Headshot of Dr. Sami Schalk
Dr. Sami Schalk (photo by Paulius Musteikis)

Welcome to the website for Dr. Sami Schalk, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Learn more about Dr. Schalk, her work, and her speaking engagements by using the menu links above. Dr. Schalk is represented by CCMNT Speakers Agency. If you’d like to invite her for a talk, lecture, panel, or other event, please e-mail CCMNT at info@ccmntspeakers.com.

Click here to download a high resolution copy of Dr. Schalk’s headshot

Bio & CV

Medium shot of Dr. Sami Schalk, a light skinned black women with glasses. She smiles in front of a brick wall with ivy on the right. She wears a long sleeved dark purple dress and a long gold necklace.
Dr. Sami Schalk (photo by Sam Waldron)

Dr. Sami Schalk (she/her) is an Associate 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, her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from University of Notre Dame, and her PhD in Gender Studies from Indiana University.

Dr. Schalk’s interdisciplinary research focuses broadly on disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture. She has published on literature, film, and material culture in a variety of peer-reviewed humanities journals. For a detailed list of publications and awards, see Dr. Schalk’s CV (last updated May 2021). Find links to her articles and other writing here.

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.

Her second book Black Disability Politics (Duke UP 2022) explores how Black cultural workers have engaged disability as a social and political issue differently than the mainstream, white-dominated disability rights movement. In doing so, Dr. Schalk argues that because Black disability politics take on different qualities, the work has been overlooked or misrecognized within disability studies and Black studies alike. Using archival work on the Black Panther Party and the National Black Women’s Health Project, as well as interviews with contemporary Black disabled cultural works, the book offers a framework for both identifying and enacting Black disability politics for scholars and activists.

Dr. Schalk wears a silver dress with open shoulders and smiles holding a plaque with her name on it. Behind her is a curtain and there is a microphone on a stand to the left of her.
Dr. Schalk with her OutReach 2019 LBGTQ Advocate of the Year award (photo by Sam Waldron)

Dr. Schalk also writes for mainstream outlets, serves as a board member for Freedom Inc., and once twerked with Lizzo. She identifies as a fat, Black, queer, cisgender,  disabled femme. She is also polyamorous and a pleasure activist. You can follow Dr. Schalk  on Twitter.

Dr. Schalk is represented by CCMNT Speakers Agency. If you’d like to invite her for a talk, lecture, panel, or other event, please e-mail CCMNT at info@ccmntspeakers.com.

Bodyminds Reimagined

Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction is Sami Schalk’s first monograph, published by Duke University Press in March 2018. The cover art below is by Tahir Carl Karmali. It is a very detailed image, so please see these separate links for an image description and a link for a high resolution download of the cover image.

The image features a black person in the center from the chest up with dark skin, red lips, and deep hollows in their collarbones, looking to the left, the expression on their face relatively neutral. The person is wearing a sleeveless garment made on various technological parts in greens and oranges that appear to be computer hardware, gears, and perhaps a gun barrel at the center of their chest. The person's right arm is bare and the left arm is missing. On their face, they wear a number of hardware pieces, one circular over their left eye, which appears to be looking forward at the viewer, and the rest the same gun barrel type device, a motor and gears. On top of the figure's head are large rusted metal circles that create a halo effect and large, dirty silver metal pieces, looking similar to scissor blades, rise from the back of the person's head and off the top of the image. Next to the person are feathers that seem attached to their body in a wing pattern and red and black wires run from behind the person's head down and into the feathers. The feathers and wires take up the entirety of the bottom half of the image. In the background, in the upper portion of the image, there is a beautiful bright blue sky with white puffy clouds and a number of tall buildings, suggesting a major city is in the distance. At the bottom of the cover is the title of the book. The word BODYMINDS is large in white font stacked on top of REIMAGINED, in slightly larger font, though the "RE" is in orange font and IMAGINED is in white. Next to these stacked worked is my name SAMI SCHALK, also stacked in smaller greenish font. Beneath all of these words is the subtitle "(DIS)ABILTIY, RACE, AND GENDER IN BLACK WOMEN'S SPECULATIVE FICTION" in even smaller white font.
Cover of Bodyminds Reimagined

Publisher’s blurb: “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-slavery 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 non-realist contexts.”

Dr. Schalk smiles, wearing a shiny silver top and sitting in front of a table with a purple tablecloth, holding a copy of Bodyminds Reimagined
Dr. Schalk at her book launch party in March 2018

Read and listen to interviews with Dr. Schalk about the book:

Read the reviews:

“Schalk’s Bodyminds Reimagined is a trailblazing book” – Grace Gipson in Black Perspectives

“…the much-needed intervention in disability studies and black feminist theory that it promises to be…Bodyminds Reimagined is the book for our moment” – Anna Hinton in ASAP Journal

“What I appreciate most about the text is that it offers a novel way to look at Black women science fiction writers and makes their work legible as literature that should be taken seriously not only because of the beautiful worldmaking in the texts but also because of the kinds of theoretical contributions that are only discernible through the intersectional theoretical framework applied by Schalk.” -Moya Bailey in Feminist Formations Review

More reviews:

You can read the book’s introduction here. Plus, you can get the book at 30% off by visiting Duke University Press and entering coupon code E18BODYM during checkout. Once you’ve read the book, please support it further by adding reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

Interested in hosting a book signing or event? Contact CCMNT Speakers Agency at info@ccmntspeakers.com to submit an invitation or request.


Upcoming Talks, Lectures, and Conference Appearances

  • 2/13/23: Brown University (in person)
  • 2/16/23: Mt. Holyoke (in person)
  • 2/17/23: Smith College (in person)
  • 2/23/23: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (in person)
  • 3/2/23: Western University – Toronto (virtual)
  • 3/6/23: CUNY Graduate Center (virtual)
  • 3/7/23: University of Wisconsin – Whitewater (in person)
  • 3/8/23: SUNY New Patlz (virtual)
  • 3/23/23: UW-Madison GSCC (in person)
  • 3/28/23: Wake Forest University (in person)
  • 3/29/23: Salem College (in person)
  • 4/11/23: UCLA (in person)
  • 4/13/23: Pomona College (in person)
  • 4/19/23: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (San Francisco – in person)
  • 4/21/23: Millersville University of Pennsylvania (virtual)
  • Early May 2023: GIFCon (virtual)
  • Late May 2023: Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at York University (in person)
  • 6/9-10/23: Rock Ethics Institute Conference at Penn State (in person)
    Wide shot of Dr. Schalk on a darkened stage at the Octavia E. Butler Studies Conference at the Huntington Library. She is standing behind a podium in the lower right corner of the image, gesturing with her hand to the screen behind her. The large screen contains her talk title "Experience, Research, and Writing: Octavia E. Butler as Author of Disability Literature" in large font above her name, title and contact information in smaller font. At the bottom of the image a few heads of audience members are visible.

Click here to read and view media from previous events.

Want to invite Dr. Schalk for a talk or lecture? Please submit your request to CCMNT Speakers Agency at info@ccmntspeakers.com


You may contact Dr. Schalk through her agent CCMNT Speakers