Mormon History and Mormon Studies at AAR 2017

By November 17, 2017


Here are the Mormon History and Mormon Studies Panels/Receptions at AAR 2017. If you’re interested in writing a post sharing your experience at AAR, please email joseph dot stuart at utah dot edu.

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Mormon History Association Call for Papers [DUE NOVEMBER 15]

By November 10, 2017


Mormon History Association

Call for Papers – 2018 Annual Conference

“Homelands and Bordered Lands”

The fifty-third conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 7 – 10, 2018, at the Boise Centre Convention Center and nearby Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho. The 2018 conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” raises questions about how borders both disrupt and generate ideas about individuals’ and communities’ “homes,” broadly construed. The theme highlights the ways in which the dynamic interactions between peoples, places, and identities have always been central to Mormon histories.

The conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” connects the history of the Latter-day Saints to Idaho’s diverse past. Idaho is first and foremost a Native homeland. The first Mormon settlement in the Idaho was created near present-day Salmon, Idaho, at Fort Lemhi in 1855. Immigration by Mormons and other Euro-Americans caused conflict with Native communities and led to the depletion of natural resources as well as outbreaks of violence. On the other hand, there have also been many instances of cooperation and mutual respect between the various communities.

Idaho has also always been a place where the boundaries of Mormon identity have been negotiated. The state has been a refuge and highway for those seeking to practice plural marriage. Polygamy contributed to a pronounced strain of anti-Mormonism in Idaho politics and law in the late nineteenth century. Idaho also has a healthy tradition of Mormon education, intellectualism, and dissent. Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho, has been foundational in LDS higher education. Furthermore, Leonard Arrington was born in Twin Falls and graduated from the University of Idaho, Sonia Johnson was born in Malad, Maxine Hanks attended Ricks, and the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives was founded in Boise.

While Idaho provides a rich tableau for the study of Mormonism in the context of the state’s history as a multiracial, multi-ethic, and multireligious place, we also seek papers and panels that address the theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” from any vantage point in the Mormon past. In addition to papers and panels that address the conference theme, the program committee also welcomes proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

Since its founding in 1965, the Mormon History Association has been dedicated to the promotion of intellectually rigorous, diverse scholarship on the history of the Mormon tradition. To help us create a welcoming space that embraces work from a wide variety of methodological and religious viewpoints, we encourage individuals to organize panels for the 2018 Conference in Boise, Idaho, that include presenters from a variety of institutional, social, and religious backgrounds. The program committee will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of the historical profession by featuring women and underrepresented minorities. [Bold added]

The Mormon History Association intentionally embraces both academic and amateur historians. The conference organizers encourage submissions that think outside of the traditional format for conference sessions. We encourage people to organize roundtables, “cafés” in which participants are arranged in small groups to discuss a topic, pre-circulated papers, and so forth. Additional ideas for alternative session formats can be found at: http://solveforinteresting.com/category/good-conference/event-sessions/

Please send 1) a 300-word abstract for each paper or presentation and 2) a brief 1-2 page CV for each presenter, including email contact information. Session proposals should also include the session title and a 300-word session abstract, along with a confirmed chair and/or commentator, if applicable.

Previously published papers are not eligible for presentation at MHA. An individual may only submit one proposal as a session presenter, although it is acceptable for a presenter in one session to be a chair or commentator in another. Limited financial assistance is available to some student presenters and presenters from less economically-developed nations. Those who wish to apply for funding should include estimated travel expenses with their proposals.

The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2017. Proposals should be sent to the program co-chairs at mhaboise2018@gmail.com. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made by December 15, 2017.

Please mark if you are attending the 2018 MHA Conference on Facebook HERE.


Mormon History Books for Comprehensive Exams?

By November 1, 2017


Welcome to a new series at Juvenile Instructor entitled “The Gathering.” In this series of posts, several JI-ers will respond to a single question posed by another JI blogger. If you have a question you’d like to submit, please post it as a comment at the bottom of this post. 

If you could assign two books on Mormonism to be read for a US History comprehensive exam, what would they be?

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MHA Paper Proposal Networking Thread

By October 30, 2017


The deadline for the Mormon History Association’s annual conference in Boise, ID is coming up in about two weeks on Wednesday November 15th. The deadline is significantly later than usual so I trust that most of you are prepared and have already submitted. If not, no worries! There is still time.

The call for papers says:

While Idaho provides a rich tableau for the study of Mormonism in the context of the state’s history as a multiracial, multi-ethic, and multireligious place, we also seek papers and panels that address the theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” from any vantage point in the Mormon past. In addition to papers and panels that address the conference theme, the program committee also welcomes proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

In other words, Idaho is a fascinating place to explore the evocative theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” BUT the conference organizers will also welcome proposals on any area in Mormon history.

At MHA, as with other conferences, proposals for panels (consisting of a chair, three presenters, and a commentator) are much likelier to be accepted than individual papers. The first reason for this is that the program committee is made up of volunteers and shuffling all the papers to fit into cohesive panels would takes a lot of work. Secondly, unified panels enable both the audience and commentator to draw thematic threads throughout the presentations. Individual papers will still be considered but organizing a panel will significantly improve your chances.

I also want to draw your attention to the following part of the call for papers: “We encourage people to organize roundtables, “cafés” in which participants are arranged in small groups to discuss a topic, pre-circulated papers, and so forth.” In other words, a good panel proposal does not have to consist of a chair, three presenters, and a commentator. You could propose a roundtable on professional development issue or under-explored methodology that is relevant to Mormon History. For other ideas look here.

What does a compelling abstract look like? A few years ago JI contributor Ben wrote a post where he summarized what conference organizers look for in a proposal. Y’all should read the whole post, but let me liberally quote some of the most important points.

  • When providing a description of your proposed paper, be as specific as you can about your topic, your approach, and your potential findings. It is not reasonable for you to have your entire paper written at this time—heaven knows we all submit paper proposals as a way to jump-start future research—but it is pretty obvious when a proposal is written without much thought. As a program committee, we want to know that you have given the topic serious thought, that you are familiar with the sources you will consult, and that this is something that will turn out to be a fine finished product. Put simply, your paper proposal should not be something you write on a whim an hour before you submit it, perhaps with a bit of academic jargon thrown in, but should rather be a reflection of your engagement with, knowledge of, and excitement for your topic.
  • …Both the paper and panel proposal should cover what makes your submission relevant. What will be new in these presentations? What stories are you telling that have previously been ignored? How are they filling a space in the field previously overlooked? We sometimes like to cover the same stories, arguments, and theories again and again, so it is crucial to show what is going to be novel and important in these new presentations.
  • In putting together your panels, try your best to be as diverse as possible. This diversity includes not only demographic background, though that is always important, but also institutional or occupational backgrounds. For example, a panel on a particular person or event could include papers from an academic professor, a public history employee, as well as an interested observer. And it is always to crucial to ask if your panel could benefit from a different gender or racial perspective, a sensitivity that MHA has recently tried to address more frequently.

In an effort to help you through the difficult task of organizing a panel we want you to use the comment section of this post to network and find fellow panelists. Please summarize your idea for your paper. If others have similar ideas they can get in touch via the JI moderators.

Happy writing everyone!


THE JOSEPH SMITH PAPERS RELEASE DOCUMENTS 6: FEBRUARY 1838-AUGUST 1839

By October 26, 2017


Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, edited by Mark Ashurst-McGee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Alexander L. Baugh, and Brenden W. Rensink.

 

The ink was barely dry on the sixth volume of the Documents series of the Joseph Smith Papers when I was able to meet with three of the very capable editors of the volume—Mark Ashurst-McGee, David Grua, and Elizabeth Kuehn. That week I also heard JI’s own, David Grua, lecture on the Liberty Jail letters. It was all a lot to take in. In the time that has passed, I’ve been able to understand the depth and breadth of this volume a little better. The Missouri experience looms large in the Mormon memory and the contribution of this volume is essential to our understanding of this critical period—though it will take a very long time to take it all in.

This tome is the largest volume thus far in the Papers project. Its 776 meticulous pages cover just 19 months in four sections. Add the front matter and you’re over 800 pages. (Let’s hope the binding can hold up.)

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REVIEW: Alford, Utah and the American Civil War

By October 25, 2017


Kenneth L. Alford, ed., Utah and the American Civil War: The Written Record (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2017).

There are several books on Utah’s place in the Civil War, but until recently, there was never book that held all of the documents related to the war in Utah Territory. Kenneth Alford, Professor of Church History and Doctrine and Brigham Young University, has created a documentary volume that places all of the documents from the Official Records of the Civil War (OR) from Utah Territory and letters, reports, and other texts in a single volume.

Utah and the Civil War has five chapters, each of which are useful to history buffs and to academics. In the first chapter, Alford provides a summary of Utah Territory’s place in the American Civil War, including the service of the Lot Smith Company. Alford’s clear and lively narration helps readers to see that multiple parties competing for power and influence in the Territory, as well as Utah’s position as a political hot potato in the rest of the country. The second chapter gives a brief overview of the creation of the 128-volume Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Chapter Three explains the background of the Civil War Records created in Utah Territory.

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Which aspect of Mormon history needs to be studied through the framework of “lived religion?”

By October 24, 2017


Welcome to a new series at Juvenile Instructor entitled “The Gathering.” In this series of posts, several JI-ers will respond to a single question posed by another JI blogger. If you have a question you’d like to submit, please post it as a comment at the bottom of this post. 

Which aspect of Mormon history needs to be studied through the framework of “lived religon?”

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BREAKING NEWS: LDS Church to Publish the William Clayton Diaries

By October 20, 2017


At a conference sponsored by the Joseph Smith Papers Project (JSPP), LDS Church History Department (CHD) Director of Publications Matt Grow announced the publication of the William Clayton diaries. They will transcribe and annotate the volume, just like the Joseph Smith Papers volumes.

THIS IS ENORMOUS NEWS!

Some may wonder why this announcement is such a big deal. Long story short, the Clayton Diaries hold key information about plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s religious workings. While excerpts have been available for some time in publications, notably Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s new book on plural marriage, they have not been available to the public, or even to most researchers. This will allow future projects to better understand the last years of Joseph Smith’s life. This is one of the best sources to understanding Joseph Smith’s personal life, thoughts, and activities in Nauvoo.

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Call for Applications – 2018 Mormon Theology Seminar

By October 12, 2017


The Fifth Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology
“Are We Not All Beggars? Reading Mosiah 4”
Cittadella Ospitalità, Assisi, Italy
June 17–June 30, 2018

Sponsored by the Mormon Theology Seminar
in partnership with
The Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies,
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship,
and the Wheatley Institution

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Review: The Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries of Amasa M. Lyman, 1832-1877

By October 11, 2017


Scott H. Partridge, ed., The Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries of Amasa M. Lyman, 1832-1877 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2016).

Thirteenth Apostle is the first of Signature Books’ Legacy Series, which replaces their award-winning and incredibly valuable Significant Mormon Diaries Series.[i] They chose an excellent set of diaries to begin the Legacy Series. Not only was Lyman an apostle, his sons and grandsons became apostles, and more recently, his great-great grandson James E. Faust served in the LDS First Presidency. The Lyman family have shaped, and continue to shape, the religious and intellectual life of Latter-day Saints.

I first became acquainted with Amasa Lyman while reading Ron Walker’s Wayward Saints: The Social and Religious Protests of the Godbeites against Brigham Young. Lyman is a major character in Walker’s work, an apostle, apostate, and seemingly, a man that never quite fit in either religious or philosophical circles. Lyman’s association with the Godbeites led to his excommunication from the LDS Church in 1870.[ii] Still, most readers will come to the diaries looking for information on the paths that led to his excommunication and later affiliation with the Godbeites and Spiritualists. On the first two accounts, readers will be disappointed. Regrettably, the diaries from Lyman’s time with the Godbeites are not available or do not exist.

Lyman’s life is much more interesting even than his affiliation with the Godbeites. He served multiple missions, joined the first group of Latter-day Saints that received the sealing ritual, was sealed to one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives, helped to settle San Bernardino, and labored as an apostle. His rich life is only hinted at in the diaries themselves; however, historians are sure to be able to use Lyman’s diaries to illuminate the broader world of nineteenth-century Mormonism.

Readers are able to see the ways that Lyman was comparable to other Latter-day Saint men at the time—he served missions, he spent a lot of his time in travel, and pontificated on theology (including a controversial sermon that denied the necessity of Christ’s atonement). He participated in the Spiritualist Movement, and claimed to have spoken to his daughter about “the cancer with which he [was] afflicted” among other topics.[iii] I found Lyman a fascinating figure and immediately wished that Lyman had been able to Tweet during his lifetime. Heck, I would have even settle for following him on Facebook.

Lyman’s life, as much as any other apostle, reveals the ways that Mormonism participated in both the American culture and operated on its religious fringes. Lyman spent time on the frontier, moved west, served his community, and tried to serve his religious and secular communities. He participated in popular religious movements like spiritualism and worked on his writing and grammar. However, he was also an apostle in a religious group that wasn’t recognized as authentically religious as much as organized hearsay in the nineteenth century. He had eight wives and fathered dozens of children. I would love to see Lyman incorporated into studies that use those at the edges of Mormonism (intellectually, theologically, racially, sexually, etc.) to reveal more about the average experience of nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints.[iv]

Interestingly, and frustratingly, Lyman’s diaries do not reveal the inner workings of his mind to the degree that the journals of leaders like Wilford Woodruff, Heber J. Grant, or Ernest Wilkinson do. Partridge’s footnotes and introduction will be valuable for readers, although there are a few things that caused me some frustration. First, I would have liked to have seen events in the diaries in conversation with works in the history of the American West and American religious history. I believe Mormon history is best when it can speak to broader topics—pointing readers to works outside of Mormon history would be immensely helpful for non-experts. Second, I would have liked to have seen more works of Mormon history referenced in the text (especially newer works).

These issues aside, Partridge and the Signature Team have much to be proud of. I wholeheartedly recommend Thirteenth Apostle to all those that work in nineteenth-century Mormonism, spiritualism, and the history of the American West.

 

 

[i] Many of these volumes, along with other books and primary sources, are available at Signature Books’ Internet Archive site.
[ii] The excommunication was overturned (his baptismal and priesthood blessings were restored) in 1909.
[iii] A study could be done on what he reports seeing and hearing during séances. Emily Suzanne Clark’s recent book “Luminous Brotherhood” makes great use of spiritualist records left behind by black Catholic men in nineteenth-century New Orleans.
[iv] For a rationale behind such projects, see Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, “The Clock and the Compass: Mormon Culture in Motion,” Journal of Mormon History 32, no. 2 (April 2017): 1-19.


Thoughts on PBS’S Wolf Hall

By October 5, 2017


Yes, I’m very late to the party, but I recently saw a few episodes of PBS’s Wolf Hall about Thomas Cromwell and wanted to comment. Though I did a reading exam on the English Reformation, my focus was more societal than on individuals, so my knowledge of the main characters in the story are somewhat impressionistic. I did see a few problems though.

First, I’ll say that the production is very good, and Cromwell’s character is very likeable as a salt-of-the-earth, humble servant, caught up in difficult times. Clearly the intent is to overturn Man for All Seasons (1966) that makes Thomas More the hero of the story.

More’s character in Wolf Hall is an interesting one, and while many say he’s the villain, Wolf Hall’s More is much more three-dimensional than Man for All Seasons’ Cromwell. Things seem to go off the rails, however, in the lead up to More’s trial and execution, as the dialogue becomes all about justifying More’s execution, and Cromwell seems to shoot down all the great lines from Man for All Seasons. Ultimately, More’s prosecution, torture, and burning of Protestants justify Cromwell’s prosecution of More for his refusal to sign the oath of allegiance. 

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“The Heathen World and America’s Humanitarian Impulse”

By October 4, 2017


I have recently become the director of the Rocky Mountain American Religion Seminar (RMARS) at the University of Utah. As director, one of my jobs is to invite scholars to deliver public lectures at the University of Utah. Our first lecture will be delivered by Professor Kathryn Gin Lum of Stanford University. Her lecture will be held on Monday, October 16 at 2 PM in CTIHB 101 (University of Utah).

She will speak on the confluence of race, religion, and the “heathen” in American history. You can RSVP (and help spread the word) on Facebook.

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“Science vs. Dogma: Biology Challenges the LDS Paradigm” by Greg Prince, Author & Historian

By September 27, 2017


The Obert C. & Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center presents The 2017 Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion & Culture

“Science vs. Dogma: Biology Challenges the LDS Paradigm” by Greg Prince, Author & Historian

Wednesday, September 27 at 7:00 PM

Salt Lake City Public Library – Nancy Tessman Auditorium

210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City

Open to the public, no tickets required

Facebook event: https://goo.gl/4jXtP8

LIVE STREAM: http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h1ynw

 

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah presents the 2017 Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion & Culture, “Science versus Dogma: Biology challenges the LDS Paradigm” by Gregory A. Prince, author and historian, at Salt Lake City Public Library, September 27 at 7:00 p.m.

 

Until the late 1960s, when the Stonewall Riots in New York City brought LGBT issues into the public square, the consensus among clinicians, scientists, legislators, and religious leaders was that homosexuality was either an unfortunate choice that could be unchosen, or a disease that could—and must—be cured. As the field of molecular biology matured, there was a spirited hunt for a genetic explanation for homosexuality—the “gay gene.”

 

In the short term, failure to find such a gene reinforced the “choice paradigm” of homosexuality.  However, recent research has shown that a combination of genetic and (mostly) epigenetic factors act during fetal development to imprint sexual preference and gender identity indelibly within the brain. Prince argues that the “biology paradigm” calls for a reassessment of Latter-day Saint doctrines, policies, and attitudes towards homosexuality, all of which were built on a foundation of the “choice paradigm.”

 

“Greg Prince’s unique perspective,” says Tanner Center director Bob Goldberg, “combines scientific knowledge with humanistic sensibilities.  This insures that his insights will offer new ways of understanding matters that touch us all.”

 

Prince’s lecture will be followed by a book signing hosted by the King’s English Bookshop.

 

About Gregory A. Prince

Scientific researcher and historian Gregory A. Prince earned his graduate degrees in dentistry (DDS) and pathology (PhD) at UCLA. He then pursued a four-decade career in pediatric infectious disease research. His love of history led him to write three books, including the award-winning David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Most recently, he has published Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History.

 

Very Special Thanks

 

B.W. Bastian Foundation

 

Community Partners

 

The Salt Lake City Public Library

Q Salt Lake Magazine

The King’s English Bookshop


Lecture Announcement from The Joseph Smith Papers

By September 26, 2017


Join Us for a Special Lecture

 

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to invite you to a special presentation in conjunction with the publication of Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839. David W. Grua, coeditor of the volume, will present “‘All these things shall give thee experience’: Joseph Smith’s Liberty Jail Letters” on September 28 in Salt Lake City.


Event: “‘All these things shall give thee experience’: Joseph Smith’s Liberty Jail Letters” presented by David W. Grua
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Assembly Hall (50 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150)

Liberty Jail is at the symbolic center of Documents, Volume 6. During the winter of 1838–1839, Joseph Smith was confined to the jail’s dungeon and separated from Latter-day Saints who were finding refuge outside of Missouri. In this time of crisis, he used letters to maintain family ties and to sustain the church. Come learn more about how the letters illuminate Joseph’s own struggle to comprehend the Saints’ afflictions and the revelations he received in the jail.

 


Q&A with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

By September 25, 2017


Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, whose book we have been reading together for nearly six months, has graciously agreed to answer a few questions from JI bloggers and readers. If you found the book club useful and/or interesting, we hope you will follow JI on Facebook, Twitter, and share our articles. 

JI: What has the reception been among academic, popular, and Mormon audiences?  

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Scholarly Inquiry: A Conversation with Stephen C. Taysom, II

By September 19, 2017


Eighteen months ago, Taysom was deep into work on a biography of Joseph F. Smith, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1901 to 1918. We interviewed him then about the project. Taysom recently finished work on the manuscript, and we decided to follow up to see how the project evolved over that period and what Taysom’s reflections in retrospect are.

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Review: The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History

By September 18, 2017


This review was written by Courtney Jensen Peacock, a PhD student in American Studies at Heidelberg University.

Book Review: Grow, Matthew and R. Eric Smith, eds. The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History. Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, UT: 2017.

The release of the Council of Fifty minutes by The Joseph Smith Papers project last year (Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846) is a fantastic example of the exciting new developments currently occurring in Mormon studies, as more sources are becoming available for the first time to both scholars and the public. The release of new primary sources is always cause for celebration, but the fact that the Council of Fifty minutes cover the late Nauvoo period make them especially valuable. Scholars working on the Nauvoo period have always struggled with a shortage of available contemporary sources, which has hindered a full understanding of this crucial time in the development of Mormonism’s distinct theology and culture. The publishing of the Council of Fifty minutes, along with other sources recently released by The Joseph Smith Papers or published elsewhere, has and will contribute to important and innovative analyses of the Nauvoo period and nineteenth-century Mormonism.[i]

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JI Summer Book Club: A House Full of Females Chapter 15

By September 17, 2017


This is the fifteenth entry in the Third Annual Summer Book Club at Juvenile Instructor. This year we are reading Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism (Knopf, 2017). Check back every Sunday for the week’s installment! Please follow the book club and JI on Facebook!

What did it mean for Mormon women to work “behind the throne” (372) but not as “pawns of the patriarchy”? (385) What did it mean for Mormon women to “speak for themselves,” (387) but in defense of polygamy? In what sense, in other words, were Mormon women free? Were they free?

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CFP: 2018 Regional AAR at BYU

By September 13, 2017


AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Region

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: March 16–17, 2018

Call for Papers

The Regional Program Committee invites proposals for papers and panels to be presented at the 2018 Regional Meeting in Provo, Utah. The deadline for submissions is Friday October 27 at 5:00 pm MST.

Proposals dealing with any aspect of the fields of religious studies, biblical studies, and Near Eastern studies are welcome. We seek proposals on all topics, religious traditions, historical periods, and biblical (including pseudepigraphical and deutero-canonical) texts and traditions. We welcome proposals for single papers, panels with multiple papers, or other types of sessions, such as roundtables involving structured discussions of pre-circulated questions. Proposals addressing issues such as pedagogy, instructional technology, philology, ritual, the body, religion and media, religion and politics, and current trends in the profession are also encouraged.

Proposal Requirements

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Q&A with Patrick Mason on the Global Mormon Studies Center at CGU

By September 5, 2017


We are pleased that Patrick Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has responded to questions asked by JI bloggers about his plans for the Global Mormon Studies Center. You can find more about the Global Mormon Studies Center here.

  1. The Global Mormon Studies Center is the first research organization directly connected to Mormon Studies. Do you see the Center as a part of the program’s draw for students, or as a separate research center attached to CGU?

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