Two stories of the scopes trial: Legal and journalistic articulations of the legitimacy of science and religion

Lawrance M Bernabo, Celeste Michelle Condit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The 1925 trial of John Thomas Scopes for teaching evolution remains a vivid landmark in America's distinctive sociopolitical history. Although the verdict established no important legal doctrines and was muted eighteen months later by an appeals court decision, the case continues to symbolize the dominant American consensus about the legitimate roles of religion and science in national life. The trial stands as a potent cultural image of the boundaries between science and religion because, as a special type of legal event, it provided the locus for the negotiation between these powerful, competing social forces. To understand the way in which this popular trial functioned to reapportion the public arenas in which religion and science could legitimate public argument, we explore the Scopes trial through a theory of social process and with careful attention to the particularities of the discourse of both the trial and the journalistic coverage of the case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPopular Trials
Subtitle of host publicationRhetoric, Mass Media, and the Law
PublisherThe University of Alabama Press
Pages55-85
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)0817306986, 9780817306984
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

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