Friend of the blog Mark Ashurst-McGee has agreed to share with us his 2010 AHA paper, which provides an overview of the arguments in Mark’s award-winning dissertation on Joseph Smith’s political thought. For those who don’t know Mark’s work, you should stop what you’re doing and start catching up now. He’s currently working as an editor on the Joseph Smith Papers. I’ve broken the paper into two parts. For full documentation, see the dissertation, “Zion Rising: Joseph Smith’s Early Social and Political Thought” (ASU, 2008) –DG
I would like to speak to the fundamental impulse within Mormonism to withdraw from the wider society into a sectarian “Zion”—as Joseph Smith called it—as well as the paradoxical necessity of political involvement to protect this separatist project. (more…)
Nate R. teaches American History to 8th graders and community college students in Colorado Springs. His MA Thesis on slavery in Utah won the MHA’s Best Thesis prize in 2008. His transcription of Joseph F. Smith’s Hawaiian diaries, titled “‘My Candid Opinion’: The Sandwich Islands Diaries of Joseph F. Smith,” is coming out in June.
In summer 2005 I was working as a researcher/writer for the Education in Zion Exhibit at BYU when the exhibit director, philosopher C. Terry Warner, called me into his office. He had been putting a lot of thought into it, he told me, and had decided to assign me to do the background research for one of the permanent Exhibit features: an overview of the life of Joseph F. Smith (EiZ is housed in the Joseph F. Smith Building). (more…)
Todd Compton’s name should be familiar to most serious students of Mormon history. For those unfamiliar with his work, see here.
While my book In Sacred Loneliness: the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Signature 1997) looks carefully at Joseph Smith’s plural wives in Nauvoo, most of the book deals with their lives before and after their marriage to Joseph. Many themes emerged as I wrote those biographies—the experience of living in polygamy in Utah, feminine sisterhood, feminine ritual administration (a theme recently treated in Jonathan Stapley and Kristine Wright’s magnificent paper in the latest Journal of Mormon History), widowhood, mother-daughter relationships, mother-son relationships. In this post I would like to look at one theme from In Sacred Loneliness that really haunted me: loss of a child or children. (more…)
I live a little over 4000 km from Jonathan Stapley which brings some unique challenges to researching and writing together. Once we had compiled hundreds of healing accounts, they were arranged in a document chronologically. We read through them separately, made notes and then had a couple of marathon phone calls to discuss our findings. During one phone conversation, we discovered multiple appearances of two healers who seemed to work together. Several references to a Sister Piper/Pyper and a Brother Patison/Patterson piqued our interest and led to deeper research into their stories. No familial connection was obvious – Christiana was married to Alexander Pyper and the mother of George D. Pyper who among other things managed the Salt Lake Theatre, was the leading tenor in the Salt Lake Opera Company and the editor of The Juvenile Instructor. Alvus Patterson had four wives, however he did have a daughter named Christiana. They received their patriarchal blessings from the same patriarch on the same day in February 1888.
Elvira Field is pretty much my favorite person in Mormon history—probably my favorite historical person ever! Elvira was awesome! She was a nineteenth century woman way ahead of her time—a feminist, a working mother, and a leader in the Strangite church.
Physically small and fragile, Elvira was not especially beautiful, but she had a brilliant mind and was unusually articulate. She loved plants and flowers, especially orchids, and knew their Latin names. She was also a dead-eye with a gun who could out-shoot most men. She frequently did, even when she was sixty-seven years old!
In 1831, when she was just a year old, Elvira’s parents were baptized into the fledgling Mormon church and moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Elvira and her family remained affiliated with the Mormon church, but moved to Michigan in 1837–38, instead of relocating to Missouri. After Joseph Smith Jr. was murdered in June 1844, the Field family supported the succession claims of James J. Strang rather than Brigham Young. (more…)
As part of our continuing series celebrating Women’s History month here at JI, Janiece Johnson, graduate student at the University of Utah, has contributed the following insightful look at one early Mormon woman’s religiosity.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Juvenile Instructor is planning a number of excellent posts on various aspects of Mormon women’s history. Earlier this month, Ardis S. spotlighted a recent article by Max on Jane Manning James and Jerri Harwell–two magnificent Mormon women of African descent, separated by time but not by faith. Today’s offering comes from Rachel Cope, who describes her recent visit with the last surviving Shaker women, and the impact of that experience on Prof. Cope’s approach to writing history and the importance of women and gender in our past. — David G. (more…)
J. Stapley needs no introduction. He’s been kind enough to join in on the seer stone/”magic” fe[a]st we’ve had here at JI this week.
Stan’s recent post on the use of seer stones by young women, reminded me of some sources relating to Brigham Young. Young is on record as saying that he was not a “natural seer” (see discussion in this post). I’m currently of the position that Brigham Young believed that he did not have the ability to use seer stones. As illustrated in comments while discussing some of his more controversial beliefs with the Salt Lake School of the Prophets, Young “said there were many revelations given to him that he did not receive from the Prophet Joseph. He did not receive them through the Urim and Thummim as Joseph did but when he did received them he knew of their truth as much as it was possible for them him to do of any truth.”  (more…)
David Golding is a PhD student in the History of Christianity at Claremont Graduate University and a co-editor (with Loyd Ericson) of the new Claremont Journal of Mormon Studies. He has been kind enough to share a little bit about this new publishing venture and a Call for Papers. (more…)
Kim Ostman recently defended his dissertation in comparative religion (available in full here), The Introduction of Mormonism to Finnish Society 1840-1900 at Åbo Akademi University and has been kind enough to share with us here the opening lecture from his thesis defense. Kim explains that “the public defence of a dissertation here in Finland consists of the opening lecture, the opponent’s (in this case Douglas Davies) brief general statement, a public ‘chat’/'roasting’ between the opponent and I for 1.5-2 hours, and the opponent’s final statement on the thesis and its defence.”
Kim has published a number of important pieces on Mormonism in Finland and is an excellent example of a European scholar carrying on fascinating research on Mormonism locally. A big congratulations on a completed dissertation and a thanks for sharing a these thoughts here at the JI. (more…)
Rachel Cope has a PhD in American History from Syracuse University and is a Professor of Church History and Doctrine in the BYU Religious Education Department. You can read more about her background in a previous post when she participated in the JI’s Women In The Academy Series. (more…)
David Golding completed an MA in the history of Christianity at Claremont Graduate University and is currently pursing a PhD in the same field. David was a fellow in this past summer’s Joseph Smith Summer Seminar at BYU during which he encountered the broadside reviewed below. We’re pleased to have him guest posting here today. For some previous discussion of this issue, see this summary of the BYU Studies issue with the Frederick G. Williams article and subsequent comments.
[This is a continuation of sorts of an earlier post on Native Americans and early Mormonism.--David G.]
Joseph Smith and the Code of Handsome Lake
Lori Taylor, Ph.D.
Lori Taylor has three degrees in American Studies: Ph.D. from the SUNY at Buffalo, M.A. from The George Washington University, and B.A. from Brigham Young University. Through all of those degrees, she chased down the ways people frame and reframe the cultural and historical tidbits from which they make deep meaning. The joy in historiography for Lori is the story that makes THEN interesting NOW.
In 1994, sitting in a Western-themed lodge in Billings, Montana, a friend and colleague told me a story that I spent the next several years hunting down. (more…)
I am pleased to welcome fellow Yalie Melissa Proctor as the next participant in this series. Her academic journey has led her through the worlds of Near Eastern Studies, philosophy of religion, and Mormon women’s history. Her interview reflects her passionate pursuit of her interests as well as her significant contributions to the study of Mormon women. (more…)
Here is Lisa’s self-introduction: I did my B.A. and M.A. in English at BYU, and I’ve just completed my PhD in English at the University of Houston. As part of my program, I also completed a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, and most of my work has been directly or indirectly concerned with feminist theory and women’s history. I’ve been in and out of the academy and the work force for the past twenty years while I’ve been raising kids, so those issues are very real to me. (more…)
Joanna Brooks is chair and associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. Recently, Joanna co-organized the “Our Voices, Our Visions” Mormon women’s literary tour with Holly Welker and writes dynamic creative nonfiction in addition to publishing academically. She writes a regular column, “Ask Mormon Girl,” at Mormon Matters. (more…)
Admin: Thanks to Jacob B. for this run-down of the recent Claremont Mormon Studies Conference.
This last Friday and Saturday (April 23-24, 2010) the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association held our biennial student conference at Claremont Graduate University. This year’s theme: What is Mormon Studies?
Ben recently asked me to review the conference. This was an excellent idea, and I wish I had had the presence of mind to take better notes in anticipation of a more thorough review. But I’ll try my best. I will make a few preliminary remarks first and then provide a summary of the presenters’ remarks, concluding with my final thoughts and impressions. My summaries will be mixes of the presenters’ papers and my thoughts and reflections. I frankly can’t do justice to the conference proceedings here but we’ll have 12 hours worth of video up at our website soon, where you can compare the proceedings against the actual accuracy of this review. We are also producing an on-demand DVD of the conference. The papers will likely be published in some forum as well. (more…)
Our third participant in this series, Jennifer Lane, is associate professor of Religious Education at BYU–Hawaii, where she has taught since 2002. She recently presented a paper titled “Subjection, Mastery, and Discipleship” at the seventh annual meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology. Jennifer’s interview reflects an academic path that has had some unexpected turns. However, along the way she has been supported by remarkable scholars, both male and female. She looks forward to responding to your questions and comments. (more…)
Taylor P. holds a MTS and receives a ThD (May, 2010) in New Testament and Early Christianity from Harvard Divinity School. His BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies is from Pace University. He currently works as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is a founder of the Mormon Perspectives Series in Boston and a main organizer for two recent conferences for Latter-day Saints in Religious Studies.
Lisa Miller’s Newsweek article “Harvard’s Crisis of Faith”
frames the need for religious eduction as driven by the fact that other people are religious. While the article appeals to secular resistance to the study of religion in the university, it also engages in the same kind of dismissal of the religious as worth taking seriously when she justifies ignoring the Harvard Divinity School faculty who teach courses “about belief from people who are, by tradition, believers.” (more…)
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We are tickled to hear from Sheila Taylor, who is currently finishing a doctorate in systematic theology at Graduate Theological Union. Sheila shares her journey from studying history to studying theology and reflects on what it is like to be a female scholar in a male-dominated field. (more…)
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