J. P. M. Drury and S. A. M. Drury, "Rhetoric, Politics, and Hamilton: an American Musical" (Peter Lang, 2021)

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Hamilton: An American Musical made its record-breaking Broadway debut in 2015—but the musical has reached far beyond typical Broadway audiences to pave a path into political discourse, pop culture, classroom curriculums, and the broader conversation about contemporary American politics. What led to this chain reaction of popularity, and how does it continue to influence these cultural and political dynamics? Jeffery and Sara Mehltretter Drury work to answer these questions using the tools of rhetorical criticism by bringing together a collection of essays in their book, Rhetoric, Politics, and Hamilton: an American Musical (Peter Lang, 2021). This volume is part of the Frontiers in Political Communication series at Peter Lang Publishers—a book series that aims to produce timely scholarship at the very cutting edge of political communication, emphasizing “how citizens, governments, and the media interact is the communication process.” Dr. Sara Mehltretter Drury is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric, and the Director of Democracy & Public Discourse at Wabash College. Dr. Jeffery Mehltretter Drury is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at Wabash College. Their combined expertise has helped to produce an edited volume that invites the reader to join the deep analysis of the musical Hamilton.

The book is structured around three major themes in the realm of rhetorical criticism: public memory, rhetoric and social identity, rhetoric of democracy and social change. Each section of the book presents multiple interpretations of the musical in order to present new perspectives in understanding Hamilton’s relevance to politics and culture. Public memory centers on the narrative concepts of Hamilton and how it addresses American myths regarding the American Dream and the foundation of America. Rhetoric and Social Identity approaches race and gender within Hamilton, including the juxtaposition of portraying the nation’s white founders as people of color on stage. This section examines the musical’s accessibility to communities across America to discuss both historical and modern-day political conflicts. Rhetoric of Democracy and Social Change evaluates Hamilton’s influence in contemporary politics in how it normalizes political debate by humanizing historical political figures. By utilizing academic theories and analyzing multifaceted aspects of the musical, Rhetoric, Politics, and Hamilton: An American Musical welcomes a variety of arguments to encourage its readers to engage in the ideas, arguments, and representation of American history in a contemporary context.

Shaina Boldt assisted with this podcast.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.

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