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ERIC Number: EJ818619
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-1535-0584
Historical Truth and Film: "Inherit the Wind" as an Appraisal of the American Teacher
Riley, Karen L.; Brown, Jennifer A.; Braswell, Ray
American Educational History Journal, v34 n2 p263-273 2007
The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of the Scopes Trial based upon the film "Inherit the Wind" (United Artists 1960) and how it helped to shape the public's perception of teachers, within the context of historical accounts of the trial, including the trial transcript and daily reports from individuals such as H. L. Mencken, a journalist with the Baltimore Sun. When scrutinized, the film both shapes and reveals much about the public perception of American teachers during the 1920s. Its dialogue also speaks volumes about social divisions during the age commonly known as the "Roaring Twenties," when the distant voice of Victorian traditionalists was met by the frenetic cries of the modernists. In popular culture, "Inherit the Wind" has come to stand for the historical account of the classic legal drama between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan over the right to teach evolutionary theory in public schools. While "Inherit the Wind" raises the stature of lawyers by portraying Darrow and Bryan as legal giants whose brilliance captivated an entire town and the nation, it portrayed the catalyst to the drama, teacher John Scopes, as a helpless, pitiable character, powerless to act owing to his position as victim. Yet, when the actual account of the historical events surrounding the Scopes Trial is held up to the movie version, one sees a sharp contrast. Scopes is no longer the victim but one of the agitators. He not only survives the trial, but throughout it maintains a good relationship with fellow Daytonians. He makes the most of his involvement by cultivating friendships with scientists called upon by the defense team to testify at the trial.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A