a book talk with Sami Schalk
Sami Schalk, Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
In Bodyminds Reimagined Sami Schalk traces how black women’s speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds—the intertwinement of the mental and the physical—in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability. Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, Schalk demonstrates that this genre’s political potential lies in the authors’ creation of bodyminds that transcend reality’s limitations. She reads (dis)ability in neo-slave narratives by Octavia Butler (Kindred) and Phyllis Alesia Perry (Stigmata) not only as representing the literal injuries suffered under slavery, but also as a metaphor for the legacy of racial violence. The fantasy worlds in works by N. K. Jemisin, Shawntelle Madison, and Nalo Hopkinson—where werewolves have obsessive-compulsive-disorder and blind demons can see magic—destabilize social categories and definitions of the human, calling into question the very nature of identity. In these texts, as well as in Butler’s Parable series, able-mindedness and able-bodiedness are socially constructed and upheld through racial and gendered norms. Outlining (dis)ability’s centrality to speculative fiction, Schalk shows how these works open new social possibilities while changing conceptualizations of identity and oppression through nonrealist contexts.
This event is free & open to the public. Venue is wheelchair accessible and CART service will be provided.
For more information about this event, please contact the NYU Center for Disability Studies at 212-992-9767.
Co-sponsored by the NYU Center for Disability Studies and the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality.
Dr. Sami Schalk is an Assistant Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her BA in English (Creative Writing) and Women’s Studies from Miami University in 2008, her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from University of Notre Dame in 2010, and her PhD in Gender Studies from Indiana University in 2014.
Dr. Schalk’s first book Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction (Duke University Press 2018) argues that black women writers of speculative fiction reimagine the possibilities and limits of bodyminds, changing the way we read and interpret categories like (dis)ability, race, gender and sexuality within the context of these non-realist texts. Dr. Schalk has begun a second book project on disability politics in contemporary African American art and activism, including the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement. She also writes for mainstream outlets, namely Our Lives Magazine, Madison’s local LBGTQ magazine. On a personal level, Dr. Schalk identifies as a fat, femme, black, queer, cisgender, nondisabled, middle-class, polyamorous, body-positive, sex-positive, intersectional feminist woman. Dr. Schalk uses she/her pronouns. You can follow her activities on Twitter and Facebook.