In a time when our nation is particularly divided and confused about its identity, Hamilton, the Broadway musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda has become an example of art's ability to unify disparate ideological, socio-economic and racial groups. The play's reception deserves study to understand how both liberals and conservatives can agree upon an interpretation of a musical that celebrates diversity in race and representation. Celebration and interpretation of the play has been so widespread that a public has emerged, furthering the influence of the play's ideas. This public is unique in a time when most people cocoon themselves in communities with shared identities and philosophies. But the public of Hamilton reflects the historical origins of a public: a group willing to shelve their personal interests to discuss a shared cultural artifact and experience. The argument then of this paper is two-fold: first, that theater is a cultural artifact worthy of rhetorical discussion since Hamilton evidences that art can have tremendous influence on changing the values and ideas of society; and second, that the best way to understand the impact and influence of a play is not by examining the artifact directly but the public and its discourse in response to the experience of encountering the play. This body of criticism provides better insight into the reception and interpretation of theater as a rhetorical and aesthetic work. Ultimately, it is difficult to determine the long-lasting influence of the play but the public discussion has shown that art can have a unifying rhetorical effect.



College and Department

Humanities; English



Date Submitted


Document Type





Hamilton, Publics Theory, Rhetoric, Aesthetic, Theater