Articles by

J Stuart

Roundtable: Stuart on *The Power of Godliness*

By March 20, 2018

Jonathan Stapley’s The Power of Godliness is a landmark for Mormon Studies. There are precious few academic, peer-reviewed publications that succinctly and accessibly explain the development of Mormonism’s definitions of priesthood and liturgical practices. While there are certain rough edges that could be smoothed out, it’s altogether remarkable that Stapley produced this book. It’s even more astounding that he wrote the book while working in the private sector, without summers for research or other designated “work” times that many academic need to produce scholarship.

I’d like to focus on two aspects of Stapley’s work that I think are worth emulating in future work in Mormon Studies. First, I consider how Stapley’s work “does” theology in an academically viable way. Second, I reflect on Stapley’s use of religious studies methodologies throughout his manuscript.

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“Consider Three Things”: Writing a Prospectus and Forming a Committee

By March 9, 2018

This is the fifth in a series of posts on selecting a finishing exams and finding a doctoral dissertation topic. All of our five participants have participated in Mormon Studies in the past, but not all of them chose to pursue a Mormon Studies topic for their dissertation. If you’d like to contribute a post that addresses this topic in future, please send me an email at joseph [dot] stuart [at] utah [dot] e dee ewe.

When writing your prospectus and choosing a topic, I would encourage you to consider three things:

  1. How do you want to be categorized in your field?
  2. What is the thread that ties your analysis together?
  3. Who are the people that you trust to help you do your best? And are those people invested in you and your wellbeing?

On the first point: I do not want to be pigeonholed as a religious historian. I am interested in much more than religion. My dissertation will be framed in terms of race and gender, though religion will form a major component of my analysis.

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By March 2, 2018



DATE: October 12–13, 2018

LOCATION: Utah State University


The Book of Mormon Studies Association is happy to announce a conference to be held October 12–13, 2018, at Utah State University. Sponsored by USU’s Department of Religious Studies and with thanks to Philip Barlow, the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon Studies, the conference aims to gather scholars invested in serious academic study of the Book of Mormon, providing them with a venue to present their work and receive feedback and criticism. As with last year’s inaugural conference at USU, this conference has no centralizing theme. Instead, we invite papers on any subject related to the Book of Mormon from any viable academic angle. Pursuant to decisions made at last year’s conference, there will an official event organizing the Book of Mormon Studies Association itself during the conference, along with elections of officers.

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Billy Graham and Mitt Romney: The Importance of October 2012

By February 21, 2018

Billy Graham, the most important figure in twentieth-century American Christianity, died this morning at the age of 99. You’ll have the opportunity to read countless obituaries or columns on his life, evangelistic prowess, stances on race, sexuality, his conversations with Nixon about Jews, and his theatrical preaching in postwar America. I’m sure you’ll also read about his son, Franklin, and the roles that the Grahams have played in the election of Reagan and Trump. Historian Anthea Butler called Graham the closest thing to a Protestant Pope that America has ever had. I think she’s right. Graham’s meteoric rise in film and radio is the stuff of legend. He preached to more than a hundred million people in person and taught a particular way to be Christian and American.

The most important thing that Graham ever did for Mormonism was remove it from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s list of “cults.”[i] He did so after a meeting with Mitt Romney in October 2012, during the home stretch of the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign, in an attempt to increase the evangelical vote.

Mormonism no longer being named as a cult by the most prominent voice in American evangelicalism was a major coup for the LDS Church and its members. Although scholars no longer use the term cult, it has a powerful meaning in Christian communities (just ask Pastor Jeffress). Latter-day Saints, who have wanted to be a part of the White Protestant Establishment since the early twentieth century, had been excluded because of their views on the trinity, sexuality, and other non-creedal views. But, at least for the 2012 election, Graham gave Mormonism, and its most famous adherent, his blessing.

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Paid Student Internship at Nauvoo, Illinois

By February 12, 2018

From friend of JI Nancy Ross:

I have been informed that there is a paid history internship (related to LDS/Community of Christ history), which comes with housing and up to 6 credits in history from Graceland University. This is for undergrads and graduate students. Please forward the information to interested parties.

Please check out the description here:

To apply, the forms are below and you need to send them to

This is a well-established internship and I can also put interested people in contact with someone who has done this internship before.

Image result for nauvoo illinois

Announcing MHA Executive Director Search

By February 5, 2018

See original post HERE

Position:  Executive Director, Mormon History Association

This person oversees and administers all aspects of the organization, reporting to the MHA President and Board of Directors.

About MHA:

The Mormon History Association is a nonprofit, independent, nondenominational organization dedicated to the scholarly study and understanding of all aspects of Mormon history, broadly defined. We promote this mission through scholarly research, conferences, awards, and publications.


Proven record of experience in administrative work, preferably in the nonprofit field, with demonstrated competence in the following areas: accounting/bookkeeping and records management; public relations and communications; fundraising, donor relations, and capital development; event planning and coordination. Must demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills, and ability to be innovative and creative in generating new ideas and responding to external demands. Proficiency in newsletter publishing software, electronic communications, and records management is required; web design and social media expertise strongly preferred. The position requires personal flexibility, energy, diplomacy, and the ability to work independently.

The MHA Executive Director need not be a scholar of Mormon history, but should be able to enthusiastically support and publicly represent the organization’s mission, as well as interacting with the MHA membership which includes both professional historians and enthusiasts from a variety of religious backgrounds (or none at all).

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State-of-the-Field and Publication Workshop: Mormon Studies

By January 29, 2018

Last year, Kris W. and I hosted a Mormon Studies Publication Workshop at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

The workshop helped to create a sense of community among young scholars from a variety of places and disciplines while providing helpful feedback for developing projects. We were especially glad to receive so many excellent submissions on race, gender, and sexuality and were grateful to the Danforth Center for hosting scholars from California to Massachussetts. You can read more about the meeting here.

This year we will host another workshop on June 6, 2018 as a pre-conference option at the Mormon History Association conference in Boise, Idaho. The workshop, “Beyond the New Mormon History: Trends and Methodologies,” will be held Thursday, June 6 from 9 AM-5 PM. There will be no cost for the workshop beyond punctual arrival and rigorous intellectual engagement.


In a change from past years, anyone that is interested in Mormon Studies in any discipline may apply to participate in the workshop. Women and less represented groups are especially encouraged to apply and will receive preference in the selection process. The paper you propose to present must touch on Mormonism in some way (comparative studies are welcomed). Participants should be physically present in Boise to participate in the workshop.

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The Marlin K. Jensen Mormon Studies Scholar and Artist in Residence Program at the Tanner Humanities Center

By January 23, 2018

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah is proud to offer its annual fellowship in the name of Marlin K. Jensen.  Our Marlin K. Jensen Scholar and Artist in Residence Program hosts prominent scholars with expertise in Mormon Studies or renowned artists who explore the relationship between faith and art in their work.

Marlin Keith Jensen was a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), serving as the official Church Historian and Recorder from 2005 to 2012. During his tenure, Jensen built bridges between the Mormon Church and the academy and worked to give the Church’s History Department international range, make its holdings more accessible to researchers, and publish primary materials.  Jensen was made an emeritus general authority in 2012.

The fellowship is flexible in terms of time commitment and tasks.  Applicants are asked to submit a clear plan for their time as fellow, up to a semester in length, which broadens our campus and community’s understanding of Mormonism, its people, and institutions.  Academic as well as independent scholars are encouraged to apply.

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Graduate Fellowship in Mormon Studies at the Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah

By January 23, 2018

The Tanner Humanities Center will award a graduate fellowship in Mormon Studies for the 2018-19 academic year. The fellowship encourages, in all facets, the scholarly explorations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its people, values, history, culture, and institutions.  This fellowship is designed to enable doctoral students of unusual ability and achievement to engaging in research and writing full time. Projects should focus on topics related to the history and/or culture of Mormonism. Eligible disciplines include: Communication, English, History, Languages, Law, Philosophy, and Political Science, among others.

Graduate students will have successfully passed their Ph.D. or qualifying exams, and completed all course work by the beginning of the fellowship period (August 2018).

Fellows will receive a stipend of $20,000 and a private office with computer and telephone in the Center. Fellows may retain other forms of internal and external support that do not interfere with their dissertation work.

Applications may be found at  The deadline for all materials is March 1, 2018.  Please send applications and letters of recommendation to Beth James, Associate Director, at

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Bryce Harper and Mormon Masculinities

By January 22, 2018

Bryce Harper was the first Mormon to be compared to Lebron James. He was also the first Mormon to have a temper tantrum full of particular 4-letter words go viral. Bryce Harper also posed for ESPN’s The Body issue without a stitch of clothing on him.[i] He was, by any definition of the term in regards to styling and dress, immodest. Mormonism’s modesty culture encourages young people not to “use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.” Harper is tattooed, rocks a perfectly-coiffed modern hair-do, and his eyes sear into the viewer. His body may be objectified, but he is not a passive observer. Quite the contrary. His stance, eyes, and rippling pectorals denote physical and charismatic power. Most casual observers would not peg him for an active Latter-day Saint.

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Heaven & Earth: Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation and Faith (Conference at UVU February 22nd-23rd, 2018)

By January 21, 2018

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Brian Birch at or Boyd Petersen at 

The relationship between science and religion has been among the most fiercely debated issues since the Copernican revolution displaced traditional wisdom regarding the nature of the cosmos. Some have argued  for a sharp division of labor while others have sought to harmonize spiritual and empirical truths. From its beginnings, Mormonism has wrestled with the implications of modern science and has produced a variety of  theological responses. This conference will explore the landscape of Mormon thought as it relates to the relationships between science, theology, scriptural narratives, and LDS authoritative discourse. It will also examine abiding questions of faith, reason, and doubt and the reactions against the intellectualizing forces that bear on the truth claims of Mormonism.

Thursday, February 22 UVU Classroom Building (CB-511)

1:00-2:15 Eugene England Memorial Lecture

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“In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions”: Black Mormon Pioneer Experiences An Evening with Amy Tanner Thiriot

By January 17, 2018

From the LDS Church Museum’s website:

The first black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were a vital part of the early history of the Church. They served missions and shared the gospel. As the Church moved west, they helped build Nauvoo and Winter Quarters and drove wagons across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. Once in the valley, they helped rescue the stranded Willie and Martin handcart companies, built roads and communities, and raised families in the Mormon settlements of the West.

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LDS Church President Obits in the NYT (PDF to Full Articles at Bottom of Post)

By January 10, 2018

For no reason at all, here are the headlines, as they currently stand, for each LDS Church President who had an obituary published in the New York Times:

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Succession in the LDS Presidency: Past and Present

By January 3, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson, sixteenth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away last night surrounded by family in his Salt Lake City home from effects related to aging. We share our sympathy and support for his family and all those affected by his death, notably sixteen million or so Latter-day Saints.

There will be time for historical retrospectives at a later date. At this time, I thought it would be helpful to review how an LDS Church President is called and sustained by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. This section is taken from the Mormon newsroom, I would encourage you to read the rest here. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share some helpful links on the historical development of succession in the LDS Church.

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Happy New Year! Here Are a Few Things We Are Going to do This Year

By January 1, 2018

Happy New Year from all of us at Juvenile Instructor! We enjoyed bringing you historical argument, book reviews, announcements, and our summer book club in 2017. We have several more exciting plans for 2018.

  • New authors with historiographical expertise in areas we have neglected
  • Roundtables on new books in Mormon history (including J. Stapley’s and Colleen McDannell’s new books)
  • A series of posts on beginning to write a dissertation
  • A series of posts on turning dissertations into books
  • Q&As with scholars that teach Mormon history, from that that identify as Mormon historians and those that do not
  • A March Madness-style bracket on the best articles in Mormon history

Be sure to follow us on social media or via email for updates! Following us on social media helps other to find us and helps us spread the word of news and notes from the world of Mormon history.





MHA International Scholars Fund

By December 22, 2017

The Mormon History Association (MHA) seeks to raise $5,000 to support scholars from outside the United States to travel to and participate in the association’s annual conference in Boise, Idaho, on June 7-10, 2018.  If you love Mormon history, this is an excellent opportunity to support the diversification and internationalization of our community of scholars! LINK HERE

MHA is making a concerted effort to diversify its membership and include scholars and students from around the globe in order to help expand our understanding of Mormon history outside of the United States.  An annual fund of $5,000 will allow the association to subsidize the attendance and participation of scholars from Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere, for whom the expense of traveling to the United States for an MHA conference is often prohibitive.  We need the perspectives and knowledge these scholars can contribute, and ask for your help in elevating their voices.

The Mormon History Association is the preeminent scholarly organization dedicated to the study and understanding of all aspects of the Mormon past.  As an independent, nondenominational, nonprofit organization, we welcome all who are interested in Mormon history.  MHA’s flagship event is our annual conference, scheduled to occur next on June 7-10, 2018, in Boise, Idaho.

Please join us in this initiative to bring a greater international presence to the MHA 2018 conference. Contributions of every level are welcome.  All donations are tax deductible.  Our goal is to raise $5,000 by January 22.

Thank you for your support of the Mormon History Association and our increasingly global community of scholars and members!


Highlights from Mormon Studies Review, Volume 5

By December 11, 2017

The Mormon Studies Review is the best annual over view of the Mormon Studies (sub)field available anywhere. Produced by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the journal is produced by a remarkable editorial team. You can subscribe for $10 (and you get the Maxwell Institute’s other publications, too!). I’ll highlight each contribution, and pull a sentence or two from each article to give a taste of the writing and rigor involved in each contribution. As much as the summaries, I hope that you’ll appreciate with me the myriad of approaches that could be used in Mormon History or Mormon Studies. The field, as they say, is white and ready to harvest.

First, a review panel comprised of Ann Little (a renowned women’s history specialist and microhistorian), Paul Reeve (the Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Utah), and Sarah Carter (a historian of plural marriage outside of Mormonism) examines Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females.[i]  An excerpt from Little’s response sums up the book well:

Ulrich’s instinct to hew to the daily realities of mid-nineteenth-century missionary life and westward imperial expansion serves her well. The Mormons she portrays lead complicated lives—emotionally and sexually messy as well as frequently (literally) clogged with mud, dirt, and dysentery from their various removes and migrations. She focuses on the details of early Mormon life as they were revealed in diaries rather than retrospective memoirs, which brings the immediacy of their experimentation to life.

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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 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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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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Juvenile Instructor » Roundtable on Stapley, Power of Godliness: The Cultural Context(s) for Mormonism’s Priesthood on Roundtable: Stuart on *The: “[…] (Oxford University Press). You should make sure to read Tona’s post here, Joey’s post here and Janiece’s here. Building on their excellent reviews, I’d…”

Juvenile Instructor » Roundtable on Stapley, Power of Godliness: The Cultural Context(s) for Mormonism’s Priesthood on Roundtable: Johnson - Accessibility: “[…] You should make sure to read Tona’s post here, Joey’s post here and Janiece’s here. Building on their excellent reviews, I’d like to focus…”

Juvenile Instructor » Roundtable on Stapley, Power of Godliness: The Cultural Context(s) for Mormonism’s Priesthood on Roundtable: Stuart on *The: “[…] University Press). You should make sure to read Tona’s post here, and Joey’s post here. Building on their excellent reviews, I’d like to focus…”

JJohnson on Roundtable: Johnson - Accessibility: “The Other Clark--completely.”

The Other Clark on Roundtable: Johnson - Accessibility: “I'm enjoying the different perspectives this roundtable provides. I'm interested in the topic as an avid and well-educated but amateur. (As an active…”

J Stuart on Roundtable: Johnson - Accessibility: “Excellent work, JJ. I keep thinking about how eminently teachable Stapley's book is. I'm considering adopting it for a course. Also, Saskia, I think about that…”

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