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J Stuart

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 Nominations for graduate student work awards (dissertation, thesis, and unpublished graduate paper) should be submitted to Brian Birch at brian.birch@uvu.edu.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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Mormon Enigma Summer Book Club

By August 9, 2016


We hope that you’ve enjoyed our Summer Book Club! Each post in our series can be found below:

  • Week 1: Emma and Joseph, 1825-1827; The “Elect Lady” 1827-1830 [June 6]
  • Week 2: Gathering in Ohio, 1830-1834; Seas of Tribulation, 1834-1838; Strife in Missouri; Sanctuary in a Swamp, 1839-1841 [June 13]
  • Week 3: A New Order of Marriage, 1841-1842; In Search of Iniquity, Spring-Summer 1842; Aid to the Fugitive, June-September 1842 [June 20]
  • Week 4: More Wives and a Revelation, September 1842-July 1843; The Poisoning, June-December 1843; “Voice of Innocence,” January-June 1844 [June 27]
  • Week 5: A Final Farewell, June 12-28, 1844; The Lady and the Lion, Fall 1844; Inherit the Legacy, October 1844-October 1845 [July 4 or 5]
  • Week 6: The Sun Casts a Shadow, Winter 1845-1846; War in Nauvoo, February-December 1846; The Major, 1846-1849 [July 11]
  • Week 7: Change in Nauvoo, 1850-1860; Emma’s Sons, Lewis’s Son, 1860-1870 [July 18]
  • Week 8: Josephites and Brighamites, 1870-1877; The Last Testimony, 1873-1879; Epilogue [July 25]

We hope you’ll join us next summer! Feel free to suggest a book for next year’s series in the comments.


Death and the Historian’s Empathy

By July 27, 2016


My grandmother’s best friend was murdered on October 15, 1985 by Mark Hoffman. Kathy Sheets was not the intended target of the bomb that ended her life but that didn’t really seem to matter to the bombmaker, forger, and murderer. Hoffman also murdered Steve Christensen, one of my grandfather’s business partners, in an attempt to divert attention from his money problems related to forging early American documents. Many of Hoffman’s most famous forgeries were documents supposedly created by 19th century Mormons, including letters, receipts, currency, and legal affidavits.

I have known of Mark Hoffman’s crimes since I was very small. My grandparents kept a photograph of Kathy Sheets in their home and she looks startlingly like my grandmother. In fact, for many years I did not know the photograph was of Kathy, I just thought it was my grandmother.

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Summer Reads 2016

By July 20, 2016


A few weeks ago, Tom Cutterham at The Junto shared what he was reading this summer. I thought it would be fun to post about what I and other JIers are reading this summer–both to find new books to read and because I’m interested in what folks choose to read for pleasure. Please share what you’re reading in the comments! 

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Summer Book Club Week 6: Mormon Enigma, Chapters 16-18

By July 11, 2016


Click here for part onetwothree, four, and five of this year’s summer book club. 

 This week’s chapters address the transitions in Emma Smith’s life from Winter 1845-1846 through the removal of the Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo in 1846 to the Elect Lady’s marriage to Lewis Bidamon and his travels throughout 1849. Brilliantly, the authors open these chapters with a letter forged by James Bennet and/or associates of his, published in the New York Sun. In the fraudulent letter, someone impersonating Emma claims that the current governing leaders of the Mormon Church were “tyrants” and that she planned to raise her children in another faith. Furthermore, the letter-writer claimed to have never believed her husband’s revelations or his religious innovations.

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The Past and Present of Mormon Scholarship and Mormon Apologetics

By June 21, 2016


Today I’d like to offer some thoughts on last week’s Colloquium held in honor of Richard Bushman, particularly the place of Mormonism in the Academy and the history of Mormon apologetics. While I speak of apologists and apologetics, I do not wish to cast aspersions on apologists, apologetic efforts, or the historical work that is put to apologetic ends in Mormonism. I aim only to call attention to trends in LDS apologetics.

 

In her review of Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling in the Journal of American History, Jan Shipps laid out the origins of the academic study of Mormon history. Fascinatingly, she took care to note Rough Stone Rolling’s diverse reception among both academics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a particular set of paragraphs in the review’s close, Shipps stated:

Perhaps more than anything else, this diverse reaction confirms the status of the work as the crowning achievement of the “old” new Mormon history, an intellectual movement that with Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling seems to be rapidly passing into history. That is not to say that Mormon history is going away or even that the bifurcation of the Mormon past is headed for resolution. Quite the contrary…Believing historians will work in the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (then hosted by the Maxwell Institute]) mode, marshaling facts from other sources to prove the LDS scripture’s ancient bona fides. In addition, what appears to be hordes of graduate students—some Latter-day Saints and some not—are discovering that as record keepers par excellence, Mormons have left a historical legacy that will keep historians busy for many generations to come.

Shipps believed that those graduate students would “probably leave the provinciality that made so much old Mormon history inward looking.” This astute observation predicted the proliferation of the study of Mormonism within the Academy, using Mormonism and Mormons as a case study for broader themes rather than a singular drive to discover the history of religions that flowed from the theological fountain of Joseph Smith’s 1830 Church of Christ.

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How to Livetweet a Conference, featuring the Workshops, Panels, and Papers of #MHA2016 on Twitter

By June 16, 2016


Today’s post on livetweeting a conference comes from Eliza N. She is an editor who lives and works in Salt Lake City. She grew up in the Midwest and misses the cornfields. When she’s not working, reading, or watching Netflix, she enjoys running, playing volleyball, and hanging out with her dog. Eliza tries her best to follow these Twitter tips @EtotheNev.

You can see the archived tweets from #MHA2016 at the links provided at the bottom of the page! If you have tweets we missed please post them in the comments. If your tweets or session appear in the links below, please share on Twitter and Facebook (and tag either @MormonHistoryJI or our Facebook page).

 

Etiquette for Tweeting a Conference, or Seven Tips for Making Your Live-Tweet Game Sizzle

As younger generations and technology invade academia, audiences for conferences like this past weekend’s Mormon History Association’s grapple with what the heck certain platforms are and how to use them. Perhaps the most popular for MHA, Twitter is a useful and fun tool that might baffle newcomers. It takes time to learn its tricks, cadence, and inside jokes, but we can help you catch up on some of the particulars for live-tweeting a conference like MHA.

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Recent Comments

Quincy D. Newell on Review: The Council of: “I found this column by Lindy West in the NY Times (sorry, I don't know how to embed links--the url is https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/12/opinion/real-men-might-get-made-fun-of.html?_r=0) really helpful for…”


Ardis on Review: The Council of: “cjp: It's here -- in reading it, please understand that it was written for a very different audience from JI.”


cjp on Review: The Council of: “Hi Ardis, could you post a link to your review? I would love to read it! Thanks.”


Matt on Review: The Council of: “Quincy and Ardis, thank you for the follow up comments. I had thought of posting a similar clarification to your initial review, Ardis, but the…”


Ardis on Review: The Council of: “Thanks for the clarifications/corrections, Matt. I wish they had been brought up in the earlier discussion on my own review of your book, where I…”


Quincy D. Newell on Review: The Council of: “Matt, I also appreciate your thoughtful response here. As you point out, this is not (or not just) an issue of editors' blindness to…”

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