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Journal Article

“You Are Here”: Missing Links, Chains of Being, and the Language of Cartoons

Constance Areson Clark
Vol. 100, No. 3 (September 2009), pp. 571-589
DOI: 10.1086/644631
Stable URL:
Page Count: 19
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“You Are Here”: Missing Links, Chains of Being, and the Language of Cartoons
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ABSTRACT Evolution cartoons served polemical and satirical purposes even before Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and they proliferated afterward. Yet even though Victorian evolution cartoons often pictured Darwin himself as a personification of his theory, by the time of the Scopes trial controversy in the 1920s cartoons about evolution had come to popularize ironically non‐Darwinian views of evolution. Cartoons repeated, reflected, and perpetuated teleological views of evolution and often implicitly associated evolution with prevalent attitudes about race, gender, and social hierarchies. Cartoons drew on old iconographic traditions, expanding them to fit changing historical circumstances, forming a lasting cartoon lexicon. Though adaptable and protean, the language of evolution cartoons, like any language, carries its history with it, and in them we can read the history of the cultural context of evolution controversies.

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