Shalk, Historicizing the Metaphors: Disability and Representations of Slavery

Dear all,

Please join us on Wednesday, October 7 from 1 PM – 3 PM in 509 O’Brian UB North campus for:

Sami Schalk
Historicizing the Metaphors: Disability and Representations of Slavery

Representations of slavery are often representations of scarred and injured black bodies regularly subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence. These are, in many instances, representations of people disabled by the racial violence of slavery and yet their images in contemporary literature are often read as only racial metaphors for the legacy that American slavery leaves behind. Disability studies scholars have argued against reading disability as purely a metaphor and have instead insisted upon the importance of disability as a material experience. This talk will discuss how a historicized approach to reading representations of disability and slavery can help us read these texts for both their metaphorical and material significance. Using Octavia Butler’s Kindred as an illustrative example, this talk will demonstrate that reading representations of disability both metaphorically and literally reveals just a few of the ways that the mutually constitutive oppressions of racism and ableism have colluded in American history.

Sami Schalk is an Assistant Professor of English at University at Albany. Her research focuses on the representation of race, gender and disability in contemporary literature. Sami’s work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly and Journal of Modern Literature and is forthcoming in the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. Her current book project explores the role of disability in black women’s speculative fiction.

Please distribute widely!

Hope to see everyone there,

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