Shala Barczewska Jan Kochanowski University “The 1925 Scopes Trial as a Discursive Event: Does reference to the 1925 trial affect our view of teachers in the contemporary debate over evolution?”


Recent developments in cognitive linguistics and corpus linguistics have found application in discourse analysis. One important contribution by cognitive linguistics is the role metonymy can play in carrying a discourse (Brdar–Brdar-Szabó 2007, Halverson–Engene 2010). What cognitive linguistics identify as metonymy, Jäger and Maier follow Foucault in calling a discursive event (2009, cf. Foucault 1972). This article is based on the premise that the 1925 Scopes Trial serves as a discursive event, or metonymical referent, for the continuous controversy over the teaching of evolution in US classrooms. The investigation addresses two related questions: How are teachers portrayed in online news stories covering the current debate on teaching evolution? What role does mention of the 1925 Scopes trial and the image of John Scopes play in shaping the way these teachers are depicted? These questions are discussed as a result of a corpus-based study of the positioning of teachers in articles written on the passage of a controversial Tennessee education bill in 2012.

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