Does Hamilton get Hamilton Right?

Ralph Nurnberger
Drama / Arts & Letters

Course Description

“Hamilton fever" has swept America. The show’s detailed presentation of the founding period’s complicated politics presented with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s dazzling rap lyrics, appeals to audiences of all ages. Remarkably, it has led many grandparents to appreciate rap, while their grandchildren have developed an interest in history. It depicts the concerns of the 18th century in terms that mirror similar contemporary issues in a way that helps theatergoers better understand the past as well as the present. The show focuses on incredibly volatile partisan politics; and such issues as race, gender, multiculturalism, immigration and the foundations of our government. It succeeds because it emphasizes the human side of history, by portraying characters as multifaceted including with flaws. Although Miranda makes absolutely no claim for this show to be a work of scholarly history, he still wrote that “I want historians to take this seriously. I felt an enormous responsibility to be as historically accurate as possible, while still telling the most dramatic story possible." This presentation will analyze the accuracy of the musical, as well as how it deals with past and contemporary issues, in an effort to determine if Hamilton gets Hamilton right.

About the Instructor

  • Ralph Nurnberger, PhD, is a widely acclaimed speaker who brings humor, current political insights and historical background to his presentations. He taught History and International Relations at Georgetown University for 38 years. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Graduate School of Liberal Studies in 2003. Nurnberger has given talks on a wide range of historical and political topics for the Lifelong Learning Program at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca and Jupiter campuses, where his talks frequently sell out. Nurnberger served on the professional staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; as a Legislative Liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC); as Executive Director of Builders for Peace (which had been established to assist the Arab-Israeli Peace Process); and as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He is a Senior Partner in Nurnberger & Associates, Inc. He received his BA from Queens College, his MA from Columbia University and his PhD from Georgetown University.