[Looks like a great program, including a smattering of JIers–always a good sign for a successful conference.]
Claremont Mormon Studies Conference
Community, Authority, and Identity
Claremont Graduate University
March 6-7, 2015
925 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711 (more…)
Posting Dates: 01/29/2015 – 02/27/2015
Job Family: Library, Research&Preservation
Department: Church History Department
The Church History Department seeks a full-time Writer/Editor who will be responsible for the research, writing, and editing of products associated with historic sites significant to the history of the Church.
A few weeks ago, I began to scan and catalog notes from previous research projects. One of my notes from a project on the development of the notion of the post-mortal spirit world caught my eye. It is a telegram sent from Heber J. Grant to Edna Lambson Smith, the wife of President Joseph F. Smith, in the wake of her son, Hyrum Mack Smith’s, death. I thought this note was a lovely expression of affection and empathy from Grant and don’t really have anything to do with it, research-wise. I figured I would post it here and see if it inspired somebody else. At any rate, it’s been exactly 97 years since the telegram was sent, and presumably, received. (more…)
Harline, Craig. Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled But Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Life Mormon Missionary. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2014.
Craig Harline, professor of European History at BYU, wrote a missionary memoir about his time spent serving in Belgium. As its title suggests, this is not a typical memoir of perseverance and triumph. No, instead Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary chronicles his time as Elder Harline in a real, self-deprecating, and occasionally raw manner.
[We are happy to pass along this CFP from our good friends who run the Mormon Studies Group at AAR. In my personal experience, these sessions usually include some of the most exciting work currently being done in the field.]
The Mormon Studies Group seeks proposals for full sessions or individual papers that consider any aspect of Mormon experience using the methods of critical theory, philosophy, theology, history, sociology, or psychology. This includes the use of Mormonism as a case study for informing larger questions in any of these disciplines and, thus, only indirectly related to the Mormon experience. For 2015 we are particularly interested in proposals addressing international Mormonism and which engage questions of globalization, imperialism, and decolonization. (more…)
Welcome back to our continuing series, where we answer questions about plural marriage. As always, there are actual questions from actual readers.
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
To what extent was Emma aware of the various sealings? Was Joseph actively deceiving Emma about the sealings? What do we know of the impact of polygamy on the Smith’s marriage? Do we know if divorce was ever seriously being considered?
Our friends in the Religion Department (Church History and Doctrine) at BYU are hiring adjunct faculty to teach a Doctrine and Covenants course this SUMMER term. (more…)
In many anti-Mormon cartoons from the 1880s (and a few before and after), the Salt Lake Tabernacle functioned as a graphic shorthand to communicate Mormon-ness. That is, from its completion in 1867 until sometime after the completion of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, the presence of the Salt Lake Tabernacle was one of the ways you knew you were in a (usually anti-) Mormon cartoon. In retrospect, the point seems rather obvious, but it surprised me a bit when I noticed so I wrote it up. (more…)
It’s that time of year, and MHA folk are reminding us to submit books and articles for their annual awards to be given at the conference in June. We would especially like to draw your attention to the following awards, and encourage everyone to submit your own work to the relevant categories. The deadline is February 1. (more…)
[A few months ago, we highlighted a recent article by Jared Hickman titled, “The Book of Mormon as Amerindian Apocalypse,” published in American Literature (the premier journal of its field). This was a long-awaited article, and was worth all the excitement. I’d argue it is one of the most sophisticated treatments of the Book of Mormon, from an American literary perspective, in quite some time. We are thrilled to offer the following Q&A with Professor Hickman, who was gracious enough to give very thoughtful responses to our questions.]
This has been one of those long-awaited articles that (probably unethically) passed around in manuscript form for nearly a decade. Could you describe the provenance and development of this important article?
Around 2005 or 2006, while still in graduate school, I was graciously invited by Richard Bushman—a cherished mentor from my days as a Smith fellow—to participate in a Book of Mormon roundtable in Salt Lake City. The idea was that this roundtable would eventuate in an Oxford Introduction to The Book of Mormon. As a Ph.D. candidate soon to face the bleak academic job market, I couldn’t turn down such an opportunity to beef up a meager c.v. Fortuitously, I had been teaching The Book of Mormon in Sunday school in our local ward—full of formidably smart and thoughtful people—and was thus reading it with a new level of rigor informed by my ongoing scholarly training. I found it speaking profoundly to both my research interests in religion, race, and American literature and my evolving spiritual proclivities. Its formal curiosities were suddenly apparent to me as never before, and I fancied I could see in its intricate narrative architecture theological and ethico-political possibilities that I at the time desperately needed. I wrote a draft at the tail end of a summer spent working in a one-room yellow-brick house that had formerly housed a plural wife and her family on my in-laws’ glorious patch of earth in Sanpete County, Utah. It was a summer that had in part been spent absorbing local lore about Chief Sanpitch and the Ute groups ousted by the Mormon settlers, including an outing to the reported site of Sanpitch’s tragic death, a boulder movingly inscribed with commemorative marks. I recall the initial composition process as an exhilaration—one of those rare alignments of will and circumstance. The essay seemed to go over well enough at the roundtable, but the projected volume never materialized, so I was left holding a long and idiosyncratic essay on The Book of Mormon that didn’t have a home. At my adviser’s suggestion, I sent it to a couple of journals in my field and received rejection notices, but richly bemused rejection notices that made me think I might have something if I could figure out how to make it a less quirky artifact of my own intellectual alchemy. So I put it on the back-burner. Then, in a pinch—when I didn’t have a dissertation chapter ready for workshop—I presented it in my American literature doctoral colloquium and was cheered by my non-Mormon peers’ enthusiastic response to it. For a brief time, the essay was up and available on the colloquium website, and many people seem to have gotten hold of that very early (and, frankly, embarrassing) version of the essay. Over the ensuing years, I thought about it now and again and tinkered with it here and there, but I had other, more pressing projects to work on. After years of encouraging e-mail queries about it from readers of the online version that had circulated, I finally got my act together and got it in good enough shape to submit to American Literature. The review process was especially rigorous—for which I am most grateful—and forced me to translate the essay in important ways that I hope make it a valuable contribution not only to Mormon studies but American literary studies. (more…)
Announcing the 2nd Annual Wheatley 2015:
The 2nd Annual Wheatley “Faith Seeking Understanding” summer seminar will run from June 22 through July 10, 2015. It is being sponsored by the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University and is under the direction of Professor Terryl Givens, Wheatley Fellow and Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. From the announcement:
What are the general contours of Christianity’s efforts to find a marriage of belief and intellect? Does Mormonism face the same challenges as the broader Christian tradition? What are the contributions of Mormon theology to current debates in the political and cultural realms? How reasonable are LDS positions on the family, marriage, pro-life and end of life issues? Is the Mormon theological tradition an asset or a handicap in the public sphere? With what mix of revealed truth and rational discourse can Mormons best address these issues in public debate?
Students in the seminar will spend three weeks addressing these and related questions. Along the way they will survey illustrative moments in Christianity’s engagement with secularism, and examine pivotal Mormon theological understanding of such concepts as agency, the eternal soul, embodiment, and human potential and purpose. Invited guests from inside and outside the Mormon tradition will share experiences related to religiously informed participation in the public square. The purpose is to foster Latter-day Saints who are better equipped to participate effectively in society-wide conversations where LDS values are relevant and at stake. The seminar will culminate with student-authored position papers to be presented in a public symposium.
The Wheatley will provide $1500 stipend to seminar participants, along with a housing allowance. The seminar will meet on Brigham Young University campus for two hours a day, generally four days a week. Students will be expected to devote full time to the seminar during its three week duration. Applications are invited from upper level undergraduates or graduate students in all disciplines.
Additional details and an application form can be found by clicking the title above. The application deadline is March 15, 2015 and notifications will go out by March 31, 2015.
Julie K. Allen joined the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. She received her PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 2005. Her research focuses on questions of national and cultural identity in nineteenth and twentieth century Danish, German, and Scandinavian-American culture. (more…)
Joseph Smith Papers Project Internship
The Church History Department announces an opening for a one-year internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project. This will be a part-time (28 hours a week) temporary position beginning in March 2015.
Duties will include research related to document analysis (textual and documentary intention, production, transmission, and reception) and to contextual annotation of documents (identifications and explanations). Research will involve work in primary and secondary sources for early nineteenth-century America and early Mormonism. Work will include general assistance to volume editors.
• Bachelor’s degree in history, religious studies, or related discipline, with preference given to those with master’s degrees and/or in doctoral programs.
• Possess excellent research and writing skills.
• Ability to work in a scholarly and professional environment.
• Requires both personal initiative and collaborative competence. (more…)
A few weeks ago, I posted my review of Jedediah Rogers’s new book, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Signature, 2014). Today, we are pleased to feature a Q&A with the author. Enjoy!
What first grabbed your attention about the Council of 50?
The devil is in the detail, as they say, so while I was familiar with some of the council’s larger themes, it was the little things that struck me: the council prohibiting “cutting Spanish rusty” or converting corn into whisky; Hosea Stout wittily suggesting in an April 11, 1883, meeting that a legal defense for a bigamist might be that “he cohabited with only one at a time”; Moses Thatcher’s reported opposition to “the proposition to anoint John Taylor as Prophet, Priest and King”; and so on.
More generally, I was grabbed by the tension between rhetoric and reality. The council discussed grandiose ideas—playing a pivotal role in the End Days, working to elect Joseph Smith as U.S. president, destroying an army and navy with an invention of “liquid fire”—that to some modern observers may seem absurd. Council members, interestingly, seemed to have thought them all probabilities. Council deliberations sometimes contained violent rhetoric, including some early utterances by Young on the doctrine of “blood atonement,” while simultaneously centering on the millennial dream of a utopian society. Historiographical debates suggest another dynamic: was the council a mere symbolic formality or did it represent the Mormon quest for real political power? Like most things historical, the answer in this case is not either/or. (Mike Quinn cautions historians not to confuse symbol and substance; indeed, within the structure of Mormonism the Council of Fifty was subservient to the First Presidency and the Twelve, at least under the reigns of Young and Taylor. Taylor’s anointing, Quinn argues, is a prime example of the symbolic nature of the Fifty. Still, readers will find ardent rhetoric of council members convinced they were part of something grand operating in the temporal realm. And we must not downplay the significance of the council in organizing and leading the trek west and as the governing body in the Salt Lake valley from 1848 to 1850. While their minds may have been, at times, hovering in the clouds, they also worked in the soil, and they expected results from their labors.) (more…)
Keep an eye out, now! A small handful of roundup links on matters of interest from the past few weeks…
TLC’s My Husband’s Not Gay
Just when you’d thought we’d exhausted all the angles for a Mormon-related reality series, we now have My Husband’s Not Gay, from TLC (of Sister Wives and My Five Wives fame). Shot in Salt Lake City, My Husband’s Not Gay premieres tonight at 10 ET, and reportedly it revolves around the lives of four LDS men who, despite feeling attraction to men, do not identify as homosexuals. Indeed, three have chosen (presumably on the basis of their religious convictions) to marry women, and the show will trace the conflicts between sexual desire, human identity, and religious conviction.
In anticipation of the premiere, the show has generated a fair bit of controversy. Gay advocates have turned up the heat on TLC, denouncing the show as “downright irresponsible”; “dangerous for LGBT people”; and “damaging for Mormons, especially gay Mormon youth.” A sizable campaign has also been petitioning for the show’s cancellation. TLC, for its part, shrugged off the criticism earlier this week, and the LDS Newsroom struck a moderating tone. On the basis of his critic’s sneak preview, NYT TV critic Neil Genzlinger characterizes the show as classic incendiary reality tv, although he does note “a few interesting and genuine-sounding moments in which the couples or their friends explore the collision of faith and feelings.” Those kinds of enlightening moments, however, he expects to be inevitably “drowned out.”
Other multifarious tidbits:
Peggy Fletcher Stack reports on Ordain Women‘s new photo illustration series envisioning female officiation in priesthood ordinances.
Regional media continue to track the unfurling of the Book of Mormon musical across the country in smaller markets, the responses of Latter-day Saints and the Church’s proselytizing response.
A new (and largely nonplussed) review of Avi Steinberg’s recent “bibliomemoir” The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Kansas City, Missouri.
P.S. To all last-minute applicants for the Maxwell Institute’s Mormon Theology Seminar, 2015, a reminder that Jan. 15 is your day of reckoning.
A few weeks ago, Ben published a round up of the best books published in Mormon History in 2014. This week, we are publishing a list of the forthcoming books. There are some amazing books coming out this year. Paul Reeve has already published his long awaited Religion of a Different Color as a Kindle Book. A hardback book will be out within a month. Thomas Carter’s emphasis on the material world offers a fascinating change of pace from the work that is usually published within Mormon history. His book promises to help us understand how Mormon theology affected the physical settlement of Utah. Signature Books was unable to produce a list of forthcoming books but as you will see, provided some interesting rumors. (more…)
Columbia University, New York, April 9 – 10, 2015
Deadline: Jan 23, 2015
Call for Papers: Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures
Hosted by: Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology and Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York, NY. Co-Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the American Print History Association. (more…)
2016 Church History Symposium
Beyond Biography: Sources in Context for Mormon Women’s History
March 3–4, 2016
Scholars of Mormon women’s history have long demonstrated a commitment to and an interest in biography. The resulting narratives have helped to recover and preserve voices that would have otherwise been lost to modern awareness and have allowed us to sketch the outlines of Mormon women’s experience over the past two centuries. The 2016 Church History Symposium will build upon past biographical work and push our understanding forward by addressing the following questions: How might we employ archival and other sources to create more complete and complex pictures of Mormon women’s history? How might we consider what individual lives mean within their broader contexts? How will these approaches expand or recast our understanding of Mormon history? (more…)
In today’s post I will look at three images published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in the early 1880s that focus on the alleged plight of female converts to Mormonism from rural Europe.  All three are familiar to modern scholarship. To avoid going on too long, I will put the detailed descriptions in the footnotes and mention a few key points in the main post. (more…)
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I’m no New Testament scholar. At all. But I had to look a few things up for my dissertation in my attempt to trace ideas in Joseph Smith’s teachings and revelations. In particular, Joseph Smith made some interesting statements about Jesus that were very much at odds with Protestantism. A handful of ideas in particular stood out and overlapped: that Jesus became God during His life, either through his baptism or through an additional temple rite and that Jesus did so even though he was a pre-existent deity. And I found it interesting that Morton Smith made all these same claims. (more…)