Acclaimed essayist to discuss assisted suicide

Nancy Mairs, an acclaimed essayist confined for many years to a wheelchair, discusses Life’s Worth: Rethinking Who Lives, Who Dies in the annual Bertha May Bell Andrews Memorial Lecture in Ethics and Education at Bates April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Benjamin Mays Center. Also on April 20 in the Mays Center, at 4 p.m., Mairs will read from her recently published book Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled. The public is invited to attend both events free of charge.

Mairs, a regular columnist for The Christian Century, will explore the topic of assisted suicide in the broad context of the communal life in the late 20th century, according to Bates College Chaplain Kerry Ann Maloney.

As a woman who has lived with multiple sclerosis for 30 years, the last 10 of them in a wheelchair, Mairs wrote, “A life commonly held to be insufferable can be full and funny. I’m living the life.” The New York Times Book Review called Mairs “a relentlessly physical writer, as fiercely committed to her art as to her spiritual development.” The San Francisco Chronicle called her essays “so touching and heartbreakingly honest that one often has to put the book down and rest emotionally before reading on.”

Winner of the 1995 EDI Media Award for Print Journalism, Mairs is the author of several books, including Voice Lessons (Beacon Press, 1997), Ordinary Time (Beacon Press, 1994), Remembering the Bone House (Beacon Press, 1995), Plaintext (University of Arizona Press, 1992) and Carnal Acts (Beacon Press, 2 ed., 1996). She lives in Tucson, Ariz., with her husband, George.

A fixture at Bates since 1975, the Andrews Lecture is a memorial to Bertha May Bell Andrews, who served on the Bates faculty from 1913 to 1917 and established the women’s physical education program at the college. The lectureship was established by her son, Dr. Carl B. Andrews of the Bates class of 1940.

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