Eric Lott's 'Love & Theft' Named One of Best Music Books Ever by Billboard

Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (1993), the seminal book by Professor Eric Lott (English/Comparative Literature), has been named one of Billboard’s 100 greatest music books of all time.
 
Perched at no. 52 on the list, the book delves deeply into the history of the minstrel show, which arose out of extreme racial and class conflicts.

It appears alongside works by Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Kim Gordon, and Gary Giddins, executive director of the GC's Leon Levy Center for Biography, among other luminaries.
 
“It is an uncomfortable fact that the roots of American popular music can be traced to the 19th century minstrel show, where white performers sang and danced their way through virulently racist spectacles while ‘blacked up’ in masks of burnt cork,” Billboard noted in its description of the book.

“Lott’s landmark study offers the best overview of this fascinating and disturbing cornerstone of our cultural heritage, probing the social and economic history of the minstrelsy industry while excavating the psychology behind it.”
 
Love & Theft won the MLA’s Best First Book Prize and other awards, and was reissued in a 20th-anniversary edition.

Lott, a cultural historian, has published and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. literature, music, performance, and intellectual life. 
 
 
 

Submitted on: OCT 18, 2016

Category: Comparative Literature | English | Faculty Awards | General GC News