|Courtney Thorsson points the way|
Here's the deal. We might as well go ahead now and place Courtney Thorsson in that tradition of lit scholars as organizers. View her as one of those folks who bring a variety of scholars, teachers, grad students, undergrads, and general citizens together to talk and think about literary art. Consider her in the modes of Maryemma Graham, of Eugene B. Redmond, and of Lovalerie King.
Thinking of her in those ways will assist in our understanding of how literature professors build communities and create spaces for scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates to exchange ideas.
Courtney organized the recent symposium "Racial Representations: African American Literature Since 1975" at the University of Oregon. A year ago, she organized "Place and Displacement in African American Literature." A year before that, she organized a reading featuring novelist Mat Johnson on her campus.
Since literature scholars are primarily trained and socialized to teach classes, present papers at conferences, and write articles and books, I'm inclined to pay attention when someone participates in these kinds of organizational efforts. A junior professor leading such efforts gives even more reason to take notice. As Courtney Thorsson is demonstrating, the literature scholar as organizer creates expanded opportunities for accessing and engaging the field.
• A Notebook on work by Courtney Thorsson
• A Golden Age of Inspiration for Black Men Writers, 1977 - 1997