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Bioethics: Too Important to be Left to Bioethicists

Seminar Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Michael F. Bérubé

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature, President, Modern Language Association, Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, The Pennsylvania State University

Drawing on his work in disability studies and his experience as a father of a child with Down Syndrome, Bérubé will argue that an understanding of disability and human variation is critical not only for the humanities, but also for the life sciences and “applied” fields such as bioethics. Taking on the work of philosophers such as Michael Sandel, Julian Glover, Eva Kittay, Martha Nussbaum, Jeff McMahan, and Peter Singer, he will show that intellectual disability should be of crucial importance to intellectuals – and that our major intellectual traditions have largely failed to meet that challenge.


Michael Bérubé is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature; President, Modern Language Association; Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, The Pennsylvania State University, where he holds appointments in the Department of English and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. He is the author of seven books to date: Marginal Forces / Cultural Centers: Tolson, Pynchon, and the Politics of the Canon (Cornell UP, 1992); Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics (Verso, 1994); Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (Pantheon, 1996; paper, Vintage, 1998); The Employment of English: Theory, Jobs, and the Future of Literary Studies (NYU Press, 1998); What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “ Bias” in Higher Education (W. W. Norton, 2006) and Rhetorical Occasions: Essays on Humans and the Humanities (UNC Press, 2006). His most recent book, The Left at War, was published in 2009 by NYU Press. He is also the editor of The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies (Blackwell, 2004), and, with Cary Nelson, of Higher Education Under Fire: Politics, Economics, and the Crisis of the Humanities (Routledge, 1995). Bérubé has also written for a wide variety of academic journals such as American Quarterly, the Yale Journal of Criticism, and Modern Fiction Studies, as well as more popular venues such as Harper's, the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and the Nation. Life As We Know It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 1996 and was chosen as one of the best books of the year (on a list of seven) by National Public Radio.

Assigned Reading

Michael F. Bérubé, Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (Vintage, 1998)​


A reception will be held at 5pm at the UNE Art Gallery


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4335

6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public