Innovative New Courses on Hamilton at Northwestern

“Courses coming on Hamilton, the man and the musical” at Northwestern University

Hilary Hurd Anyaso writes for Northwestern.

EVANSTON – “Hamilton: An American Musical,” smashing through traditional theater boundaries with its must-see contemporary telling of a history lesson about an unlikely founding father, is the subject of two new Northwestern University courses that will begin in winter quarter.

The Northwestern professors who created and will be involved in the teaching of the two courses hope students will not “throw away their shot” to learn about the life and times of Alexander Hamilton and the groundbreaking hip hop-inspired musical.

“Hamilton’s America” will be taught by history professors Geraldo Cadava and Caitlin Fitz, who will explore Hamilton the man as well as “Hamilton” the musical, attempting to account for its extraordinary contemporary resonance.

“Why has this past person’s life inspired such interest today, in a nation that looks so different from the one that Hamilton and his enemies knew?” asked Cadava, associate professor of history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “But the important point isn’t about Hamilton himself, but about the power of history to shape and reshape the world we live in today.”

“Hamilton: Bullets, Banks, and Broadway,” an interdisciplinary course, will be taught by legal studies professors Laura Beth Nielsen and Joanna Grisinger, with the help of faculty from theatre, African American Studies, communication, political science, School of Education and Social Policy, English and history.

“I want to use this as a moment to showcase some of the extraordinary faculty on the Evanston campus,” said Nielsen, director of the Legal Studies program and professor of sociology in Weinberg.

“Students, for example, who otherwise might not have taken a class from Harvey Young [theatre] or David Figlio [School of Education and Social Policy] or Caitlin Fitz [history], will have the opportunity to see not just how their different disciplines approach the task of decoding ‘Hamilton,’ but also how other professors actually do that in the classroom.”

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