Scholar to Discuss Race, Disability, and the American Girl Brand at USC Upstate

March 22, 2018 at 10:00 am

Dr. Sami Schalk, assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will visit the USC Upstate campus on Thursday, April 5 where she will present “Race, Disability, and the American Girl Brand.” The presentation takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the Olin B. Sansbury, Jr. Campus Life Center, Room, 309, 180 Gramling Drive, on the USC Upstate campus.

She will discuss how disability appears in the American Girl brand, from their contemporary and historical fiction books to their dolls and doll accessories. Schalk argues that while American Girl has the most representations of disability than any other major toy brand, their representations still rely on several ableist tropes. She discusses how American Girl has made strides in increasing diversity and explores how the brand can better incorporate disabled girls.

Schalk’s research focuses on disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture, especially African American and women’s texts. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals such as Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Journal of Modern Literature, Journal of Popular Culture, Girlhood Studies, and African American Review.  Schalk’s first book, “Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction,” is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2018.

According to Dr. Cassandra Jones, assistant professor of African-American studies and the director of the African-American Studies Program at USC Upstate, “USC Upstate students will benefit from Dr. Schalk’s visit by having exposure to a scholar whose research supports African American Studies, exploring race and gender from additional disciplinary perspectives, and opportunities to acquire leadership skills and to learn about the social history of and current issues facing African Americans in the U.S.”

For more information, contact Cassandra Jones at 864-503-5622 or