Renee Romano is the Robert S. Danforth Professor of History and a professor of Comparative American studies and Africana studies at Oberlin College, where she teaches and writes about race, historical memory, museums and public history in the post–World War II United States. She is the author of Racial Reckoning: Reopening America's Civil Rights Trials (2014) and Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America (2003), as well as a coeditor, with Claire Potter, of Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America's Past (2018) and Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History that Talks Back (2012) and, with Leigh Raiford, of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (2006). Romano has served as a consultant for a range of public scholarly projects, including working with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Kent State University's May 4th Walking Tour and Visitor's Center, and the Brooklyn Historical Society. She directs both Oberlin's Public Humanities concentration and the History Design Lab, which supports undergraduate digital history projects.
This lecture explores the popularity of the blockbuster musical, Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical has spawned sold-out performances, a triple platinum cast album, a Disney channel broadcast, and a score that has been used to teach U.S. history in classrooms across the country. Why has Hamilton been so successful and what does its popularity tell us about politics, culture, and racial attitudes in 21st century America? From exploring the musical's representation of the past, its fan base, and its color-conscious casting, this lecture interrogates a musical that has become one of the most successful popular representations of American history in recent decades.