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Social historian Eric Lott to deliver Stephen Crane lecture Oct. 7

September 22, 2011

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

Eric Lott, social historian and professor at the University of Virginia, will deliver the Stephen Crane Annual Lecture on Friday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m., in 500 Hall of Languages. Among his writings, Lott is the author of the critically acclaimed “Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class” (Oxford University Press, 1993).

The Stephen Crane Annual Lecture is sponsored by the Dikaia Foundation. Additional support comes from the SU Humanities Center and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications’ Goldring Arts Journalism Program. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Eric LottLott has been a professor of English and American Studies at UVA since 1990. His book about the origins, evolution and cultural significance of blackface minstrelsy, “Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class,” received the 1994 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians, the first annual Modern Language Association’s “Best First Book” prize, and the 1994 Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.

Bob Dylan is widely reported to have taken the title of his album “Love and Theft” from that of Lott’s book; Lott, in turn, considered his own title “a riff on” Leslie Fiedler’s “Love and Death in the American Novel.”

Lott’s other books include “The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual” (Basic Books, 2006) and “Tangled Up in Blue: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism,” a forthcoming study of race and culture in the 20th century.

He has written and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. cultural history, and his work has appeared in a range of periodicals, including the Village Voice, the Nation, Newsday, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Transition, Social Text, African American Review, PMLA, Representations, American Literary History and American Quarterly.  

He is also a 2011-12 senior invited fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities.

“I am thrilled to be bringing Eric Lott to Syracuse,” says David Yaffe, assistant professor of English in The College of Arts and Sciences. “He is one of the most original, daring and inspiring thinkers on the subject of race and American culture. His lecture began as a paper on a panel I put together about Joni Mitchell a few years ago. It will be exciting to see how it bears fruit here at SU.”

Lott’s lecture is part of the Stephen Crane Annual Lecture Series, which honors one of SU’s most noteworthy alumni. Crane, who only lived to age 29, had an enormous impact on the literary world and is best known for his 1891 Civil War novel, “The Red Badge of Courage.” The annual lecture series addresses various aspects of American literature, with lectures given by literary scholars of high stature—an appropriate tribute to Crane.

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