In The Chance of Salvation, Lincoln Mullen argues that nineteenth-century religious conversion fundamentally changed American religion. Conversion, Mullen argues, made religion a forced choice for Americans rather than ethnically inherited tradition. Mullen’s conversion history is a creative study that should change both American Religious History and provoke Mormon historians to further analyze early Mormon conversion. Moreover, Mullen peppers The Chance of Salvation with mini-biographies of converts and clear prose. The Chance of Salvation should stand as an important piece of scholarship, and a pleasure to read.
Every year I look forward to seeing which books will be published (you can read my recap of the best books and articles of 2018 HERE). The list isn’t comprehensive—many books don’t have listings on press websites quite yet. Nevertheless, I hope that I’ve highlighted many of the books Mormon historians are anxiously waiting to have their hands on in the next twelve months. All quotations are from the Press’s website (when available) and all links are to the publisher’s website (where available).
We invite applications from any whose work bears on American religious history, thought or practice. Preference will be given to those applicants with interest in marginal or newer religious movements, especially Mormonism.
The University of Virginia’s Religious Studies Department invites applications for one full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer for the 2019-2020 academic year. The anticipated start date is August 25, 2019. Applications are welcome from any whose work bears on American religious history, thought or practice. 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.
2018 was an exciting year for Mormon history. The Journal of Mormon History and other Mormon-specific journals published loads of strong material and other pieces found their way into broader historiographic journals. Mormon history, what some historians of American religious history describe as an “article-heavy” field, witnessed the publication of several books that will shape the field for generations. While reviewing the material published this past year, I was particularly pleased to note how the field continues to grow in key areas, both topically and methodologically.
These sorts of lists always lay bare the interests and biases of their writers. What did I miss? Tell me in the comments!
Matthew McBride, “Female Brethren”: Gender Dynamics in a Newly Integrated Missionary Force 1898-1915.” JSTOR (Journal of Mormon History)
Lori Motzkus Wilkinson, “Scribbling Women in Zion:Mormon Women’s Fascination with Fanny Fern.” JSTOR (Journal of Mormon History)
I’ve been citing Matthew McBride’s article for awhile as “unpublished paper” and am thrilled to see it in print. It’s an important history tied to the Woodruff Manifesto, the LDS Church’s globalization, and the complicated interplay of authority and gender in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Similarly, Wilkinson’s article examines the way in which Mormon women were connected to broader trends in American culture, particularly literary culture.
We will be hosting a roundtable on McDannell’s Sister Saints in the New Year. I’ll suffice it to say here that it is a field-changer and is worth picking up as a holiday gift, course adoption, or requesting your local library to purchase it.
Kurt Manwaring has interviewed Bruce Van Orden about his new biography of W.W. Phelps. Here’s a taste of the interview (a link to the rest is below!):
Phelps wrote many hymns, including “The Spirit of God.” Do we know anything about what influenced his writing of the last verse of which is no longer sung?
There were six original verses to “The Spirit of God.” Verses four and five (not the last verse) are those no longer included in the hymnbook, although they did appear in the original hymnbook that came out in 1836.
Here they are: We’ll wash, and be wash’d, and with oil be anointed Withal not omitting the washing of feet: For he that receiveth his penny appointed, Must surely be clean at the harvest of wheat. We’ll sing and we’ll shout &c.Old Israel that fled from the world for his freedom, Must come with the cloud and the pillar, amain: A Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua lead him, And feed him on manna from heaven again.We’ll sing and we’ll shout &c.
The entire of “The Spirit of God” was inspired by the spiritual outpourings that occurred in the Kirtland Temple in January 1836 leading up to the eventual dedication March 27, 1836. The powerful experiences are now referred to as the “Kirtland endowment.” Chapter 18 of the biography deals with all these events connected with the Kirtland endowment and the dedication.
What role did Phelps play in the translation of the Book of Abraham? Read more here!
Ammon Bundy, the erstwhile hero of the loosely organized anti-government militia movement in Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada who engaged in a 41-day standoff with federal authorities in 2016, made something of a splash on Tuesday when he weighed in on the latest reports of border officials tear gassing asylum seekers at the Mexico-U.S. border in a 17-minute long video streamed live on his facebook page.
To the surprise of many news reporters and his own supporters, Bundy defended the refugees, criticized the actions of the Trump administration, and dismissed popular conservative conspiracy theories regarding the immigrants as “a bunch of garbage”:
“[Trump] has basically called them all criminals and said they’re not coming in here. It seems that there’s been this group stereotype. But what about those who have come here for reasons of need? … What about the fathers,the mothers, the children, who have come here and are willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually by criminals?”
Our friends at the Church History Library have asked that we share this forthcoming event with the JI community. I think it will be of a lot of interest to students, independent scholars, and others getting acquainted with the Church History Library, its holdings, and the Church it represents. The event will be all day on January 11, 2019, which will include lunch, a meet and greet with Church History Consultants and MHA Officers, and individualized consultations with Church History Library Employees. Applications are due by December 31, 2018.
The purpose of the event, beyond helping students, scholars, and other specialists become familiar with the holdings of the Library, is to help build connections between the Library’s staff and its patrons. The Library wants to make its collections available to those who will most benefit from them. While some materials are restricted, there are often other resources that patrons may use in the course of their research. The archivists and other specialists will help each participants find materials from the Library to use in their research.
Lecture: “A Window into Joseph Smith’s Translation: An Exploration of the Book of Mormon Manuscripts” presented by Robin Scott Jensen
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Assembly Hall (50 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150)
The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to invite you to a special presentation in conjunction with the publication of Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts. Robin Jensen, co-editor of the volume and project archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers, will present a lecture on 15 November 2018.
Revelations and Translations, Volume 4 tracks the development of the Book of Abraham from the time Joseph Smith and others purchased Egyptian papyri in 1835 through the publication of the Book of Abraham and its accompanying illustrations in the church newspaper Times and Seasons in 1842. Introductions in the volume situate Joseph Smith’s translation process in the broader context of the nineteenth-century fascination with Egyptian history and culture, of his own effort to reveal truths from the ancient past, and of his other translation efforts.
What happens in the West doesn’t stay in the West!
The Western History Association will be holding its 2019 meeting in Las Vegas, October 16-19, 2019. The conference theme is “What happens in the West doesn’t stay in the West” and the organizers are eager to include panels that seek to connect western history and the histories and historiographies of other parts of the nation, continent, and world.
You can access the full call for papers here (https://www.westernhistory.org/2019). The deadline for panel and paper proposals is December 1, 2018. [UPDATE: The deadline for panel and paper proposals for the WHA conference has been extended to December 5, 2018.] The WHA is committed to promoting the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with various ranks and career paths on this conference program. The Program Committee will encourage sessions to include diverse sets of participants, addressing gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, religious diversity, disability-based diversity, and/or LGBTQ diversity.
The Mormon History Association’s annual conference will be in SaltLake City, June 7-10, 2018. The topic for next year’s conference is “Isolation and Integration” and the deadline for proposals is this week—Thursday the 15th. Find the Call for Papers here.