Dr. Sami Schalk to give keynote address at 2024 Macksey Symposium

Photographic portrait of Dr. Sami Schalk
Dr. Sami Schalk

Dr. Sami Schalk, a scholar of disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture, will give the keynote address at the fifth annual Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium, to be held at Johns Hopkins University from March 21-23, 2024.

Entitled “504 and Beyond: Disability Politics and the Black Panther Party,” Dr. Schalk’s talk will detail the Black Panther Party’s involvement in the 1977 504 Sit-in and discuss it as a historical example of how Black cultural workers have engaged with disability as a political issue in ways that have sometimes been obscured in Black studies and disability studies alike.

Dr. Sami Schalk is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. She holds a BA in English (Creative Writing) and Women’s Studies from Miami University, an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in Gender Studies from Indiana University. She has published on literature, film, and material culture in a variety of peer-reviewed humanities journals.

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 University Press 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. 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.

The Macksey Symposium keynote address will be held on Friday, March 22, from 5:00 to 6:30 pm in the Hodson Hall Auditorium.

Dr. Schalk will also sign books for conference attendees on Saturday, March 23, from 9:00 to 10:00 am in the Gilman Atrium.

Please see the symposium website for a full schedule of events.

Undergraduate students currently enrolled in any two- or four-year college or university are invited to apply to present their humanities research at the Macksey Symposium. Submissions are open through December 8, 2023. See the application instructions here.