William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes “Monkey Trial”
The epilogue focuses on the reception of William Jennings Bryan’s anti-evolution arguments in the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925, in contrast to his reputation as a progressive reformer at the turn of the century. Bryan’s objection to being characterized as an animal with “monkey” ancestors in the Scopes Trial reveals both the racist subtext of jungle discourse and the hegemony of that discourse by 1925. Ridiculed by writers such as H. L. Mencken, Joseph Wood Krutch, and W. E. B. Du Bois, Bryan’s resistance to evolutionary theory is mocked in a way that signals a fracture between progressivism of various kinds and Christian fundamentalism: a fracture that was not nearly as evident at the turn of the century, but resonates today with debates over intelligent design, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology.
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