Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

Emeritus Faculty


Title/s:  Professor Emeritus

Email: lerenbe@luc.edu

CV Link: Erenberg CV


Lewis (Lew) Erenberg (B.A., UCLA, 1966; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1974) is Professor Emeritus of History at Loyola University. After teaching at Union College, Bowdoin College and the University of Virginia, he became an Assistant Professor at Loyola University in 1976, where he taught until his retirement  as a Full Professor in 2009. At Loyola he taught undergraduate courses in United States Social and Cultural History, the History of US Entertainment and Popular Culture, The 1960s, The United States on Film, Twentieth Century US, and The History of Men and Women. At the graduate level he taught,  among other seminars and colloquia, The Cultural History of Entertainment, Twentieth Century Approaches to Historiography, Women and Gender, From Depression to Cold War, and US Social History. Professor Erenberg served as Graduate Program Director and Advisor to the MA Students. 

Professor Erenberg’s work examines the role of entertainment and popular culture in American society, with an emphasis on the racial and gender components of American entertainment.  His first book, Steppin’ Out:  New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture, 1890-1930 (Greenwood, 1981; University of Chicago paperback, 1984) won Honorable Mention, Ralph Gabriel Prize in American Studies and helped pioneer the study of nightlife as a viable field of research in American history. The War in American Culture: Society and Consciousness during World War II (University of Chicago, 1996), co-edited with Professor Susan Hirsch, arose from a national conference of scholars hosted by Loyola University in 1992 and is a series of essays on how race, gender, class and entertainment was influenced by World War II.  In 1998 Professor Erenberg published Swingin’ the Dream:  Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture (University of Chicago), which explored the social, racial, gender and cultural implications of the evolution of American jazz from swing to bebop, as well as the relationship of American popular music to the politics and cultural life of the 1930s and 1940s.  Changing gears, Erenberg turned to another of his deep-seated interests, sports and especially boxing. The Greatest Fight of Our Generation:  Louis vs. Schmeling  (Oxford University Press, 2005). Continuing his fascination with race, culture and politics, the book dissected the two great prizefights between German Max Schmeling and American Joe Louis as a lens for understanding how the two societies treated sport, race, masculinity, and heroism during the Great Depression and World War II.  As a transition to retirement, Dr. Erenberg wrote “Boyle Heights Boy, A Memoir of Growing Up in Los Angeles” (unpublished). In 2019, Professor Erenberg published The Rumble in the Jungle: Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on the Global Stage (University of Chicago, 2019). In Rumble, Erenberg provides a global perspective on the 1974 championship fight in Zaire between Ali and Foreman,  locating it at the center of the cultural dramas of the day. The book orbits around Ali and Foreman, placing them at the convergence of the American Civil Rights movement and the Great Society, the rise of Islamic and African liberation efforts, and the ongoing quest to cast off the shackles of colonialism. 

Professor Erenberg has received numerous honors and fellowships, including the Honorable Mention for the Ralph Gabriel Prize in American Studies for Steppin’ Out in 1975.  Besides many research leaves from Loyola University, he also received an NEH Summer Grant in 1981, and two Fulbright International Fellowships:  one to the Amerika Institut at the University of Munich in 1990-1991 and the Inaugural Distinguished Fulbright Chair in History at the University of Salzburg, Austria in 2000.  In addition, Professor Erenberg was the Frank Kenan Fellow at the National Humanities Center, Triangle Park, North Carolina in 2003-2004.


Research Interests

U.S. Cultural and Social History
History of American Music, Culture, and Entertainment
History of Gender

Selected Publications

The Rumble in the Jungle: Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on the Global Stage (University of Chicago, 2019)

The Greatest Fight of Our Generation: Louis vs. Schmeling (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Swingin' The Dream: Big Band Jazz and The Rebirth of American Culture (University of Chicago, 1998)

Ed., The War in American Culture. (University of Chicago Press, 1996);

Steppin' Out: New York City Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture, 1890-1930 (University of Chicago Press, 1984)

Guest Editor, Special Issue of Mid America, In Tribute to John Higham (Winter Summer, 2001)

"Things to Come: Swing Bands, Bepop and the Rise of a Postwar Jazz Scene," in Lary May (ed.) Recasting America: Culture and Politics in the Age of the Cold War. (University of Chicago Press, 1989)