By May 15, 2016
This year, Kris W. and I are running a workshop on Mormonism in Religious Studies (which embraces the methodologies of history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.). We will meet at the University of Utah on Tuesday, June 7, from 9 AM to 5 PM. We will congregate in Room 351 of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Center. There is parking close by ($) but the building is also accessible by Trax or UTA bus routes.
As a participant, you will be responsible for “presenting” a colleague’s paper to the rest of the group. You will be responsible for introducing the paper to the group and assessing the paper’s strengths and weaknesses (5 minutes or less). You will then lead a discussion on the paper for 20-30 minutes.
Participants should submit a paper to their readers by May 27th, 2016 by 11:59 PM. The papers can be up to 10,000 words, including footnotes. Your submission could be anything from a blog post to a book or dissertation chapter. It is expected that each participant will read each other participant’s paper and make comments for the benefit of the author, either in track changes or by hand.
We will also discuss trends in “Mormon Studies,” or as I prefer to think of it, the study of Mormonism within an academic framework, often using the tools of religious studies. As a part of that discussion, we will read:
Dr. Richard Bushman
Dr. Jan Shipps
Dr. Stephen Taysom
Many participants will have read these articles before, but Kris and I feel that they will allow us to have an informative and engaging conversation.
Please let Kris or I know if you would like to attend by e-mail, joseph dot stuart at utah dot edu. We hope to make the workshop an annual tradition–please send a note if you’d like to be included in the future.
By May 12, 2016
John G. Turner, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.
John Turner’s new book about Mormons resembles his previous in some ways. There, as here, he tilts a familiar subject like a prism, slightly on an angle, and in so doing casts light on areas of Mormonism previously neglected. Turner’s book about Brigham Young probed deeply into the private life of the figure normally described as Mormonism’s great organizer and administrator, and so we came to know more about the slow formalization of polygamy, and the hectic landscapes of early Mormon religiosity, and the traumatic, rough and violent nineteenth century American frontier.
Here, in The Mormon Jesus, Turner delves into a topic as similarly contentious and argued over (though mostly among practitioners rather than students of American religion) as Brigham Young: Mormonism’s ideas about Jesus.
By May 11, 2016
Ronald W. Walker left an indelible impression on many Juvenile Instructor bloggers (and friends of the JI). For some, it was primarily through reading his work or hearing his conference presentations. Others of us got to know him on a more personal level, and we have contributed brief tributes below, reflecting on Ron as a historian, mentor, and friend.
Brett D. Dowdle, Joseph Smith Papers
I was saddened to learn of Ron’s death. The first time I read one of Ron’s articles was in 2006, when I read “Crisis in Zion: Heber J. Grant and the Panic of 1893.” I was instantly captivated. Ron had a way with words and a command of research that few historians ever approach. In June 2008, I was privileged to meet him for the first time, beginning a long friendship as he kindly took me on as a research assistant for his biography of Brigham Young. At the time he hired me, I was an inexperienced graduate student and historian, but he kindly worked with me to teach me how to become a proficient researcher. While working with Ron, my understanding of and appreciation for the early Utah period grew exponentially as we discussed the topic in his office. Up to the very end, Ron was dedicated to research and writing, and was pushing forward with his work on Brigham Young.
By May 10, 2016
Yesterday, the Joseph Smith Papers Project released their latest volume: Documents 4 (April 1834–September 1835). I am looking forward to diving into the volume in the coming days, but for now here are my notes from the release event:
By May 9, 2016
Word is beginning to spread that Ronald Walker, long time practitioner of Mormon history, passed away early this morning after a long struggle with cancer. Walker was immensely influential not only within the historical community, but also with many of us here at Juvenile Instructor on a personal level. We will have a post with individual tributes soon, where it will be clear that his personal relationships far outweighed even his academic work, but right now I want to give a brief overview of his scholarly accomplishments.
Originally from Montana and California, Walker received degrees from BYU, Stanford, and the University of Utah. At first part of the CES as an institute teacher and curriculum writer, Walker joined Leonard Arrington’s “camelot” in 1976. (Walker later helped fashion Arrington’s legacy through projects like co-editing his reflections.) When the history division was dissolved and moved to BYU in 1980, he became a professor of history and part of the newly-founded Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, and later became involved with the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies as well. He was exceptionally prolific during this period with articles, edited collections, and frequent involvement with BYU Studies. Walker retired from BYU in 2006 to be a full-time independent historian with a laundry list of projects to complete.
By May 5, 2016
As early-bird registration for #MHA2016 wraps up this Saturday, May 7, I thought it would be useful to highlight what our authors will speak about at this year’s conference.
In alphabetical order:
By May 4, 2016
When the Juvenile Instructor was originally conceived in Fall 2007, it was by five BYU students who had at least two things in common. First: we loved Mormon history. And second: we were all significantly influenced by Spencer Fluhman, then an assistant professor of Church History at BYU. (A third point of similarity was we all loved to waste time on the bloggernacle.) Besides being a charismatic and gregarious professor, Dr. Fluhman represented the witty and integrative field of Mormon studies to which he contributed. Since that time, Juvenile Instructor flowered into what it is today, and Fluhman emerged as a leading figure in not on Mormon studies but American religious history. He moved over to the history department, published his award-winning “A Peculiar People”: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America (UNC Press, 2012) which Jon Butler declared “the quintessential history book” (see our Q&A with Fluhman about the book here), and then was announced editor of the newly re-launched Mormon Studies Review (which I wrote about here). Three volumes of MSR have appeared since then, each containing reviews and essays from leading scholars in Mormon and American religious history, and the journal is now the premier arbiter for books in the field. (Note: I’m biased.)
Today, BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship announced Spencer Fluhman as the new director. You can read the official announcement here.
By May 3, 2016
A few years ago at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association, I asked a question about how Mormons viewed Native American polygamy and sexuality. The answer from the panel was that very little work had been done on that area. I meant to answer that question in my dissertation but ended up shelving it. This semester, as I was revising my dissertation into a book manuscript, I decided to spend a significant amount of time reading nineteenth-century Utah newspapers in order to determine whether or not the practice of Mormon polygamy changed how Mormons viewed Native American sexuality.
I’m not done with that bit of research yet, but as I was working on it, I came upon this fascinating piece of evidence.
On May 9, 1884, The Salt Lake City Herald published an article called Beaver Kittens, which spent a great deal of time discussing the lives and habits of baby beavers. Contained with the article was the following paragraph, which accuses Native American women of breastfeeding beavers:
By May 2, 2016
Brian Birch, Professor of Philosophy at Utah Valley University, will be teaching a course on the intellectual life of Mormonism this coming fall at the University of Utah. He has kindly made his syllabus and course readings available online, which many readers will want to read at their leisure.
By April 28, 2016
I attend a LDS Homemaking Meeting and bring a book that I am reading with me. It is an older volume on the teachings of Joseph Smith. I share a quote that has left me perplexed:
Respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing— that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for anybody to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration
Nobody has ever heard of this before. None of us know how to make sense of it. I leave unsatisfied, with more questions than answers.
By April 21, 2016
This last year, as part of my position as a fellow with the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy here at the University of Missouri, I ran a seminar aimed for members of the Columbia, MO, community on Mormonism’s relationship with American politics. We just held our final meeting last week, and the entire seminar was an absolute blast. (But I may be biased.) I thought others might be interested to see what we read and discussed, and this post might serve as a resource for other scholars and onlookers.
By April 19, 2016
Helen Z. Papanikolas Award for
Best Student Paper on Utah Women’s History
Utah State History sponsors the Papanikolas Award to encourage new scholarly research in the area of Utah women’s history at colleges and universities. The award is named for Helen Z. Papanikolas (1917-2004), a former member of the Utah State Board of History who was most noted for her research and writing on Utah and ethnic history, but also wrote fiction, as well as women’s history.
Helen Z. Papanikolas
- Papers must address some historical aspect of women’s lives in Utah.
- The author must be enrolled at a college or university.
- Papers need not be published.
- Papers should include original research that includes primary sources. The paper must be footnoted.
- Papers should not be more than 50 pages long.
- Papers must be received by May 15, 2016.
- Please call or E-mail us on May 16, 2016 if you have not heard directly from us that we received your paper.
The winner receives a monetary award as well as being honored at Utah State History’s annual meeting held September 30, 2016 in Salt Lake City.
Submit papers to:
By April 15, 2016
Call for Papers for the Annual Conference of The Communal Studies Association
October 6–8, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah
Anticipating the End Times:
Millennialism, Apocalypticism, and Utopianism in Intentional Communities
By April 14, 2016
It would be hard to overstate the importance of George Q. Cannon to nineteenth-century Mormonism–if you haven’t done so yet, you must read David Bitton’s exhaustive biography of the man–and there are few documentary records more important that Cannon’s diaries. Over a decade ago, the first of what was to be a long series of published editions of Cannon’s journals appeared, covering his California mission. Two years ago, the second volume of the series, covering his Hawaiian mission, finally arrived. If they continued at that rate, we might finally make it to the last volume by the end of the century.
Yet that patient publication rate ended today with the official online release of the LDS Church Historian’s Press digital edition of Cannon’s journals, which provides content for nearly all of the voluminous journals’ content.
By April 13, 2016
We’re pleased to host this research query from Amber Taylor, a PhD student at Brandeis University. Please feel free to suggest readings in the comments below. Amber can also be reached at ambercecile3 AT gmail DOT com.
I am working on the history of the LDS Church in Palestine and Israel. One of the larger historical arcs that I am working with is the Church and globalization – how that has affected the Church’s position regarding the people and politics of Israel-Palestine. As of yet, I have found very little material on the Church and globalization itself – I recognize that this is a rather recent topic, and Mormon studies as such is a rather emerging field. I have read various articles by Arnold Green that address various aspects of Mormon views on Jews/Judaism and Muslims/Islam. I am also familiar with works by Steven Epperson and Grant Underwood on similar topics. Likewise, I have the book Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century from the Sperry Symposium, and have been perusing Reid Neilson’s work, as well as Marie Cornwall’s and Tim Heaton’s Contemporary Mormonism. I am wondering if anyone can point me to other scholars – including articles and books – that have looked at the way that the 20th century globalization of the Church has affected the way that leaders have talked of peoplehood and chosenness, and other such good things related to that.
Also, I have been considering the notion of “Zion” as a major aspect of my research. I am attempting to set my dissertation in a comparative framework, looking at the Church in its American setting, and examining the ways that American views of the Holy Land, Jews, and Muslims related to the Mormon views – and how both the broader American cultural setting and Mormon particularity affected one another. Specific to the concept of Zion, American culture (especially Protestant culture) has, from its very origins, been prone to talk of America and American Christianity in terms of “Zion,” or had themes of Zion weaved throughout it in myriad ways. Likewise, the concept of American exceptionalism is, of course, bound up with this. But the Mormons went a step further – they established an actual Zion, a physical space with teleological meaning. Their peoplehood as Israelites, and their actual American Zion, makes the question of the Mormon presence in Jerusalem and Palestine-Israel rather intriguing. America has always had a fascination with the Holy Land and its import in latter-day fulfillment of prophecy, yet the Mormon ethos is unique. What were/are the Mormons actually doing in the Old Zion, if they had their Zion, the New Jerusalem, on the American continent? What purpose does the BYU Jerusalem Center actually serve in all of this? Can anyone recommend any literature on this, specifically relating to the two Zions and what LDS leaders have said about them, what they mean in terms of physicality, sacred territory, and gathering?
Thank you for your help.
By April 3, 2016
While watching the LDS General Conference this weekend I consulted Instagram for inspiration regarding breakfast choices. While I searched the #ldconf hashtag, my mind turned to the ways that historians and cultural analyze Mormonism, both now and in the future. All photos are in the public domain from Instagram.com. If anyone would like their photo removed, please contact me immediately.
Much of Mormon ritual is found in their Sunday services and temple liturgy, including the Sacrament and the performance of temple ordinances. However, Sunday morning sessions of General Conference are affectionately known in some quarters as “Pajama Church.” Because there is no need to dress up, families celebrate by staying in their pajamas. Photos documenting this trend on Instagram often show entire families on the couch together in their pjs, spending time together. This informal ritual speaks volumes about Mormon families and the ways that Mormons envision worship experiences.
By March 31, 2016
This is the third and final post in a series about Orrin Hatch’s role in the National Women’s History Week/Month in the context of the backdrop of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Last time when I left off, I intended to explore the process under which both Senator Orrin Hatch
Barbara Mikulski on Meet the Press, 1983
and then Representative Barbara Mikulski came to co-sponsor National Women’s History Week. This partnership is very curious given many of their seemingly diametrically opposed views. Mikulski was an advocate for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In 2012, as a senator, she cosponsored a bill with others to reintroduce the amendment for ratification. Most of the news coverage I found that included both Orrin Hatch and Barbara Mikulski focused on the heated debate over the Equal Rights Amendment.
My working argument throughout this series has been that the co-sponsorship of National Women’s History Week was an effort to demonstrate bipartisanship during the otherwise contentious time concerning women’s rights during this period. I do not diminish Women’s History Week as a “token” effort to show cooperation during this time, as it was a much-needed recognition during a time when other weeks and months were being set aside to celebrate the historical achievements of non-white men in power.
By March 30, 2016
If you are in Utah this June after MHA, friends and colleagues of Richard Bushman are meeting to honor him and his work on Mormonism within the Academy. Dr. Bushman has been a friend, mentor, adviser, and role model to all those that study Mormonism in its religious and historic contexts. The schedule for the Colloquium can be found below.
You can see the schedule and original press release at the Maxwell Institute’s Website.
Mormonism in the Academy: Teaching, Scholarship, & Faith
A Scholars’ Colloquium in Honor of Richard L. Bushman
Brigham Young University
June 17–18, 2016
Dr. Richard Bushman
By March 23, 2016
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Senate Historical Office
Sen. Orrin Hatch speaks at one of his first Senate hearings. From SL Tribune
This is part 2 in a 3 part series about Women’s History Week/Month and Orrin Hatch.
The late 1970s and early 1980s was a time of transformative change for the women’s movement and American women’s political activism in general. From well-known feminists like Betty Friedan, who fought for the passage of the amendment, to Phyllis Schlafly, whose STOPERA campaign innervated once politically apathetic women to political action, the campaign for and against the Equal Rights Amendment demonstrated the power of women’s political mobilization to sway the American public opinion.
By March 17, 2016
At the recent history symposium focusing on women in Mormon History, the director of the LDS Church History Library announced a new research aid entitled “Women in Church History.” Among the various highlighted documents was a link to CR 11 175, Relief Society record, 1880-1892. This caught my eye because it has been restricted in the past and closed to research, though some researchers have been granted access. I’m always grateful for wider access to historical documents such as these, and this one in particular is important. Thanks to the dedicated staff and administrators at the CHL for their ongoing work.
As it is the anniversary of the founding of Relief Society, I thought it would be fun to reproduce from this document the ordinations of the first General Presidency. May it ever increase. [Note that this is a first pass transcription, you can verify it yourself if you would like]
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