Great news today from the Maxwell Institute. For their announcement, hosted on their new blog, see here.
The emerging (sub)field of Mormon studies has proven to be as multivocal as it is diverse. Though history has long been the dominant discipline of Mormon academic research, other fields are finally staking their claim. Interdisciplinary journals like Dialogue and BYU Studies Quarterly are featuring provocative works in theology, literature, musicology, and political science. There have been an explosion of journals covering the field, to the point that one could say there is more quantity than quality. We have seen an increase in quality books, with many more to come. There are conferences throughout the nation (and lately, to a very limited extent, world), and academic chairs and programs cropping up at prestigious universities. Even the New York Times is catching on to the game. Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in such a worldwind.
That’s where the Neal A. Maxwell Institute comes in. In a (sub)field seemingly so decentralized, the Institute is trying to establish a geographic core. This will primarily be through their new journal, The Mormon Studies Review. Aimed, in part, to be a Mormon version of Books and Culture, the annual journal will offer book reviews, review essays, and discipline, methodology, and topical articles that assess recent trends in the many different disciplines that live under the eclectic umbrella of “Mormon studies.” Written for educated lay readers as well as experts, it finds one of the last remaining niches left in the Mormon studies world: a review journal that is a mix between New York Review of Books and an interdisciplinary version of Reviews in American History.
Journals typically take upon themselves the character of those in charge, so selecting the editor for such a project is crucial. The selection of Spencer Fluhman as the innaugural editor, then, is an omen of good things to come. Fluhman is well known to JI readers, both through his book as well as the fact that he personally mentored many of us, and is regarded as one of the brightest young scholars of the field. While he is a historian, and thus the selection perpetuates history as the center of Mormon studies, he has an interdisciplinary background and has the wide-ranging mind to make the journal truly interdisciplinary. Further, he has accumulated a top-notch editorial board that represents the top of the field in numerous disciplines:
- Philip L. Barlow, Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, Utah State University
- Richard L. Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History, emeritus, Columbia University
- Douglas J. Davies, Professor of Theology and Religion, Durham University
- Eric A. Eliason, Professor of English, Brigham Young University
- James E. Faulconer, Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding, Professor of Philosophy, Brigham Young University
- Kathleen Flake, Associate Professor of American Religious History, Vanderbilt University
- Terryl L. Givens, James A. Bostwick Chair of English and Professor of Literature and Religion, University of Richmond
- Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
- Matthew J. Grow, Director of Publications, Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Grant Hardy, Professor of History and Religious Studies, University of North Carolina—Asheville
- David F. Holland, Associate Professor of History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Patrick Q. Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University
- Quincy D. Newell, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Wyoming
- Grant Underwood, Professor of History, Brigham Young University
Along with Morgan Davis, I have the privilege to serve as Associate Editor, and I am genuinely thrilled to participate in such an impressive and important project.
The first issue should become available later this year. Look out for that, as well as the Maxwell Institute’s fantastic new website, which should go live within a few months. Make sure to follow their new twitter account, @MI_BYU, as well as their facebook page.
ADDITION: Make sure to read this Q&A with Fluhman, in which he outlines his vision for the journal.