Eric Lott
Position: Distinguished Professor, English
Program: English
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Phone: (212) 817-8353
Room Number: 4406.04
Office Hours: By appointment
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. in English from Columbia University
Specialization: African American Literature and Literary Theory|Cultural Studies|Film and Literature|Literature after 1945|Nineteenth-Century US Literature|Popular Culture

Cultural historian Eric Lott has written and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. literature, music, performance, and intellectual life. He received his Ph.D. in English from Columbia University and taught for more than twenty years at the University of Virginia, where he was director of graduate studies in English from 1997 to 2000. He has published dozens of articles, essays, and reviews in books and journals such as the Village Voice, the Nation, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Social Text, PMLA, Representations, and American Quarterly. His book Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism was published in 2017 by Harvard University Press, and he is also the author of The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual (2006) and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (1993), which won the MLA’s Best First Book Prize, among other awards, and recently appeared in a twentieth-anniversary edition. He is on the editorial board of Criticism, ASAP Journal, and others.

Besides lecturing internationally, Lott has been an active panelist at American studies and humanities conferences. He is a codirector of the Dartmouth American Studies Institute, and he recently served on the program committee of the American Studies Association. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Princeton Council for the Humanities, the Carter G. Woodson Institute, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, and others. Lott has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, CBS Sunday Morning, Turner Classic Movies, C-Span Book TV, Al Jazeera TV, and various radio shows and podcasts.


  • Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism (Harvard UP, 2017)
  • The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual (Basic Books, 2006)
  • Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Oxford UP, 1993; 2nd ed., 2013)

Selected Articles

  • "Not Quite Dying: Late Bowie," Blackstar Rising and the Purple Reign​, ed. Daphne Brooks (Duke UP, 2022).
  • "Q&A: Ralph Northam and the History of Blackface," with Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker​ (February 2019).
  • ​“Tar Baby and the Great White Wonder: Joni Mitchell’s Pimp Game,” Joni Mitchell: New Critical Readings, ed. Ruth Charnock (Bloomsbury, 2018).
  • Global South,” Keywords for Southern Studies, ed. Scott Romine and Jennifer Rae Greeson (University of Georgia P, 2016).
  • "Songs Are Like Tattoos," New Literary History (2015).
  • Back Door Man: Howlin’ Wolf and the Sound of Jim Crow,” American Quarterly (2011).
  • Bob Dylan’s ‘Love and Theft,’” The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, ed. Kevin Dettmar  (2009).
  • Perfect Is Dead: Karen Carpenter, Theodor Adorno, and the Radio; Or, If Hooks Could Kill,” Criticism (2008). Rpt. in Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt, ed. Eric Weisbard (Duke, 2012).
  • Criticism in the Vineyard: Twenty Years After ‘Race,’ Writing, and Difference,” PMLA (2008).
  • National Treasure, Global Value, and American Literary Studies,” American Literary History (2008).
  • The Wages of Liberalism: An Interview with Eric Lott,” minnesota review (2005).
  • Anti-American Studies,” Prospects: The Annual of American Cultural Studies (2005).
  • The First Boomer: Bill Clinton, George W., and Fictions of State,” Representations (2004).
  • Foreword, Stephen Steinberg, The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America, 3rd ed. (Beacon, 2000).
  • After Identity, Politics: The Return of Universalism,” New Literary History (2000).