Jonathan Lethem is the award-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn and other novels. His latest book is an inside look at his thoughts on literature. He talks to us about the importance reading, what inspires him, and how he feels about tough critics.
Science enables us to know much more than ever before. We can be aware of what disorders we could pass on to our kids and we can conduct screenings on children to discover irregularities in their genes. Such screenings can help doctors catch issues early but they can also put a huge burden on families.
Welcome to Culture Crash, a new segment where we examine literature, film and entertainment to explore issues and trends affecting the country.
This week, we look at the musical people can’t stop talking about: Hamilton: An American Musical.
Hamilton the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, has won numerous awards including a Tony for Best Musical and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of forefather Alexander Hamilton, Miranda and his collaborators sought to make this essential American history lesson more accessible to modern audiences.
The infectious music pulls from a variety of styles, most notably rap and hip-hop, but it also includes ballads and several pop-rock songs reminiscent of the British Invasion. The anachronistic music succeeds at bringing the history of the late 1700s and early 1800s into the twenty-first century.
Even more significant Hamilton makes history accessible to everyone through ground-breaking non-traditional casting. The show features African Americans and Latinos portraying the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and our unlikely narrator, Aaron Burr.
But make no mistake, in addition to being a trailblazer, Hamilton teaches real history. Songs document the tactics involved in winning the Battle of Yorktown, the neck-and-neck election of 1800, and the famed duel between a sitting vice president and the man on our ten dollar bills.
After U.S. history teachers lauded the production for being classroom-ready, the producers have hosted several free matinees for high schools in New York City and Chicago, with plans to unveil similar programs in other cities across America. Hamilton is now running on Broadway and in Chicago, and a touring production opened in San Francisco last month.
If you can’t find a ticket are interested in the history the full soundtrack for Hamilton, all two hours and twenty-two minutes of it, is available for purchase or can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music. I’m Evan Rook.
A Writer’s World: Jonathan Lethem on literature and his decades-long career: Jonathan Lethem is the award-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn and other novels. His latest book is an inside look at his thoughts on literature. He talks to us about the importance of reading, what inspires him, and how he feels about tough critics.
Gene Crunching: The ethics and impact of genetic screenings on children Science enables us to know much more than ever before. We can be aware of what disorders we could pass on to our kids and we can conduct screenings on children to discover irregularities in their genes. Such screenings can help doctors catch issues early…but they can also put a huge burden on families.
Between the election cycle and coverage of President Trump’s first 100 days, we’ve all seen some fake news online. We talk to two educators about the harm that can be done when people believe fake news, the education crisis involved when students believe fake news, and tips we can all use to identify lies online and keep ourselves informed by only the truth.
Being an explorer may seem like a childhood fantasy, but it’s a real thing people do. We talk to two experts about some notable explorers of the past and ways you can see the world through fresh eyes yourself.
The right to an education is guaranteed to all students, regardless of disability, by federal law. But experts and parents are now wondering if we are doing enough to help autistic students maximize their abilities to live their best possible lives. Mark Claypool, co-author of How Autism is Reshaping Special Education, discusses the current status of public schooling for autistic students and how the systems in place can be optimized to help students grow even more.