Whether for good or ill, blogging has become a public facet of the academy in general, and Mormon studies in particular. We at JI are proud to be the first blog exclusively devoted to the scholarly study of Mormonism, though we are pleased when we are joined by others. Last year, we welcomed Worlds Without End; this year, we welcome Unusual Excitement. While the former is an eclectic group of friends and scholars distributed throughout the nation, the latter and most recent blog is centered in one of the field’s center locations: Claremont’s Mormon Studies Program.
While Utah State University was the first academic institution to establish a chair in Mormon studies, held by Phil Barlow, and Utah Valley University has run a successful Mormon studies program for over a decade, Claremont was the first university outside of Utah to catch the Mormon studies vision and establish a chair for themselves. (Chairs have since been announced elsewhere, and finalists are currently being interviewed for the chair at UVA that begins this fall.) Richard Bushman, the godfather of the new generation of Mormon scholarship, was the inaugural holder of the Howard W. Hunter Chair, and Patrick Mason is currently in the position. According to their most recent newsletter, the Claremont program has sucessfully hosted numerous symposia, produced several publications, and keeps turning out an increasing number of students (there were eight incoming Claremont students this year associated with Mormon studies). Regardless of the increasing number of programs elsewhere, it is safe to say that Claremont will always hold an important spot in the field.
So it makes sense that their students desire to enter their voices into the digital conversation through their own blog. After an introductory post by the Student Association’s President, Bryan Cottle, they are now jumping into the important, if murky, waters of debating what “Mormon studies” really means. These are important topics, and we historians at JI are excited to see it approached from different angles. We hope to participate with them in the future, and that the charitable relations between scholarly blogs can continue.
‘Tis a feast for digital Mormon studies!