Author Edward Larson to Speak at Williams College

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 28, 2017—Author and professor Edward Larson ’74 will present at Williams College about “The Legend and Legacy of the Scopes Trial” on Tuesday, April 11, at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium as this year’s Phi Beta Kappa Sterling Speaker. This event follows the special screening of the classic film Inherit the Wind on Monday, April 10, at 6 p.m. at Images Cinema. Both the screening and the talk are free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Larson will discuss the famous Scopes Trial depicted in the film Inherit the Wind, in which teacher John Scopes was taken to court in 1925 in Dayton, Tenn., for teaching the theory of evolution in violation of state law. Larson will compare the factual and fictional accounts of this trial and provide commentary about the cultural legacy of the trial and the film. He will discuss the portrayal of the trial as a “contest between science and religion,” and a “defense of intellectual freedom.” Inherit the Wind is widely considered “a commentary on the cultural wars that still plague America,” and this compelling classic features two-time Best Oscar winners Spencer Tracy and Fredric March.

Larson is currently the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law and University Professor of History at Pepperdine University. He is also the author of Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Debate Over Science and Religion, which won Pulitzer Prize for History in 1998, and tells the story behind the trial of John Scopes. Larson has also published other books on similar topics, including Creationism in the Classroom: Cases, Statutes, and Commentary, The Creation-Evolution Debate: Historical Perspectives, and Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. He has been featured in a number of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation and Guardian. Larson holds a B.A. from Williams College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Ph.D. in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin and a D.H.L. from the Ohio State University.

The Phi Beta Kappa Sterling Speaker is endowed to invite “a prominent and stimulating thinker in the field of religion, philosophy, political science or history… to promote a free exchange of ideas on a broad philosophical basis with respect to the relationship of man to himself, to God and his fellow man.” Additional co-sponsorship is from the Lecture Committee, the undergraduate neighborhoods, and the biology, history and religion departments.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at


Published March 28, 2017