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Previewing 2014: Looking Ahead to Forthcoming Books in Mormon History

By: Ben P - December 10, 2013

Last week I highlighted noteworthy books and articles in Mormon history from 2013. But today, I’m not here to talk about the past. Continuing a tradition from last year, this post highlights forthcoming scholarship slated to appear in 2014.

This is not a comprehensive overview; for that, we can only hope that Jared T. continues his prestigious and exhaustive series at his blog. (I will include a link to his post if/when it shows up.) These are merely those works that I’m personally excited for, which obviously reflects my own interests. I encourage you to share your own additions in the comments below. And just like any year, some of these volumes may slip out of 2014 and appear the following year; but at least they are nearing arrival.

Sadly, some of the books we are most excited for are still more than a year off. Two books currently being written by two of the most esteemed practitioners of American religious history—Kathleen Flake’s Mormon Matriarchy: Gendered Power in Antebellum America (University of North Carolina Press) and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females”: Faith and Kinship in Nineteenth-Century Mormon Diaries (Knopf)—are nearing completion, but it is still a tad early to start lining up outside of Benchmark Books for their release. Other exciting books by leading historians, including Kathryn Daynes and Sally Gordon’s history of the polygamy prosecutions, Daynes and Ben Bennion’s social history of polygamy, and Quincy Newell’s overview of Mormonism and racial minorities in the 19th century, are moving along steadily. And finally, we have a trio of fantastic biographies in the early stages, with Spencer Fluhman’s James Talmage, Steve Taysom’s on Joseph F. Smith, and Patrick Mason on Ezra Taft Benson.

But there is more than enough to keep our appetites satisfied before then. Without further ado…

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Columbia SourcebookTerryl L. Givens and Reid L. Neilson, The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormonism in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press, August 2014).

 Part of another prestigious university press series, this volume includes over a hundred primary documents pertaining to all facets of Mormonism in America. Will be especially useful in the classroom.

Terryl L. Givens and Philip Barlow, The Oxford Handbook for Mormonism (New York: Oxford University Press, Spring/Summer 2014).

Terryl said it went to press in the Fall, so it should arrive around Spring. 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.

Philip Barlow and Jan Shipps, Mormonism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, late 2014, early 2015).

Last year, Philip explained that 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.”

Terryl Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought, Volume 1: The Cosmos, the Divine, the Human (New York: Oxford University Press).

The first of likely two volumes, Terryl skillfully frames the ontological framework that 19th century Mormons created. Should be a foundational volume for Mormon historical theology.

Miranda Wilcox and John Young, eds., Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, April 2014).

The result of what was, by all accounts, a fantastic conference at BYU a couple years ago, this edited collection includes work from lots of bright scholars on a range of topics. Included among the chapters are those by JIers Christopher Jones, Stephen Fleming, and Matt Bowman.

KirtlandDavid Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, May 2014).

This should be a monumental book, not only for its fascinating topic but also its cutting-edge approach. David is a good friend of the blog, and this volume should be on everyone’s wish-list. Part of the official description: “David J. Howlett sets the biography of Kirtland Temple against the backdrop of religious rivalry. The two sides have long contested the temple’s ownership, purpose, and significance in both the courts and Mormon literature. Yet members of each denomination have occasionally cooperated to establish periods of co-worship, host joint tours, and create friendships. Howlett uses the temple to build a model for understanding what he calls parallel pilgrimage–the set of dynamics of disagreement and alliance by religious rivals at a shared sacred site. At the same time, he illuminates social and intellectual changes in the two main branches of Mormonism since the 1830s, providing a much-needed history of the lesser-known Community of Christ.”

Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford University Press, late 2014 or early 2015).

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.”

WivesPaula Kelly Harline, The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women (New York: Oxford University Press, June 2014).

Don’t worry, everyone—we’re sure to at least have one polygamy volume next year! Official description: “The Church of Latter-day Saints renounced the practice of plural marriage in 1890. In the mid- to late nineteenth century, however–the heyday of Mormon polygamy–as many as three out of every ten Mormon women became polygamous wives. Paula Kelly Harline delves deep into the diaries and autobiographies of twenty-nine such women, providing a rare window into the lives they led and revealing their views and experiences of polygamy, including their well-founded belief that their domestic contributions would help to build a foundation for generations of future Mormons. Polygamous wives were participants in a controversial and very public religious practice that violated most nineteenth-century social and religious rules of a monogamous America. Harline considers the questions: Were these women content with their sacrifice? Did the benefits of polygamous marriage for the Mormons outweigh the human toll it required and the embarrassment it continues to bring? Polygamous wives faced daunting challenges not only imposed by the wider society but within the home, yet those whose writings Harline explores give voice to far more than unhappiness and discontent. The personal writings of these women, all married to different husbands, are the heart of this remarkable book–they paint a vivid and sometimes disturbing picture of an all but vanished and still controversial way of life.”

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

Technically a 2013 arrival, but since it is coming out after my retrospect post I am including it here. 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.

C50Jedediah S. Rodgers, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, May 2014).

Coupled with the Nauvoo Council of Fifty minutes that should appear from the JSP in 2015, this volume should help bring attention to one of the most exotic aspects of Mormon history. (Personally, while I don’t think the C50 minutes will be as explosive as some expect, it will be a wonderful primary resource for understanding the intersections of political and religious thought in antebellum America) From my understanding, this volume from Signature will focus primarily on the Utah period.

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.

Craig Harline, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled But Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary (Eerdmans, July/August 2014).
A late addition, and not necessarily “history,” but Harline is one of the best historians that just so happens to be Mormon, and this should be an important memoir about his mission experience, published by a leading evangelical press.
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I think it’s safe to say that the future of Mormon history remains strong. So, what books are you excited about?


17 Comments

  1. Could everyone please stop publishing fantastic books, maybe for just a year or two, so that I can try and catch up? There’s a lot to be excited about and look forward to here.

    I’m particularly looking forward to David Howlett’s book, and obviously Paul Reeve’s long-awaited volume.

    Also, does Terryl Givens sleep?

    Comment by Christopher — December 10, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  2. This all looks wonderful, but I’m most excited for Reeve’s work. Thanks for putting this together, Ben, scholars of Mormonism have a lot to look forward to!

    Comment by J Stuart — December 10, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  3. Extraordinary.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 10, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  4. A great list, Ben. I think readers will be impressed by Paula’s innovative approach.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — December 10, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  5. Thanks for this Ben! And congrats to everyone. Any idea when Connell’s new book comes out?

    Comment by Amanda HK — December 10, 2013 @ 10:51 am

  6. I agree with Christopher. It is becoming increasingly difficult to describe my academic interests as having “one foot in Mormon Studies.” Impeccable lists like this make me want to splash in the puddle with both feet!

    Comment by Adam Powell — December 10, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  7. What a great list.

    Also, the Joseph Smith Papers plans to release the 3rd volume of the Documents Series in late 2014.

    Comment by Robin — December 10, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  8. I have to disagree with Christopher. A year or two would not be enough to try to catch up.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — December 10, 2013 @ 11:43 am

  9. Fantastic list–I look forward to the reviews, although I have already checked off a few I know I must read.

    Comment by Susan W H — December 10, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

  10. My book “The Life of Orson F. Whitney: Historian, Poet, Apostle; As Recorded in His Daily Journals” is due from CFI in June.
    Also, unless delayed, I suspect the 2014 BYU Church History Symposium selected papers volume on the globalization of Mormonism could be published by late 2014.

    Comment by Dennis Horne — December 10, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  11. I’ve updated the post to include Craig Harline’s forthcoming memoir, which should be really, really good.

    Comment by Ben P — December 11, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  12. Did you mean 2014 on the Harline memoir?

    Comment by Bryan Buchanan — December 11, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  13. Good catch! Yes I did. It is now corrected.

    Comment by Ben P — December 11, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

  14. What about D. Michael Quinn’s capstone of the trilogy on the Mormon Hierarchy, the one that concerns LDS Church finances? I understand it will be published by Signature next year.

    Comment by Dave Nelson — December 12, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  15. Dave: I hadn’t heard a firm publication date on that, and since it has been rumored for several years, I hesitate to list it until there was some solid information. I’ve since heard late 2014/early 2015, so if that is the case then it is yet another volume to look forward to.

    Comment by Ben P — December 12, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  16. Ben: I just messaged a source at Signature. He said the fall of 2014.

    Comment by Dave Nelson — December 12, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  17. […] Ben Park posted his list of “highlights of forthcoming scholarship” set to appear in 2014. On the Juvenile Instructor blog, Park lists a variety of narrative and […]

    Pingback by Signature Books — December 13, 2013 @ 7:09 pm