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Previewing 2013: A Look Forward to Exciting Books in Mormon History

By: Ben P - December 04, 2012

Yesterday I highlighted books and articles from the last year. But 2012 is nearly history now, so let’s look forward to the next year. What you’ll find below are the books I am most excited to appear in 2013 (or very early in 2014).

This list in no way attempts to be comprehensive. (For that, let’s all hope Jared T continues his legacy of fantastic and exhaustive “Recently Released and Forthcoming Books in Mormon History” at his new site.) Rather, this post just captures a number of titles I am really excited about–make sure to add to the list in the comments. And as is unfortunately common in the publishing world, there is a chance some of these titles may slip into the next calendar year, but at least we know they are not too far off.

It should be noted that a few authors I spoke with–Kathleen Flake (on gender and power in 19th century Mormonism), Kathryn Daynes and Sally Gordon (on polygmy convinctions), Daynes and Ben Bennion (on a social history of polygamy), Quincy Newell (on Mormonism & race in the 19th century), Laurel Ulrich (on faith, family, and polygamy), and Terryl Givens (on the development of Mormon theology)–are nearing completion on their manuscripts, but are unfortunately not slated within the next year. Other authors have also started new and exciting projects, including a number new biographical works–Patrick Mason on Ezra Taft Benson, Steve Taysom on Joseph F. Smith, and Spencer Fluhman on James Talmage, for instance–so we have things to look forward to in 2014 and beyond!

And without further ado, here are the books I’m most excited about:

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Elizabeth O. Anderson, ed., Cowboy Apostle: The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, summer 2013).

  • This is the latest in the enormously influential “Significant Mormon Diaries” series. Ivins, a pivotal Church leader in Utah and Mexico, kept voluminous records sure to privide fascinating details.

Philip Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion, second edition (New York: Oxford University Press, spring 2013).

  • From Phil: “This adds a chapter-length new Preface that reinterprets Joseph Smith and explores the implications of that reinterpretation for Mormon biblical use.  It also analyzes developments  in Mormonism’s relationship with the Bible during the past twenty years since the book was first published.”

Philip Barlow and Jan Shipps, Mormonism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, late 2013).

  • In Phil’s words, this book “aspires to  approach the topic [Mormonism] from imaginative angles.” In glancing at the outline, the provocative book includes chapters on General Conference, conversion, social changes in the 20th century, belief and ritual, and humanitarian efforts, to name a few. It sounds great!

Terryl L. Givens, Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myth, and the Construction of Heresy (New York: Oxford University Press, February 2013).

  • A new edition of Givens’s first book in Mormon history, Givens has, according to the publisher, “expanded the final chapter, shedding further light on the Mormon presence in contemporary American culture, with insightful discussions of topics ranging from the musical, The Book of Mormon, to the political campaigns of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.” I had the privilege to read the new expanded chapter at a seminar a few weeks ago, and assure you that it is brilliant and worth the re-read.

Terryl L. Givens and Philip Barlow, The Oxford Handbook to for Mormonism (New York: Oxford University Press, late 2013).

  • Part of a prestigious and respected series, this volumes brings together contributions from Mormon history’s brightest scholars. Will be a great way to analyze where the field currently is, how far it has come, and where it should go.
Terryl L. Givens and Reid L. Neilson, The Columbia Sourcebook for Mormonism in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press, late 2013).
  •  Part of another prestigious university press series, this volume includes over a hundred documents pertaining to all facets of Mormonism in America. Will be especially useful in the classroom.

Brian Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, vols. 1 & 2: History; vols. 3: Theology (Draper, UT: Kofford Books, 2013).

  • One thing’s certain: the book is bound to bring discussion. Here is Richard Bushman’s endorsement of the 3-volume series: “Brian Hales wants to face up to every question, every problem, every fear about plural marriage. His answers may not satisfy everyone, but he gives readers the relevant sources where answers, if they exist, are to be found. There has never been a more thorough examination of the polygamy idea.”

J.B. Haws, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Latter-day Saints and Public Perception from George Romney to Mitt Romney (New York: Oxford University Press, summer 2013).

  • Written as a dissertation at the UofU under Paul Reeve, Haws’s book is a sophisticated look at how Mormonism’s image has changed, adapted, and morphed in the American imagination. I recently heard him present on a portion of the book and was very impressed. Read an interview he did on the topic here.
David Howlett, Parallel Pilgrimage: Cooperation and Contestation at the First Mormon Temple (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, late 2013 or early 2014).
  • Abstract: “My work offers a biography of a sacred space, the Kirtland Temple. As the only temple completed by Joseph Smith, Jr. and the site of many of the founding events of Mormonism, the Kirtland Temple receives 30,000 Mormon pilgrims every year. Yet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not own the shrine. Instead, the relatively liberal Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) maintains the structure. Pilgrims from both denominations worship at the shrine and understand the site’s significance in strikingly different ways. Using the temple as a case study, my book provides a model for understanding the dynamics of religious rivalry at a shared pilgrimage shrine. In the process, my work details the history of an understudied liberal Mormon denomination that stands as the gatekeeper to one of Mormonism’s most hallowed shrines.”

Matthew Kester, Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

  • Abstract: “In the late nineteenth century, a small community of Native Hawaiian Mormons established a settlement in heart of The Great Basin, in Utah. The community was named Iosepa, after the prophet and sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph F. Smith. The inhabitants of Iosepa struggled against racism, the ravages of leprosy, and economic depression, by the early years of the twentieth century emerging as a modern, model community based on ranching, farming, and an unwavering commitment to religious ideals. Yet barely thirty years after its founding the town was abandoned, nearly all of its inhabitants returning to Hawaii. Years later, Native Hawaiian students at nearby Brigham Young University, descendants of the original settlers, worked to clean the graves of Iosepa and erect a monument to memorialize the settlers. Remembering Iosepa connects the story of this unique community with the earliest Native Hawaiian migrants to western North America and the vibrant and growing community of Pacific Islanders in the Great Basin today. It traces the origins and growth of the community in the tumultuous years of colonial expansion into the Hawaiian islands, as well as its relationship to white Mormons, the church leadership, and the Hawaiian government. In the broadest sense, Mathew Kester seeks to explain the meeting of Mormons and Hawaiians in the American West and to examine the creative adaptations and misunderstandings that grew out of that encounter.”

Quincy D. Newell and Eric F. Mason, eds., New Perspectives in Mormon Studies: Creating and Crossing Boundaries (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, early2013).

  • Publisher’s blub: “Scholarship in Mormon studies has often focused on a few key events and individuals in Mormon history. The essays collected by Quincy D. Newell and Eric F. Mason in this interdisciplinary volume expand the conversation. One of the main purposes of this volume is to define and cross boundaries. Part 1 addresses internal boundaries—walls that divide some Mormons from others. One chapter examines Joseph Smith’s writings on economic matters and argues that he sought to make social distinctions irrelevant. Another considers Jane James, an African American Latter-day Saint, and her experiences at the intersection of religious and racial identity. In part 2, contributors consider Mormonism’s influence on Pentecostal leader John Alexander Dowie and relationships between Mormonism and other religious movements, including Methodism and Presbyterianism. Other chapters compare Mormonism and Islam and examine the group Ex-Mormons for Jesus/Saints Alive in Jesus. Part 3 deals with Mormonism in the academy and the ongoing evolution of Mormon studies. Written by contributors from a variety of backgrounds, these essays will spark scholarly dialogue across the disciplines.”

Connell O’Donovan, The Lioness of the Lord: Letters of Augusta Adams Cobb Young to Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2013).

  • The more I hear about Augusta, the more fascinated I become. Truly a fascinating person, and her letters are sure to be a treasure-trove.

Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford University Press, late 2013 or early 2014).

  • This is how Paul describes what should be a fantastic study: “This book project, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, is currently under contract with Oxford University Press. It considers the ways in which 19th century- outsiders constructed Mormons as physically different. It argues that Mormons were racialized in ways similar to immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and suggests that the Mormon struggle for acceptance in the 19th century was not merely a political struggle for Utah statehood, but a social and cultural struggle for whiteness. Mormons contested ideas of physical degeneracy with discourses of physical superiority and thereby placed Mormon bodies at the center of racialized arguments over citizenship and religion.”

Jedediah S. Rodgers, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, late 2013).

  • While it will be interesting to see how this volume comes together with the most crucial minutes absent, this should be a helpful collection.

Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, Mo: John Whitmer Books 2013).

  • Ron is the former archivist for the Community of Christ, current director of the Kirtland Temple, and recently served a term as president of the MHA. He has already provided us with a number of fantastic articles and small monographs, but this will be a substative addition to the Mormon history field.

Konden Smith, Barbarism and the Kingdom: America’s Transformation from Redeemer Nation to Secular Republic, 1857-1907 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, late 2013 or early 2014).

  • Abstract: “Barbarism and the Kingdom: America’s Transformation from Redeemer Nation to Secular Republic, 1857-1907, examines a pivotal and volatile half-century of transition within the American religious and political national culture. Building off William T. Cavanaugh’s Myth of Religious Violence and David Chidester’s Savage Systems, this work deconstructs the secular and religious within this transformative period of American history and suggests a more complex and multifaceted reorientation of these terms within American religious historiography. In comparison with Catholics, Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, and African Americans, this work looks closely at the national responses toward Mormonism from the Utah War 1857-1858, the anti-polygamy crusades of the 1870s and ‘80s, the ambivalent presence (and non-presence) of Mormonism at the World’s Fair of 1893, and the agonizingly protracted U.S. Senate hearings about whether monogamist Mormon apostle/senator Reed Smoot could retain his seat (1904-07). This comparative analysis offers new insights into the meaning and limitations of American religious pluralism, the role of the secular within American religion, the theological expressions of religious liberty, the dynamics of minority choice amid national change, and a deeper understanding of America’s transforming national identity and culture.”

Konden Smith and Michael Paulos, eds., Reed Smoot: American Religion and American Politics (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, late 2013).

  • This edited collection on an important subject includes articles by Smith, Paulos, Gary Bergera, Michael Quinn, Kathryn Daynes, and more. Should be lots of fun.

And finally, there are three volumes of note, mostly on the Book of Mormon, coming from the Community of Christ crowd.

Dale E. Luffman, The Book of Mormon’s Witness to Its First Readers (Independence, Mo: CoC Seminary Press) 2013. Dale is an apostle.

Alan D. Tyree, The Book of Mormon in the 21st Century (Independence, Mo: CoC Seminary Press) 2013. Alan is a retired member of the First Presidency.

Mark A. Scherer, The Journey of a People: The Era of Restoration, 1820 to 1844 (Independence, Mo: CoC Seminary Press) 2012. Mark is CoC World Church Historian.

  • This is how good friend John Hamer describes these volumes: “For Community of Christ Seminary Press (which is our attempt to have a more scholarly nameplate attached to Herald Publishing House), we’re going to do something pretty exciting prior to World Conference (April 2013). We have three volumes treating the Book of Mormon. The first is Vol. 1 of Mark Scherer’s long awaited 3-volume history of the church, The Journey of a People. The first volume covers the period up to 1844 and Mark talks a lot about the origins of the Book of Mormon. We also have the two volumes whose covers I posted tonight. Alan D. Tyree’s “Millions Call It Scripture: The Book of Mormon in the 21st Century” is a summary of the “New Mormon History” challenges and deconstruction of traditional Book of Mormon ideas, presenting a spectrum of opinion approach of how different believers have accommodated those challenges. By contrast, Dale E. Luffman’s “The Book of Mormon’s Witness to Its Earliest Readers,” understands the book as 19th century scripture and uses its 19th century context to rediscover its teachings in context — in much the same way as Biblical criticism seeks to recover the original meaning of underlying source texts by putting them into their historical context. Taken together, these three studies should resoundingly answer the common myth that the Community of Christ has thrown away the Book of Mormon. Obviously, the reality is that we have a different and more nuanced view than our more literalist cousins. And also, because we take not having a creed very seriously, the church is publishing three very different perspectives at once to empower members explore and decide for themselves what they believe.”
  • Also expected this next year is the second volume to Mark Scherer’s history, as well as a compilation of brief autobiographies of RLDS women edited by Danny Jorgensen.

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I think you’ll agree that the field looks bright. Start saving up your money now!

What books are you most excited for?



26 Comments

  1. I’m very much looking forward to Don Bradley’s research on the Lost 116 Pages, to be published by Kofford in 2013, I believe.

    Comment by David T — December 4, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  2. Wow. These all look great. Thanks for the rundown, Ben. Congrats to all of those whose books are slated for publication next year!

    Comment by Christopher — December 4, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  3. Just went to the OUP site to see if there was a synopsis of the Haws book and came across this:

    Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West by Matthew Kester.

    “In the late nineteenth century, a small community of Native Hawaiian Mormons established a settlement in heart of The Great Basin, in Utah. The community was named Iosepa, after the prophet and sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph F. Smith. The inhabitants of Iosepa struggled against racism, the ravages of leprosy, and economic depression, by the early years of the twentieth century emerging as a modern, model community based on ranching, farming, and an unwavering commitment to religious ideals. Yet barely thirty years after its founding the town was abandoned, nearly all of its inhabitants returning to Hawaii. Years later, Native Hawaiian students at nearby Brigham Young University, descendants of the original settlers, worked to clean the graves of Iosepa and erect a monument to memorialize the settlers.

    “Remembering Iosepa connects the story of this unique community with the earliest Native Hawaiian migrants to western North America and the vibrant and growing community of Pacific Islanders in the Great Basin today. It traces the origins and growth of the community in the tumultuous years of colonial expansion into the Hawaiian islands, as well as its relationship to white Mormons, the church leadership, and the Hawaiian government. In the broadest sense, Mathew Kester seeks to explain the meeting of Mormons and Hawaiians in the American West and to examine the creative adaptations and misunderstandings that grew out of that encounter.”

    Comment by Craig M. — December 4, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  4. Sounds fantastic; thanks, Craig! Totally missed that one.

    Comment by Ben P — December 4, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  5. Yay on the Iosepa title. Kester’s article on the same topic is fantastic, and I’m excited for there to be a new edition of Givens’ book so I can actually afford it.

    Comment by Amanda HK — December 4, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  6. David Howlett has a book under contract with the University of Illinois press. I’m not sure if its to come out in 2013 or not. It’s titled, “Parallel Pilgrimage: Cooperation and Contestation at the First Mormon Temple.” His abstract: “My work offers a biography of a sacred space, the Kirtland Temple. As the only temple completed by Joseph Smith, Jr. and the site of many of the founding events of Mormonism, the Kirtland Temple receives 30,000 Mormon pilgrims every year. Yet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not own the shrine. Instead, the relatively liberal Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) maintains the structure. Pilgrims from both denominations worship at the shrine and understand the site’s significance in strikingly different ways. Using the temple as a case study, my book provides a model for understanding the dynamics of religious rivalry at a shared pilgrimage shrine. In the process, my work details the history of an understudied liberal Mormon denomination that stands as the gatekeeper to one of Mormonism’s most hallowed shrines.”

    Comment by Konden — December 4, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  7. Good call, Konden. I can’t believe I forgot David!

    Comment by Ben P — December 4, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  8. Haws/Reeve for cover-to-cover reading, but I’m really excited for the handbooks. I’m excited that those resources will be available for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

    Comment by J Stuart — December 4, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  9. My more extensive annual list is up at Mormon Church History. See here.

    Comment by Jared T. — December 4, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  10. Phenomenally helpful. Thanks, Ben!

    Comment by jack — December 4, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  11. “John Alexander Dowie”! That volume sounds absolutely awesome.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 4, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  12. As a non-Mormon historian with a nominal interest in Mormon history, this is extremely useful. Thanks.

    Comment by Mark C — December 4, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  13. Fantastic. Thanks.

    Comment by Mitchell — December 4, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  14. Well done and very helpful. Thank you, Ben!

    Comment by Karen — December 4, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  15. Thanks, all! Glad it could be of some service.

    Comment by Ben P — December 4, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  16. Looks like a great year! Thanks for putting this together!

    Comment by Laurel — December 4, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  17. I heard back from Phil Barlow who added two projects of his appearing this year: an updated version of his important Mormons and the Bible, as well as a book on contemporary Mormonism, co-authored with Jan Shipps, that we should all be excited about.

    I’ve also added a couple titles people mentioned here in the comments that I’m especially excited about.

    Comment by Ben P — December 4, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

  18. Todd Compton’s new biography of Jacob Hamblin is also due out this next spring or summer, I believe, something I am looking forward to.

    Comment by kevinf — December 5, 2012 @ 1:35 am

  19. Fantastic. Looks like I need to start badgering my university library in advance for some of these books!

    Comment by Saskia — December 5, 2012 @ 3:57 am

  20. I’m glad someone linked this, and the restrospective post, to me. However, as a historian whose research only tangentially touches on Mormonism, this can be overwhelming! What five books, either already released or forthcoming, would you recommend to someone primarily interested in religious history?

    Comment by Leigh — December 5, 2012 @ 9:00 am

  21. Almost certainly it will be the Oxford Handbook *of* Mormonism.

    Comment by Publius — December 5, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  22. Thanks, Publius!

    Comment by Ben P — December 5, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  23. Leigh: so many choices! For the five books that are most relevant to American religious historians, I would probably pick Fluhman’s, Reeve’s, Turner’s, Kester’s, Howlett’s, and Haws’–though I revised my short list numerous times, and still went with six!

    Comment by Ben P — December 5, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  24. […] the books in my forthcoming list for next year, there are new and expanded editions of two Mormon history classics: Terryl Givens’s Viper […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Books that Need New Editions — December 11, 2012 @ 9:53 am

  25. Ran into this on Amazon: Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830–1853 by Merina Smith. http://www.usu.edu/usupress/books/index.cfm?isbn=9173. I’d be interested to hear what anyone knows about it!

    Comment by Craig M. — December 18, 2012 @ 9:45 am

  26. Thanks for bringing that up, Craig; it wasn’t on any of our radars. It looks like it is a published version of her recently-finished dissertation. Hopefully we’ll have a review!

    Comment by Ben P — December 18, 2012 @ 10:58 pm