Bodyminds Reimagined

(Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: Published: March 2018

Author: Sami Schalk

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Disability Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

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.


"Bodyminds Reimagined is a clear read, not bogged down with academic jargon. . . . The author approached the subject matter with care and thoughtfulness." — Bogi Takács, Bogi Reads the World

"It is now time to bring focus and attention to the works of Black women speculative writers and their subjects. Bodyminds Reimagined becomes the discovery that celebrates these writers and subjects, while challenging the status quo within speculative fiction and (dis)ability studies, and moves them from marginalized objects to realist representations." — Grace Gipson, Black Perspectives

“Sami Schalk’s highly anticipated Bodyminds Reimagined is the most significant contribution to literary and cultural disability studies in years. Appeals to scholars in critical race studies, queer studies, and social justice activism.” — Anna L. Hinton, ASAP/Journal

"Sami Schalk’s book is an important bridge between Black women’s science fiction and disability theorizing. Her work requires a reconceptualization of the boundaries of disability studies and African American literature as well." — Moya Bailey, Feminist Formations

"Bodyminds Reimagined boldly demonstrates the capacity of black speculation and experimentation to generate world-building visions that are inclusive and sustainable for multiply marginalized black subjects." — Petal Samuel, Public Books

"Bodyminds Reimagined is a compelling critical study . . . simultaneously accessible and complex, exhaustively sourced and fresh in its analysis. . . . Students, scholars, and fans of speculative fiction will be well served to familiarize themselves with this book." — Angela Rovak, Women's Studies

"Sami Schalk, through Bodyminds Reimagined, takes a revolutionary step in defining the black disabled person’s experience in literature and media by promoting examples of black disabled people in speculative fiction created by women of color; and by re-defining manifestations of intersectionality among disabled people of color."  — Timotheus "T.J." Gordon, Jr., Ethnic Studies Review

"Bodyminds Reimagined is a book for people who love speculative fiction. It’s a book for people interested in understanding representation in fiction. It’s a book for people interested in representation in real life and what it means to participate in a culture that acknowledges the experiences and contributions of everyone.  It’s a book for people interested in expanding their understanding of literature. And it’s a book for people who want to expand their understanding of the world." — Sarah H, Book People blog

"Bodyminds Reimagined is an important work on theorizing speculative fiction and the ways in which it can change perceptions, actions, and minds. A model for future intersectional scholarship, this book is well written and accessible." — Joshua Earle, Catalyst

"Wide-reaching. . . . Sami Schalk’s version of intersectionality emphasizes multidimensional entanglements that resist visual charting and static notions of identity. This version of intersectionality serves as a launchpad for new social formations." — Gabriella Friedman, American Quarterly

"In addressing absence—or, perhaps silence—Schalk offers the most paradigm-shifting challenge to what is speakable and unspeakable: the problem of linking blackness with disability and how to reframe our treatment of these categories. . . . Schalk’s text gives us new language to employ, destabilizing our critical vocabulary and creating theoretical templates for how we approach the black body as a space of expressive possibility—as opposed to one so often foreclosed by the racial scripts attached to it from centuries of racist discourse." — Rebecca Wanzo, American Literary History

"Bodyminds Reimagined encouraged me to check my own privilege, to think differently about identity, and to reimagine my small niche in the world. The book is that good in its confrontation of the status quo, in its analysis of marginalized peoples in estranged worlds. . . . When I refer to Schalk’s Bodyminds Reimagined as groundbreaking, I do not mean this lightly. . . . All libraries should stock this book on their shelves." — Isiah Lavender III, Science Fiction Studies

"Schalk opens up black representational traditions to disability studies in more interactive and engaging ways for reading the interplay of race and disability." — David T. Mitchell, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

"Bodyminds Reimagined brings together black feminist theory and disability studies to provide a refreshing intersectional reading of black women’s speculative ?ction. One of the strengths of Schalk’s analysis is her refusal to capitulate to binary thinking. ... [The] connections [she draws] make the book particularly timely; however, Schalk’s bridging of black feminist theory and disability studies will have a long-lasting impact." — Venetria K. Patton, Modern Fiction Studies

"Bodyminds Reimagined will appeal both to scholars and general readers. Schalk’s framework is simplified in a way that makes it digestible for those who may be unfamiliar with crip theory or intersectionality. With a slim frame, and at only four chapters, the book is inviting rather than intimidating. Schalk’s ability to sound both personable and professional is particularly enjoyable." — Anelise Farris, Extrapolation

"This is an important book. . . . Schalk has a lot of theory to explain and unpack in order to do the deconstructive, and reconstructive work she needs to do, yet her writing remains clear and comprehensible at all times. Her explanations of terms are exemplary, and work both for those embedded in one or more of the critical areas, and for newcomers to the theories she is deploying." — Polly Atkin, Fantastica

“In this smart and necessary book, Sami Schalk persuasively argues that black women's speculative fiction offers a rich archive of alternate framings of (dis)ability, race, sexuality, and gender that move us closer toward justice. Bodyminds Reimagined reveals how nonrealist representations can defamiliarize categories assumed to be self-evident, opening up new ways of thinking about methodology, trauma, metaphor, and politics. Schalk's work pushes all of us in feminist studies, black studies, and disability studies to reimagine how we understand minds and bodies moving though the world.” — Alison Kafer, author of Feminist, Queer, Crip


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sami Schalk is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prologue and Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction  1
1. Metaphor and Materiality: Disability and Neo-Slave Narratives  33
2. Whose Reality Is It Anyway? Deconstructing Able-Mindedness  59
3. The Future of Bodyminds, Bodyminds of the Future  85
4. Defamiliarizing (Dis)ability, Race, Gender, and Sexuality  113
Conclusion  137
Notes  147
Bibliography  159
Index  175
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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