history, racial equity, and political power. Several chapters in this volume directly address recent controversies and conversations surrounding Hamilton, including the #CancelHamilton trend on social media, the musical’s depiction of slavery, and its intersections with the Black Lives Matter movement. Contributors explore how the musical offers social commentary on issues such as immigration and gender equity and how Hamilton re-considers the roles of theatre in making social statements, especially relating to the narrator, the role of the curtain speech, and musical traditions. Chapters within the book employ multiple novel theoretical approaches and perspectives—including public memory, feminist rhetorical criticism, disability studies, and sound studies—to reveal new insights about this beloved show. Scholars of theatre studies, media studies, and communication studies will find this book particularly useful.
Luke Winslow is assistant professor of rhetorical studies in the Department of Communication at Baylor University.
Nancy J. Legge is professor in the Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion at Idaho State University.
Jacob Justice is assistant professor of speech communication and the director of forensics in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi.
Introduction: Turning the World Upside Down
Nancy J. Legge, Jacob Justice, and Luke Winslow
Section I: Revelations About History
Talya Peri Slaw and Jacob Justice
Jessica L. Gehrke
Nancy J. Legge
Sarah Mayberry Scott
Section II: Revelations About Race
5Casting as a Rhetorical Act: Color-Purposeful Casting and Hamilton’s Anti-White
Ailea G. Merriam-Pigg
6Hamilton’s Revolutionary Aesthetic: Race, Hip hop, and the American Style
Luke Winslow and Jonathan Veal
7Hamilton, Social Revolution, and the Black Lives Matter Movement
Caleb George Hubbard
Section III: Revelations About Socio-Political Issues
8Immigrants: Getting the Job Done Then and Now
Judith P. Roberts
9The Sphere Where it Happens: Reading Hamilton’s Representations of the Public/Private
Sphere as Gendered, Restraining, and Revolutionary
Erika M. Thomas
Section IV: Revelations About Broadway
10Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells the Story: Hip-Hope, Antagonist-Narrators, and the
Impact of Musical Genre on Storytelling
Max Dosser and Kevin Pabst
11Aaron Burr vs. Mike Pence: Curtain Speeches and Controversy
12Hamilton and the Genre of the Politicized Broadway Musical: Following the Rhetorical Tradition, Twisting the Rhetorical Tradition
Theodore F. Sheckels
About the Authors
"This wide ranging study integrates a number of important areas of study: popular culture, American history, and musical theatre among others. It uses connections among those disciplines to show some important ways in which political issues that engross our country are being handled rhetorically through cultural artifacts. This is an important, integrative book."
"The Revolutionary Rhetoric of Hamilton is an indispensable resource for understanding the multiple important messages in the greatest musical of our time, Hamilton. In revealing the meaning of Hamilton, the chapters in the book also reveal a great deal about historical and contemporary popular and political culture."
“This edited collection grounds its chapters in a larger argument about the importance of rhetoric and popular culture. It is essential reading for those interested in history, politics, identity, and entertainment, and makes an important contribution especially to the ongoing work on one of Broadway’s biggest hits.”