ENG316 202101 Undergraduate

Fall 2021
ENG 316
Applies To: 
Women Writers' Forms: Black Women's Novels

Courtney Thorsson

Courtney Thorsson profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-1473
  • Office: 244 PLC
  • Office Hours: On leave spring term; not available by email
Department Section Description: 

In this course, we will study a selection of novels by Black American women from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Using close reading and historical context, we will consider how these novels construct race, class, and gender; the possibilities of the novel form; ways these texts engage with Black Nationalism, Civil Rights, Black Power, Feminism, and other political movements; how these novels envision home, community, and nation; and whether these novels are part of a distinct tradition of Black American women's writing. Authors whose works we may read include Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Petry, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Tayari Jones. The goal of this course is to help you engage with African American literature, improving your writing, reading, and critical thinking skills in the process. This class requires substantial reading and writing and vigorous participation.



Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.


US: Difference, Inequality, and Agency courses focus on race and ethnicity in the United States by considering two or more racial and ethnic groups.

F-Gender/Ability/Queer Studies/Sexuality

Gender, Ability, Queer Studies, and/or Sexuality courses focus on the ways that issues of sexuality, gender, queerness, and disability are represented, critiqued, and developed in media and literature.


Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture.  Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.

English Minor

English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts.  The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.