Profile picture of Courtney Thorsson

Courtney Thorsson

Associate Professor, English
Faculty Fellow, Clark Honors College
Clark Honors College, English
Phone: 541-346-1473
Office: 244 PLC
Office Hours: Spring Term: 9:30-11:30am T/Th in 323 Chapman
Research Interests: African American Literary and Cultural Studies


Courtney Thorsson is an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Oregon, where she teaches, studies, and writes about African American literature from its beginnings to present using Black feminist methods. Her first book Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women's Novels argues that Toni Cade Bambara, Paule Marshall, Gloria Naylor, Ntozake Shange, and Toni Morrison reclaim and revise cultural nationalism in their novels of the 1980s and 90s. Her writing has appeared in the volume Foodscapes: Food, Space, and Place in a Global Society and publications including CallalooAfrican American Review; MELUS; Gastronomica; Contemporary Literature; Legacy; and Public Books. Her most recent book, The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture tells the story of how a remarkable community of Black women writers and intellectuals transformed political, literary, and academic cultures. She is the recipient of a Public Scholars Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of the research and writing of The Sisterhood.


Interview by N'Kosi Oates, May 2024. Listen on New Books Network, Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Faculty Talk: Courtney Thorsson and The Sisterhood, reading and discussion moderated by Ericka Warren and sponsored by the UO Alumni Association, Clark Honors College, and the UO Black Alumni Network. Online, April 2024.

"Making Toni Morrison," March 2024. Listen on WBEZ Chicago, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.


Interview by DuEwa Frazier, Nerdacity Podcast, March 2024. Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Blog post, "Beyond the Famous Few: Five Women Who Shaped Black History and Literature," Columbia University Press, February 2024.

Interview by Jeff O'Neal, First Edition Podcast, Book Riot. November 2023.

The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture, Columbia University Press (2023).

- Reviewed in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus ReviewsLibrary Journal, and the Times Literary Supplement.
- ​The Millions "Most Anticipated" Books of 2023"; Town and Country "Must-Read Books of Fall 2023" and "Best Books of November 2023";  LitHub "Ultimate Fall Books 2023 Preview," Library Journal "Editors' Fall Picks"; Los Angeles Times "Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Fall," and "18 Best Nonfiction Books" of 2023; Association of University Presses "Work that Sparks Conversation"; TheGrio, "Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide"; 2023 Seminary Co-op Notables; Black Perspectives "The Best Black History Books of 2023."
- LitHub excerpt "How Michele Wallace Sought Black Women's Liberation Through Art: Courtney Thorsson on the Emergence of a Black Feminist Literary Culture in America."
- Book Publication Award, Office of the Provost, University of Oregon.

"The Chaneysville Incident and The Research Narrative in Contemporary African American Literature," Studies in the Novel. 55.1 (Spring 2023): 17-36.

"The Sisterhood, 1977 Photograph," Remarkable Receptions podcast, August 2022. Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Podcasts.

- Most downloaded episode of Remarkable Receptions, a Mellon-Funded Initiative of the History of Black Writing Project.

"Toni Morrison's Beloved," Remarkable Receptions podcast, June 2022. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Review of From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture by Koritha MitchellLegacy 38.1-2 (2021): 163-65.

Panel discussion with Mecca Jamilah Sullivan and Patricia Spears Jones, "Creation Is Everything You Do: Shange, The Sisterhood, and Black Collectivity," Barnard College, March 2021.

"'They could be killing kids forever!': The Atlanta Child Murders in African American Literature," African American Review. 53.4 (Winter 2020): 315-332. Winner of the 2020 Weixlmann Prize for best essay in African American Review about 20th- and 21st-century literature.

"Fairy Tales of Race and Nation," Review of Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. Public Books, April 9, 2019.

"The Musical History of Jelly," podcast episode with Psyche Williams Prof. Psyche-Wiliams Forson and host Dan Pashman, The Sporkful. August 2019. 

"Kitchen, Nation, Diaspora: Ntozake Shange's African American Foodways." Foodscapes: Food, Space, and Place in a Global Society edited by Carlnita Greene. Peter Lang, 2018: 199-222.

"Foodways in Contemporary African American Poetry: Harryette Mullen and Evie Shockley." Contemporary Literature. 57.2 (Summer 2016): 184-215.

Co-author, "Black Women's Food Work as Critical Space." Gastronomica 15.4 (Winter 2015): 34-49.

"Gwendolyn Brooks's Black Aesthetic of the Domestic," MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 40.1 (2015): 149-76.

"James Baldwin and Black Women's Fiction." African American Review 46.4. (2013): 615-31.

Women's Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women's Novels (Virginia 2013).

"Dancing Up A Nation: Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow.Callaloo 30.2 (Summer 2007): 644-52.


Writing inquiries: Kathleen Anderson
Speaking inquiries: Annette Luba-Lucas
Twitter: @c_thorsson
Instagram: courtneythorsson