Drawing from discussions of transformational leaders in Dr. Goethal’s Theories and Models class, Harry Potter does seem to fill the role of a transformational leader. Following the model of a mythic hero, Harry provides a sense of security and immediacy offered by an active leader. However, Yost is correct in noting how Harry diverges from the typical individual hero and learns throughout the series to collaborate with others. Borrowing James MacGregor Burns’ definition of transforming leadership, discussed in Dr. Goethals’ class, the leader provides both a motivation and moral sense for the followers. As proven by Yost, Harry proves to develop into a staunch motivator, especially in his work with Dumbledore’s Army. Once he realizes that he cannot fight his battle with Voldemort alone, Harry’s leadership changes in order to support his followers to become self-sufficient, eventually aiding him in battle. His hero archetype and the clear struggle of good and evil help to maintain the moral aspect of his transforming nature as well.

It seems as though J.K. Rowling attempted to make a commentary on Harry’s overblown heroic qualities through his son, Albus, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. However, as a longtime fan of the series, I was extremely disappointed in this play, from what I have read so far. Every instance in which Albus laments living in his father or his siblings’ shadows seems obvious, forced, and awkward. Perhaps Albus’ uncomfortably excessive angst was emphasized as a commentary on Harry’s more nuanced angst and teenage stupidity throughout the series, though I’m afraid this is not the case. Clearly, Act I has set Albus and Scorpius up to (hopefully) act as heroes in the second act, completing the male/male/female trio with Delphi Diggory. Again, the references to the original trio and plot line of the series are absolutely forced into the awkward dialogue, though whatever commentary that might have been attempted is lost to the strained interactions between characters. Of course, character arcs are difficult to fully portray in something as short as a play, though we have yet to see any semblance of Albus’ leadership beyond the painfully obvious hero trope. Hopefully, Act II will develop the plot line beyond the typical “do what’s right” heroism into something more intricate than yet another child living in the shadow of their father.

When reading Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter I was reminded of a book we have been reading and discussing in Dr. Goethals Theories and Models class, entitled Leading Minds by Howard Gardner.

In Leading Minds, Howard Gardner places leaders into the following categories: indirect and direct. In Leading Minds, Gardner defines direct leaders as leaders who exert their influence in a direct way, such as through the stories they communicate to various audiences. Meanwhile, Gardner defines indirect leaders as leaders who exert their influence in an indirect way, such as through the ideas they develop and the way that those ideas are captured in some kind of treaty or treatise.

Given the latter definitions of direct and indirect leadership, I would classify Lin-Manuel Miranda as both an indirect and a direct leader. I believe that Manuel Miranda meets Gardner’s definition of a direct leader, as he has communicated a multitude of stories to various audiences throughout his life via his art, and- as art is timeless- these stories will have lasting impressions on generations to come. Additionally, I believe Manuel Miranda meets Gardner’s definition of an indirect leader, as the ideas he has developed through his art have been captured and put into practice by others- especially when it comes to political movements (for example, the cast of Hamilton often speaks out about political matters and inspires fans of the show to take part in political processes).

In Leading Minds, Gardner also places leaders into the categories of ordinary, innovative, and visionary. In Leading Minds, Gardner defines ordinary leaders as leaders who relate the traditional story of his or her group as effectively as possible. Meanwhile, Gardner defines innovative leaders as leaders who take a story that has been latent in the population, or amongst members of his or her domain, and bring new attention or a fresh twist to that story. Finally, Gardner defines visionary leaders as the rarest of leaders, and states that these individuals create a new story that was not known to individuals or members before and achieves a measure of success in conveying the story effectively to others.

Based on these definitions, I feel as though Lin-Manuel Miranda embodies all three forms of leadership. I believe Manuel Miranda meets Gardner’s definition of an ordinary leader as he relates the story of Hamilton being an immigrant (a story that is- in many ways- similar to his own) to a large audience via his musical Hamilton. Further, I believe that Manuel Miranda meets Gardner’s definition of an innovative leader as he took the story of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers- a story that has been latent in the population for centuries- and brought new attention and a fresh twist to the story by telling the story via a pop, rap, hip-hop musical and casting the historically white characters as ethnic and racial minority actors. Finally, I feel as though Manuel Miranda meets Gardner’s definition of a visionary leader as he took a series of historical events and retold them in a way that simultaneously emphasizes shifts in modern day society, highlights the importance of democracy and participation in political processes, and prompts audience members to reflect on the role they play in modern day politics. Thus, Manuel Miranda has been effective when it comes to taking a well-known story and using it to create a new story that was not known to individuals or members of society before. Further, Manuel Miranda has not only achieved immense success in conveying his story to others (as reflected in the overwhelming popularity of his show, Hamilton) but has also influenced the way audiences view both modern day politics and their role in political processes, as reflected by the number of individuals who look up to Manuel Miranda as a leader in the political arena.

What immediately struck me about WEB DuBois’s article was how applicable it is to today. He describes racial discrimination in a way that sounds eerily similar to modern discussions of injustice. The emphasis on crime and black people being held in a lower is something that is still prevalent today, and it is noteworthy that DuBois’s analysis sounds a lot like the issues of today.

What I found most intriguing was the parallels to the Civil Rights movement, considering that the “Talented Tenth” he spoke of materialized as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and many others. As DuBois said, no change can come from the bottom up, it has to start at the top. Thus, great leaders have emerged, and will continue to emerge, in an effort to bring black people up in this country.

I can’t help but consider that while these leaders have brought about change, the problem still remains. Black people in America are still held down, and it doesn’t seem as if we have as many great leaders today. There are movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that continue to represent the “Talented Tenth”, but WEB DuBois’s goal is still something that we as a nation are working towards, and is not nearly a finished product yet.

I recently got the honor of watching a performance in Modlin of a company called “Urban Bush Women”. The show itself was called “Hair and Other Stories”, and it demonstrated the role of hair in the life of African American women and the implications that come with having natural vs. treated hair, the reactions of people of different races to different hairstyles, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, the opening scene of “Malcolm X” immediately made me think of the performance.

Just as Malcolm went through the burning, acidic pain of the hair treatment, “Urban Bush Women” contained a scene in which one of the women mimed the experience of getting a hot comb treatment for the first time, and did just as Malcolm did by screaming for water for her burning scalp.

In the show, which was billed as a dance performance but the actors assured the audience that it was far more than that, the actors stood and addressed the audience, asking all of the African American Women to stand and know that their hair was beautiful. Then, they asked all of the white women to stand and know that their hair should not be seen as the norm, and to do what we could to fix the broken system of hair.

Similarly to how Malcolm’s father’s sermon made me feel, I didn’t enjoy how the performance almost seemed to expect the white women in the audience to ‘atone’ for the system. For a good portion of my life, I felt as though I had to apologize for the actions of my white predecessors; men like Andrew Jackson or the entire idea of ‘The White Man’s Burden’, The Ku Klux Klan and so on. But why should I feel bad or, specifically, need to apologize for something that I myself did not do?

Personally, I have never used a racial slur, I try to be extremely conscious of microaggressions, I call out other people’s actions if I think that they are offensive, and overall try not to be a horrible person.

Do I have to apologize for the actions of people who don’t share my family name, my beliefs, or anything except for my race on behalf of my entire race?

I am interested to hear people’s feedback on this issue, even though our class has a rather low level of diversity among us.

One of the aspects of this film that I found most interesting was the lighting throughout the film. Documentaries, especially those about political figures, can often appear either too stiff and serious, or too dramatic to be taken seriously. Spike Lee managed to maintain this balance between dramatics and the more serious aspects of Malcolm X’s life through his lighting choices. In the first scenes of the film, and many of the scenes when Malcolm was still involved with drugs and robbery, a haze fills the screen and refracts light around each different setting. Much of the scenes involving his early life are cast in golden or red light, depending on the content of the scene, almost representing the more youthful, less stoic parts of his life. The smoky haze present in many of the dance hall or jazz club scenes can also be seen to represent the confusion and uncertainty in which Malcolm lived before his conversion to Islam.

Once Malcolm is placed in prison, however, the lighting shifts from a warm haze to a cold blue, reinforced by the denim prison uniforms. The warm light returns, however, once he is released from prison, meets Elijah Mohammed, and is able to start preaching. Scenes within his home, as well as his pilgrimage are also cast in warm light, save the scene in which his home is fire-bombed. In the minutes before the molotov cocktail was thrown, his home is cast in blue light, again to indicate the negative event about to transpire. The drive to the Audubon Ballroom is also cast in colder lighting, though not exactly blue, again to warn the audience of the sad event about to occur.

The film is also interspersed with black and white footage, especially during some of Malcolm X’s speeches, which includes some footage of the real Malcolm X. Though the genuine recordings of Malcolm X were originally in black and white anyway, regardless of any stylistic choice, Spike Lee’s choice to recreate some of these scenes in black and white, even with the ability to do so in color, helps to indicate the importance of certain events. By placing certain scenes in black and white, the audience can associate these scenes with news-worthy events, helping them to stand out against the more humanistic scenes in the film. Through his choice of lighting, whether warm, cool, or black and white, Spike Lee is able to effectively relay the gravity of each scene to the audience.

I found Chapter VI. Imperialisms to be an interesting read as the author provides readers with a very detailed analysis regarding the content, context, and historical significance of many of the events that occur in the film 1776. For example, the author of Chapter VI. Imperialisms provides readers with details regarding “the Triangle Trade” that is continuously referenced in 1776, noting the role the Triangle Trade played in the U.S. economy during the late 18th century and how “attempts by the British crown to levy exorbitant duties on the Molasses” involved in the Triangle Trade “helped to fuel the unrest in the colonies” (173). I read Chapter VI. Imperialisms after watching 1776. Thus, Chapter VI. Imperialisms did not in any way influence the way I watched 1776 or interpreted the events that were occurring in the film. However, I believe that reading Chapter VI. Imperialisms prior to watching 1776 would have definitely impacted the way I viewed the film and my perception of the events that were occurring in the film by furthering my understanding of the historical events that take place within the film.

Further, the author of Chapter VI. Imperialisms details how the composition of the 1776 musical score works to relay the message the director (Peter H. Hunt) is trying to send audience members. For example, the author of Chapter VI. Imperialisms writes how the number of verses and rhythmic patterns used to explain the Triangle Trade serve as an example of “musical symbolism” and “clearly reference great ocean waves, preparing the Congress and the audience for a sea journey across less tranquil waters” (174). When I first watched 1776, I did not notice the latter symbolism and references. However, after reading Chapter VI. Imperialisms, I can now see how Peter H. Hunt incorporated certain techniques into the musical score to set the tone of the upcoming scenes and to foreshadow the events in the film. After reading this chapter, I will be sure to keep an eye out for minor details regarding the musical scores of the films we will be watching and to keep in mind how the musical scores often work to foreshadow and emphasize different elements of a given film.

Overall I am excited to switch gears and to begin analyzing films and the additional dimensions that come along with films, such as acting, music, color, costumes, light, and sound.

Initially, I found Allgaier’s description of Lear’s direct request for his daughters’ love as “spiritual rape” odd. While I understand the violation of personhood, it seemed a bit extreme, especially when this comparison was followed by a comparison between God’s relationship with man. If anything, this “spiritual rape” could also be described as the byproduct of the patriarchal doctrine, and Cornelia’s rebellion a rebellion against both the patriarchy and the Christian obligation to obey her father. Considering Allgaier wrote this article in 1973, it is not surprising that the author failed to consider the gendered aspect of his rape metaphor. However, when considering any metaphor of rape, it is important to also consider the structures surrounding that “spiritual rape”. This begs the question: which structure is more pertinent? Gender roles? Familial obligations? Noble obligations? Against which structure(s) does Cordelia rebel?

When considering the gender dynamic in King Lear, Cordelia’s refusal to give all of herself to her father breaks from both the Christian and patriarchal structure under which Lear made his request. When considering her eventual return to her father in a Christian context, Allgaier sees this dynamic as reminiscent of man’s struggle with devotion to God. However, when considered in the context of patriarchal expectations of women in caring for their fathers, Cordelia’s return can be seen as another “spiritual rape” by Allgaier’s definition. Banished from her own kingdom, disowned by her father, failed by her two sisters, Cordelia is the only sister left to take care of her ageing father, a responsibility often placed on daughters. Under gendered expectations, Cordelia is again asked to suppress her individual personhood in order to realign herself with her father, eventually resulting in both her and her father’s death. In a Christian redemption perspective, her final forgiveness can be viewed as an act of pity and love. In a gendered context, Cordelia is simply fulfilling the requirement to care for her father after both her sisters ousted him (admittedly for justifiable reasons). If Allgaier maintains the Christian ethos reading of King Lear, the gendered aspect of the Christian hierarchy and a patriarchal society should be taken into consideration as well, especially in a play with so many prominent women.

I found the interaction between Edgar and his father while he was trying to commit suicide to be one of the most interesting scenes. It seemed overly elaborate for Edgar to convince his father he was jumping off a cliff then convince him that he survived such an immense fall, when he could have just revealed his identity and asked his father not to kill himself. I found myself wondering if Edgar was justified in manipulating his father for the purpose of convincing him to live. Edgar does say, “Why I do trifle thus with his despair is done to cure it”. He clearly has good intentions but his actions were still deceitful. Perhaps he believed that convincing his father that the gods prevented him from dying would have a more profound impact on Gloucester’s will to live. However, even after Gloucester is convinced that he survives the fall, he is still miserable. Whereas if Edgar had just told his father who he was, his father would have probably cheered up.

I also found myself wondering how the audience would have perceived this scene. Even though the play is set in ancient times before the onset of Christianity, during Shakespeare’s time, suicide was viewed as a horrible sin. However, Gloucester is an otherwise commendable character. Would the audience have condemned Gloucester for this attempted suicide even though his life was never actually in danger? In other words, does the intent to kill one’s self amount to a similar level of sin as actually committing suicide? Additionally, I wonder if Edgar’s role in the “attempted suicide” makes him culpable as well. I wouldn’t think so, considering that despite the fact that he did nothing to dissuade Gloucester from jumping off a cliff, he did ensure his father’s safety by keeping him on flat ground. In a way, Edgar saved his father’s life by tricking him and yet, his father might not have even wanted to kill himself if he’d known he was in the presence of his son.

One of the things that interests me so much about King Lear is Lear’s madness. There are so many ways to think about it, interpret it, and perform it. On one hand, he seems completely mad. When he enters in Act 4 with flowers in his hair, rambling on to Edgar and Gloucester, he seems completely gone. This could be seen as either comedic or tragic, depending on the choices the actor(s)/director makes. On the other hand, he makes some sense while he has seemingly gone insane. While descending into madness, he finally realizes his failure to care for all of his citizens (Act 3, Scene 4). He seems to care a bit more about the truth when he’s mad. His ramblings are simultaneously incoherent and insightful. When he is brought in to see Cordelia in Act 4, he says, “Pray, do not mock me: / I am a very foolish fond old man, / Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less; / And, to deal plainly, / I fear I am not in my perfect mind. / Methinks I should know you and know this man, / Yet I am doubtful” (4.7.59-65). Here, he shows that he is aware of his own madness. There is a really interesting connection between madness (or a removal from reality?) and truth. Before going mad, Lear was more interested in appearances. Somehow he seems more interested in truth now that he’s gone insane. The fact that so many characters are disguising themselves makes this even more complicated. There is definitely something going on with images/appearances and truth. For example, Edgar seems to advocate for truthfulness when he says: “Yet better thus, and known to be contemned, / Than still contemned and flattered” (4.1.1-2). But then, he conceals his identity from his father and tricks him into believing he miraculously survived a fall that was encouraged by some kind of devilish creature (4.6.69-72). Edgar even claims that Gloucester has been saved by the gods. Isn’t this the kind of flattery he just condemned a few scenes earlier? I feel as though the play should be advocating for truth – in appearances and in words – but I can’t find a clear argument one way or the other. (Maybe things will be clear in the end but I doubt it.)

A common theme I have noticed in the Shakespeare plays we have read so far is Shakespeare’s use of equivocation, or “ambiguous language to conceal the truth.” In Shakespeare’s plays, things are often not what they seem. For example, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban believes Stephano and Trinculo to be gods instead of a drunk and a court jester throughout almost the entire play. Meanwhile, in Shakespeare’s Richard III Richard III constantly uses equivocation to trick the other characters. For example, in the play, Richard III leads King Edward to believe a prophecy that one of Edward’s heirs will be murdered by someone in their family whose name starts with the letter “G,” and George, the Duke of Clarence is accused of treason as a result. However, in telling Edward this fact, Richard was actually hinting at his own betrayal of Edward, as Richard, Duke of Gloucester’s name also starts with a “G.”

Now, when reading Shakespeare’s King Lear, equivocation occurs again. An example of equivocation in King Lear occurs in Scene VI of Act IV, when a blind Gloucester believes he is being lead to the top of a cliff by a peasant. However, in reality, the man walking with Gloucester is his son- Edgar- and Edgar is taking him for a walk along an even ground. Once the father and son reach the top of the fictional cliff, Edgar describes the view to Gloucester, saying that “the fishermen that (walk) upon the beach appear like mice” and that “the murmuring surge that on th’ unnumbered idle pebbles chafes cannot be heard so high (Shakespeare, 4.6. 22-27),” further invoking equivocation. Further, Edgar leaves Gloucester to believe that he is alone at the top of this fictional cliff, and as a result, Edgar overhears his father asking the gods to bless Edgar “If Edgar live, O bless him (Shakespeare, 4.6. 50)!” Following this, Gloucester jumps off of the fictional cliff. Then, Edgar pretends to be a different man and tells Gloucester that he saw him fall from the top of a large cliff and survive the fall. Edgar does this in order to convince Gloucester that the Gods are on his side so that Gloucester will stop contemplating and attempting suicide. Edgar’s plan works, and following his encounter with his son, Gloucester decides that he will stop trying to take his own life.

I believe that part of the reason Shakespeare uses so much equivocation in his plays is because it is a literary device that is true to many real-life circumstances, and that, as a result, Shakespeare believed incorporating equivocation into his plays added authenticity to his writing. For example, while many of the situations involving equivocation Shakespeare creates in his plays are somewhat absurd, in real-life things are not often as black and white or single-layered as we perceive them to be. Further, Shakespeare sometimes includes equivocation in situations where the use of equivocation helps the character involved- such as when Edgar leads his father to believe that the Gods saved him from dying as a result of his horrible fall, and, in turn, convinces his father not to commit suicide. In doing so, Shakespeare suggests that although equivocation is dishonest by nature, it can also be used morally and with good intentions. Thus, by implementing equivocation into his plays, Shakespeare provides commentary on real-life situations, makes his plays more authentic, and shines a light on the multifaceted nature of equivocation.