Articles by

J Stuart

Eugenics and the Intellectual Underpinnings of Mormons in the Alt-Right

By March 27, 2017


Over the past few weeks, a white woman that goes by the name “A Purposeful Wife” (Ayla) has garnered a lot of attention on Twitter and was featured in an article on Buzzfeed for dual loyalties to Mormonism and the Alt-Right Movement (a  political movement whose explicit purpose is to create a white, Christian nation). She spends her days spewing Alt-Right messages to her 20,000 followers and thousands more that respond to her. Her alt-right beliefs inform her “white nationalism.” Although she rejects the label of “Nazi,” she subscribes to Nazi race theory. She has issued a “white baby challenge,” encouraging people now considered to be white to bear more children than people of color in order to maintain white supremacy. This cannot be called anything other than a call to eugenics–commonplace rhetoric in the Alt-Right.  Ayla has a Mormon.org profile, seemingly written before her adoption of Alt-Right politics.

Despite the unsavory, dangerous, and abhorrent rhetoric, it’s important to know Mormonism’s long history of supporting eugenics—even when they were not considered white or Christian. As Ardis at Keepapitchinin has rightly written, this flies in the face of current Mormon teachings. I applaud the LDS Church’s statement condemning all forms of racism past and present, and join in that call. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the LDS Church condemns its past subscription to eugenics, not only the priesthood and temple restriction or other better-known racist or racial beliefs and practices.

While this post is a very short introduction, I will provide a brief overview of the Mormon embrace of eugenics, explicitly, and implicitly, in terms of race and gender. Mormon eugenics and political history will come in a second installment.[i]

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The Mormon Image in Literature Series: Some Scattered Thoughts

By March 21, 2017


Greg Kofford Books has been publishing a series on the Mormon image in nineteenth and early twentieth century dime novels for a few years now. The series, edited by Ardis Parshall and Michael Austin, provides a smart, scholarly framework in addition to reprinting books that are disappearing every year. WVS has provided an excellent overview of Kofford’s publicity event at By Common Consent, and because we attended the same event and took roughly the same notes, I thought that I would offer some initial thoughts about Greg Kofford Books, Parshall and Austin’s work, and some possible uses for the series in academic work.

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Mormon Studies Conference at UVU: March 29-31, 2017

By March 17, 2017


Eighteenth Annual UVU Mormon Studies Conference

Multicultural Mormonism

Religious Cohesion in a New Era of Diversity

 

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Mormon Studies Publication Workshop at the John C. Danforth Center for Religion and Politics (Deadline March 27)

By March 13, 2017


Last year, Kris W. and I hosted a “Mormonism in Religious Studies” workshop at the University of Utah. We discussed religious disappointment, Mormonism and Spiritualism, failed healings, immigration, Mormon women and masonry, and other topics at length.

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.  As a result, we have decided to host another workshop as a pre-conference workshop at the 2017 meetings of the Mormon History Association in St. Louis, MO. The workshop, “Surveying Trends in the Field: Mormon History and Mormon Studies in the Modern Academy,” will be held on Thursday, June 1 at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis from 9 AM-5 PM. There will be no cost for the workshop beyond punctual arrival and rigorous intellectual engagement.

DC Logo

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2017 Utah State Historical Society Conference (Applications Due April 15)

By March 9, 2017


Local Matters

The Utah State Historical Society invites the public, scholars, students, policymakers, and organizations to submit proposals for papers, panels, or multimedia presentations on the theme Local Matters. This is both a call for papers and a call for the participation of community organizations such as museums, preservation groups, and historical societies. Sessions for the 65th annual Utah State History Conference will be held on October 11, 2017, at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.

Local can be broadly conceived. We encourage submissions examining the many strands that create the fabric of communities—such as interpersonal networks, long-standing festivals, neighborhood structures, churches, schools, or the arts—or that focus more narrowly on a family or a home. And community may also be interpreted broadly as communities of faith, advocacy, hobbies, politics, and so forth. Submissions might also consider the historical roots of the recent vogue for things local: farm-to-table eating, urban redevelopment, public markets, or local music.

Separately, we welcome papers and panels that discuss the uses and historiography of local history and the application of sophisticated methodology to personal, family, and community history. How do communities go about compiling their histories? What role do organizations play in preserving local history? How does community history intersect with broader historical themes?

Submissions on other aspects of Utah history will also be considered. We welcome a range of formats, from the traditional panels and sessions to more innovative formats. We encourage full session or panel submissions, though we will make every effort to match single paper proposals with other panels and papers.

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#MHA2017: Conference Program and Registration Available

By March 5, 2017


Please read this post from Mormon History Association Director Rob Racker. Be sure to register for the conference, book your hotel, and consider a donation to the student travel fund!

Panoramic image of St. Louis downtown with Gateway Arch at twilight.

Panoramic image of St. Louis downtown with Gateway Arch at twilight.

Dear Members and Friends of Mormon History Association:

You are invited to preregister and attend the Mormon History Association’s 52nd Annual Conference in the historic St Charles area of St Louis MO. We hope that you will be able to attend what promises to be an exciting event.

A copy of the preliminary conference program can be viewed HERE .

The conference registration link is here:  HERE or go to: http://www.cvent.com/d/zvqyg3

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History and Presence, Chapter 2: “Abundant History”

By January 31, 2017


Our Tuesdays with Orsi series continues today with a look at the second chapter. The series is a systematic engagement with Robert Orsi’s important and recently published book, History and Presence. See the first installment here and the second installment here.

 

OrsiAs Ryan wrote last week, Orsi’s writing in the past dozen or so years has focused on the need to write about “presence” and “abundant events” in scholarship on religion. Following up on his first chapter arguing for an academic way of studying the presence of “the gods” as they appear and operate in the lives of individuals and religious groups, Orsi’s second chapter argues that scholars should take “abundant events” much more seriously. In doing so, Orsi seeks to help scholars overcome the methodological issues inherent to studying religion. As JI emeritus and scholar Steve Taysom puts it, “how [can] scholars of religion account for experiences that are simultaneously irrational and real?”[i] Orsi contends that the abundance of events surrounding when the “transcendent breaks into time” means that scholars must account for the “presence” of supernatural occurrences and beings in the lives of those they study.

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Call for MHA Awards–Deadline February 1

By January 24, 2017


A note from MHA Board Member and friend of Juvenile Instructor, J.B. Haws, regarding submissions for MHA Awards.

One final call for nominations for the 2016 Mormon History Association awards! The deadline is next week—February 1!

We welcome nominations for article awards and graduate student work awards from anyone—authors, advisers, readers, fans, colleagues, etc. Because some authors are reticent about putting forward their own pieces, we need your help to identify excellent scholarship.

Nominations for article awards should be submitted to Sheree Bench at shereebench@msn.com. Nominations for graduate student work awards (dissertation, thesis, and unpublished graduate paper) should be submitted to Brian Birch at brian.birch@uvu.edu. Can we put out a special request to have those of you who work with graduate students to give extra attention to this? Please encourage your students and peers to submit their work—or feel free to send in their work for them!

Nominations for book awards should come directly from publishers. We ask publishers to submit 5 copies of nominated books. Publishers can contact our executive director, Rob Racker at mha.robracker@gmail.com, to get current mailing information for our book award committee members (the book awards committee is chaired by Tona Hangen).

Feel free to direct general questions about awards to J.B. Haws at jbhaws@byu.edu.

Thank you for helping the MHA celebrate outstanding work in the field of Mormon history!


JI Goes back to School: A Follow-Up

By January 9, 2017


Last summer, Amanda organized a “back-to-school” series for students and professors preparing for fall semester. My post, which you can find here, spoke to my planning process and included a few tips on resources that graduate students can take advantage of. I thought that sharing a portion of my semester review process might be helpful to readers.

LAST SEMESTER

planWell, if nothing else, I can say that I made it through. It turns out I was far too optimistic about what I could accomplish realistically. I took introductory courses on Latin America and “masculinities of men of color.” Despite how much I enjoyed each class, both kicked my rear end. I struggled to pick up an entire new section of historiography, both geographically and thematically. I didn’t think enough about how difficult it would be to learn so much new information in one semester. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it either, if they can help it, unless they have more time to devote to completing large outside reading lists. Despite these frustrations, I now have half of a dissertation chapter, half of the books for my Latin American history comprehensive exam, and the seedling of a publishable article on masculinity, gender, and civil rights.  The coursework forced me to stretch in positive ways, but I’m looking forward to a semester with courses addressing themes with which I am already familiar.

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Call for Applications: The Marlin K. Jensen Mormon Studies Scholar and Artist in Residence Program

By January 4, 2017


mkjThe 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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Review: Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945.

By January 2, 2017


Mason, Patrick Q. and John G. Turner. Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Book Cover

Book Cover

 

Studies of nineteenth-century Mormonism have long dominated the Mormon History Association’s Best Book Awards. The move to study Mormonism in the context of religious studies has, in a similar manner, addressed the history of Mormonism from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at the expense of later events. Patrick Mason and John Turner have sought to expand academic conversations about Mormonism with their edited collection, Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945, which examines the history of the LDS Church after World War II. As Mason writes in his introduction to the volume, his and Turner’s purpose in organizing the collection is to add to the “insightful but rare” studies of Mormonism in the postwar period by shining “a brighter light on Mormonism’s modern period” (4, 7). Another goal was to feature some of the “brightest emerging scholars” in the study of Mormonism, leavened by more seasoned scholars. Mason and Turner meet both their goals in splendid fashion. In this review, rather than address each chapter in depth, I’ll offer a thought or two on each chapter in Out of Obscurity’s four sections—internationalization, political culture, gender, and religious culture. While I recognize the clunkiness of this style of review, I hope that the short summaries will help readers find specific chapters they may want to read while engaging the entirety of the book.

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2 Podcasts for Your Holiday Travels

By December 21, 2016


We at Juvenile Instructor wish our readers a happy winter break and a happy New Year! If you’re in need of a few podcasts that touch on Mormonism during your holiday travels, here are two for your mind and ears.

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If Not 1890, What Year Did Mormonism Change the Most?

By October 24, 2016


I’ve been thinking recently about Grant Underwood’s article in Pacific Historical Review, “Re-visioning Mormon History.” In short, Underwood contends that 1890 is not such a watershed year for Mormon history as historians have led us to believe. Underwood argues, at most times convincingly, that Mormons had not Americanized nor become much less peculiar since the year of the Woodruff Manifesto.

I don’t want to rehash his entire argument and evidence here (those who are interested in a deeper dive should consult Christopher’s excellent rumination on the article here and David’s follow up questions on the article here). However, I find that I generally agree with Jan Shipps on the importance of 1890. She wrote, “Whatever else it did, the Manifesto announced that the old order would have to pass away.”[1] Despite my belief that 1890 is a very important year for Mormons and historians of Mormonism, I think reducing the large-scale changes in Mormonism to 1890 alone is unproductive. If historians are seeking a sort of “trigger year” where Mormonism struck out on a new course, what date would be more appropriate than 1890? Here are a few options:

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Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia

By October 18, 2016


Posting Number: 0619686
Location: Charlottesville
Department: Department of Religious Studies

Minimum Education
No Response

Minimum Experience
No Response

The University of Virginia’s Religious Studies Department invites applications for one full-time postdoctoral fellow and lecturer for the 2017-2018 academic year. We are seeking a historian of American religious history, but applicants in any discipline or field related to the study of religion are welcome. Preference will be given to those applicants with interest in marginal or newer religious movements, especially Mormonism. Expertise in Mormonism is not required. Rather, the Fellowship is designed to provide training for persons who wish to add such expertise to an existing disciplinary specialty. The position has an anticipated start date of July 25, 2017.

Duties include, but are not limited to, teaching two courses per semester. Applicants should evidence experience in and commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching in a liberal arts framework, and be prepared to participate in both a large team-taught introductory-level class and smaller upper-level courses. Specifically, the Fellow will teach three seminars in his or her discipline and on topics of his or her choice. In addition, the Fellow will team-teach, with the Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, an introductory survey on Mormonism in relation to American culture.

uva

Compensation will be in the form of salary, benefits, and a research fund.

Applicants for the fellowship must have attained the PhD prior to July 25, 2017.

To apply, please search on search on Posting Number 0619686 at Jobs@UVA (https://jobs.virginia.edu), complete a Candidate Profile online, and electronically attach the following: a cover letter, a current CV including the names and contact information for two references, and a statement describing, in no more than 300 words, your qualifications for and philosophy of teaching with attention to your disciplinary approach (attach statement to Other1).

For full consideration apply by February 15, 2017; however, the position will remain open until filled.

Questions regarding the position should be directed to: Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies,kathleen.flake@virginia.edu.

Questions regarding the application process or Jobs@UVA should be directed to: Julie Garmel, Administrator, Department of Religious Studies: jg4e@virginia.edu.

The University will perform background checks on all new faculty hires prior to making a final offer of employment.

The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

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Call for Applicants: Neal A. Maxwell Institute Summer Seminar

By September 28, 2016


“Mormonism Confronts the World”
How the LDS Church Has Responded to Developments in Science, Culture, and Religion

Brigham Young University
June 26–August 3, 2017

In the summer of 2017, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University, with support from the Mormon Scholars Foundation, will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students on the topic, “MORMONISM CONFRONTS THE WORLD: How the LDS Church Has Responded to Developments in Science, Culture, and Religion.” The seminar will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, from June 26 to August 3, 2017. Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3,000 in addition to a housing accommodation subsidy if needed. International participants will also receive some transportation assistance, the amount to be determined by availability of funding. (We are hoping to cover most airfares for international participants.)

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Thomas W. Simpson Discusses His Book at the Tanner Humanities Center

By September 21, 2016


Tom Simpson visited BYU, the Tanner Humanities Center, and Sam Weller’s this week. Here are the storied tweets from his visit to the THC. Many thanks to Colleen McDannell and Bob Goldberg for making it possible!


Notes from the Council of Fifty Minutes Launch Event

By September 20, 2016


This week, the Joseph Smith Papers Project released The Council of Fifty Minutes. These long-awaited meeting minutes cover the period of March 1844-January 1846, the last three months of Joseph Smith’s life and the twenty months thereafter. Because many readers of this blog will not be familiar with the Council of Fifty, I’ve organized this post along the following lines:

What is the Council of Fifty?

Why are the minutes so highly anticipated?

What history is contained in the papers?

Q&A from the blogger event

News and resources from the blogger event

Where to sign up for the monthly newsletter from the Joseph Smith Papers Project

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Papers and Panels on Mormonism at the 2016 Communal Studies Association in Salt Lake City

By September 19, 2016


This year’s meetings of the Communal Studies Association will be held in Salt Lake City, UT from October 5-8, 2016. Several of the papers address Mormon topics (you can see the full program here). Hope to see many of you there!

Friday, October 5

OPENING PLENARY SESSION: “Apocalyptic Anticipations: Mormon Millenarianism in the Early Years,” Grant Underwood

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Q&A with Brian Birch: “The Intellectual Life of Mormonism”

By August 29, 2016


When we highlighted the creation of a new course at the University of Utah sponsored by the Tanner Humanities Center, we reached out to the course professor and Marlin K. Jensen Scholar and Artist in Residence of the Tanner Center, Brian Birch, with a few questions. He has generously responded to them below.

Course Poster

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JI Heads Back to School 3

By August 22, 2016


I am a compulsive planner. Therefore, most of the work that I do in getting ready for the semester is planning out which readings and assignments will take the most effort and concentration throughout the semester, the next term, and the following summer. I firmly believe that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. A good spring semester starts with planning. A good spring builds on a good fall. And a good summer builds on top of a great school year.

Planning Process

While reading this post, it’s also important to keep in mind that I am constantly thinking about how to be a good husband and father while doing everything I need to do with school and work. Every person needs to figure out his or her own work/family balance. However, for me, I know I will have primary care for my daughter on Mondays and part of Fridays and will be with my family for most Saturdays and Sundays. My wife works part time as a CPA (which means full-time during busy season). It takes a lot of planning and flexibility, but it’s worked well for my family situation (so far). However, it’s taken a lot of trial, error, and help from friends and family.

[I wrote this before Amanda’s intro to the series, and I wanted to add something: GET OUT AND FIND SOME MENTORS. You may be waiting for that perfect professor to come along that will take you under their wing. I’ve been lucky enough to have supportive and kind mentors at every level of my education, but I’ve benefited just as much, if not more, from “horizontal mentoring.” Ask questions to the people at your level, just ahead, or just below. Make academic friends on Facebook/Twitter/anywhere you go. You’ll learn and teach more effectively if you’re learning from and teaching those around you, too.]

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