Shakespeare’s Henry V, Broadway’s Hamilton, and the Uses of History 


If Shakespeare wrote shows today, what would they look and sound like? What psychological, social, and political issues would he evoke? Would he still appeal to all ages, social classes, and educational levels, while transmuting intellectual brio into commercial success? Can we call Broadway’s wildly successful musical Hamilton  “Shakespearean”? We’ll plunge into all these questions, enjoying ourselves with both the old Henry V and the new Hamilton, two immensely popular shows, both staged in times of bitter political polarization. How true are they to history? Are they history?




Reading: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: The Revolution, ISBN 978-1455539741 (this book can be rented); any edition of William Shakespeare, Henry V

About the Instructor

Richard Welsh’s academic pilgrimage took him from Biology through Psychology into Biological Anthropology (BA Swarthmore, MA Cornell). After designing and teaching a course in Graduate School in the as-yet-nonexistent field of Evolutionary Psychology, he left academics shy of dissertation for the world of political advocacy and feature journalism, with some amateur acting in the bargain. His courses at Midcoast Senior College and at OLLI in Portland come from a lifetime’s fascination with processes of large-scale transformation, both evolutionary and historical; with the mysteries of the human mind in both those time scales (especially the creative process); and with Shakespeare as a fine point of entry into the quest. He still wants to change the course of history, though for the moment will settle for more modest goals.


Richard Welsh


9:30-11:30 a.m.
8-week course
Begins February 13, 2023



On Zoom