La Donna L. Forsgren

Rev. Thomas J. McDonagh, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre

Associate Director of Community Engagement, Initiative on Race and Resilience
Editor, Theatre Survey


History, Theory, and Criticism

Research Interests

African American theatre and performance, Black feminist and queer theory, Black Liberation Struggle, Black Girlhood Studies, Dramaturgy


La Donna L. Forsgren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; concurrent faculty in the Gender Studies Program; and affiliate faculty in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She serves as Editor for Theatre Survey, a theatre history journal chartered by the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR).

She is the recipient of ASTR’s Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize (2020) and the Mid-America Theatre Conference’s Robert A. Schanke Theatre Research Award (2016) for her research in African American theatre history. Her first book, In Search of Our Warrior Mothers: Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement, investigates the works and careers of Black women playwrights: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Her second book, Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of the Black Arts Movement Theatre and Performance, is a finalist for ATHE’s Outstanding Book Award (2021). 

Dr. Forsgren has published her research on African American theatre history in prestigious academic journals, contributed chapters to book collections, and is working on a third book project that explores Black girlhood and Black queer feminist spectatorship in contemporary musical theatre.

However, she considers raising five really awesome children her most outstanding achievement. When she is not working, she enjoys playing “Mean Mother” with her kiddos, baking unhealthy desserts, and binge-watching true crime shows on Youtube (Stephanie Harlowe is her favorite!).

Representative Publications, Performances, and Creative Works

“Transculturation, Reclamation, and Adaptation: Approaches to Teaching Father Comes Home from the Wars,Modern Drama 66 no. 2 (2023), pp. 179-202. 

“Violence, Ritual, and Vogue: Black Queer Feminist Praxis in Motion,” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 46 no. 4 (2022), pp. 37-53.

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: ‘Suicide,’ Black Gun Ownership, and Restoring Black Masculinity on Black Arts Movement Stages,” Theatre Journal 73 no. 4 (2021), pp. 467-488.

Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theater and Performance. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2020.

The Wiz Redux; or Why Queer Black Feminist Spectatorship and Politically Engaged Popular Entertainment Continue to Matter,” Theatre Survey 60, no.3 (2019), pp. 325-354.

In Search of Our Warrior Mothers: Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2018.

“Breaking Down the ‘Walls of Whiteness’: Strategies for Teaching About Race and Social Justice in a ‘Very Black Year,’” Theatre Topics 27 no. 2 (2017), pp. 151-162.

“‘Set Your Blackness Free’: Barbara Ann Teer’s Art and Activism During the Black Arts Movement,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 36 (2015), pp. 136-159.


Phone: 574-631-7171
Office: 230C DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

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