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Seminar Workshop Hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University (June 3-5, 2019 )

By October 16, 2018


In the last decades of the twentieth century, New Western historians grappled with conceptions of the “Modern” West, encouraging scholars to investigate the region’s history up to the present. They held debates, panels, and conferences on modern American West topics to discuss their findings and publish them in articles, anthologies, and monographs. Several decades have elapsed since those shockable discussions and path-breaking publications appeared. In the interceding decades, the region has continued to evolve. It is time for Western scholars to gather again and consider how the “Modern” West has changed in the 21st century.

To facilitate this effort, the Charles a Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University will host a workshop seminar (tentatively scheduled) on June 3-5, 2019 entitled “New Modern Histories of the 21st Century West.” We solicit proposals from historians and scholars who will author article-length essays and gather at BYU campus to workshop them together. Those essays will subsequently be edited and published as an anthology. All historical sub fields are welcome. The geographic scope of the “Modern West” is broadly defined to include the western states and provinces of the United States and Canada, adjacent borderlands, and areas such as Alaska, Hawai’i.   

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Review: Stone, William Bickerton: Forgotten Latter Day Prophet (Signature 2018)

By October 15, 2018


Christopher James Blythe is a Research Associate in Book of Mormon Studies at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He is a documentary editor/historian for Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Vols. 7, 9, and 12. Blythe is also the Associate Editor of the Journal of Mormon History.

Daniel Stone’s William Bickerton: Forgotten Latter Day Prophet is a biography of a significant nineteenth century Latter Day Saint “prophet, seer, and revelator.” It is largely a religious story, as much about the founding of a church, the Church of Jesus Christ, as it is the life of a man. One of Signature Books’ most significant contributions to the field of Mormon Studies has been its publication of scholarship on non-LDS Restoration traditions. Previous examples have included Vickie Cleverley Speek’s “God Has Made Us a Kingdom”: James Strang and the Midwest Mormons (2006), Will Shepard and H. Michael Marquardt’s Lost Apostles: Forgotten Members of Mormonism’s Original Quorum of the Twelve (2014), Richard S. Van Wagoner’s Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (1994), and Victoria D. Burgess’s The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston (2012). These well-researched studies have added to our knowledge of fascinating but (unfortunately) obscure communities and individuals. Stone’s volume rightfully belongs on this list and admirably fills out some of the gaps in our collective knowledge. This volume is particularly significant as the first full-length academic study written by a Bickertonite scholar with interested outsiders in mind. It is exciting to see the contingent of Mormon Studies scholars whose numbers largely consist of LDS and Community of Christ scholars (with the occasional Strangite and Fundamentalist) add another unique voice to the conversation.

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Job Ad: Women’s History and Writer

By September 18, 2018


Historian/Writer – Church History Department  
UNITED STATES |  UT-Salt Lake City
ID 217340, Type: Regular Full-Time
Posting Dates: 09/14/2018 – 10/05/2018
Job Family: Library, Research&Preservation
Department: Church History Department

PURPOSES: The Church History Department announces an opening for a historian/writer with an emphasis on women’s history within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Duties will include researching and writing, in collaboration with others, documentary and narrative histories on the experience of Latter-day Saint women.

RESPONSIBILITIES
• Conducts appropriate research accurately and within professional standards under the supervision of project management.
•  Produces publishable volumes and material for websites. Possible duties include historical research, verification of transcriptions of documents against original sources, developing and writing annotations and supplementary material, writing introductions and narrative history, or other tasks as assigned.
• Meets deadlines and performs all assigned tasks and according to professional and CHD standards.
• May perform duties on multiple projects simultaneously.
• Manages and supervises task specific research questions.
• Occasionally consults with project team on project management questions.
• Contributes to a collegial and professional atmosphere that incorporates the highest standards of behavior and cooperation, promoting teamwork and group purposes.

QUALIFICATIONS: Masters or PhD (or doctoral candidate) in history, religious studies, or related discipline, with demonstrated competence in women’s history.  Excellent writing skills and the ability to work in an academic environment that requires personal initiative and collaborative competence. Some experience with creative non-fiction or fiction writing.Professional and personal integrity required to maintain the trust and confidence of professional colleagues, department leadership, and archivists working in other public and private repositories.

WORTHINESS QUALIFICATION: Must be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and currently temple worthy.

POSTING NOTICE/MORE INFO.Please Note: All positions are subject to close without notice. Find out more about the many benefits of Church Employment at http://careers.lds.org.

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MHA 2019: Tips and Reminders

By September 17, 2018


On June 6-9, 2019 the Mormon History Association will gather for their fifty-fourth annual conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a friendly reminder from the 2019 program co-chairs, Brittany Chapman Nash and Taunalyn Rutherford, that the deadline for submitting proposals is November 15, 2018.

We are excited about the potential for the production of scholarly work inspired by the 2019 conference theme, “Isolation and Integration.” Gathering in Salt Lake City affords the ideal location to contemplate the duality of the Mormon yearnings to be a peculiar people (isolation) and the contradictory impulse to be accepted and “mainstream” (integration). Historical commemorations marked by 2019 echo this theme and are rich topics for potential panels and papers. Consider for example, the 150th anniversaries of the laying of the Golden Spike and John Wesley Powell’s first Colorado River exploration, the 1869 national discussion over granting Utah women suffrage, and the centennial of the dedication of the Laie Hawaii Temple.

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Review: Credulity: The Cultural History of US Mesmerism

By September 11, 2018


We are pleased to publish this review by Cristina Rosetti, a Ph.D. Candidate in Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. You can follow her on Twitter HERE.

Believe in Belief: A Review of Emily Ogden’s Credulity: The Cultural History of US Mesmerism

In the last year, the field of religious studies underwent a renewed interest in “presence,” largely due to Robert Orsi’s History and Presence. In this groundbreaking and theoretically significant work, he writes, “The study of religion is or ought to be the study of what human beings do to, for, and against the gods really present—using ‘gods’ as a synecdoche for all the special suprahuman beings with whom humans have been in relationship in different times and places—and what the gods really present do with, to, for, and against humans.” [i] Orsi’s work challenged scholars to take the religious claims of adherents seriously. Much like studies on secularism raise questions about the subject as much as the object of study, Orsi challenged the “modern” scholar to “believe in belief.” [ii] But, what about fraud? What do scholars do with falsity that, nevertheless, exerts a powerful force over people? What happens to these questions within a world that succeeded in the project of disenchantment? Enter, Emily Ogden.

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Women in Mormon Studies Website Launch

By July 22, 2018


This post comes from friend-of-JI Cristina Rosetti:

This year, during the Mormon History Association’s annual meeting, I was excited to learn about more women in the field that share my common interests. These women are brilliant, are the sources of exciting new research, and are breaking new ground in the field. Then, I wondered why I had to drive to Idaho to learn about their work. Women are underrepresented in the field of Mormon Studies (and academia, generally). Because of this, having a place to highlight their work and connect them with other scholars in invaluable.

This week, Women in Mormon Studies launched their website with the goal of highlighting the work of women in the field.

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Author’s Response: Mueller’s *Race and the Making of the Mormon People*

By April 5, 2018


Below is Max Perry Mueller’s response to JI’s roundtable on his book, Race and the Making of the Mormon People.

Thanks to the JI crew, especially to Jessica Nelson, Ryan T, and J Stuart for their thoughtful comments on my book, Race and the Making of the Mormon People. It?s a great honor and an immense pleasure to interact with readers who have read one?s work so deeply and carefully.

Each of the roundtable?s comments/critiques focuses on one or both of two of the major interventions of my book: the first is to theorize ?whiteness? and ?race? more broadly; the second is to theorize the ?archive.? And my response?or, better put, self-critique?is to remind us (me!) not to think too literally about race or the archive. That is, the book tries (intentionally) to have it both ways: that race and the archive are ?real??as in literal, tangible things and/or experiences?as well as ?metaphors??as in literary signifiers of signified (imagined/constructed) things.

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Guest Post: Indigenous Voices from San Juan Discuss Bears Ears at the Charles Redd Center

By April 2, 2018


Shí éí Bilagáanaa nishli dóó Kinyaa?áanii báshíshchíín. Bilagáanaa dashicheii dóó Tsinaajinii dashinálí. Ákót?éego asdzáá nishli. I am white and born for the Towering House Clan. My maternal grandfather was white and my paternal grandfather was of the Black-streaked Woods People Clan. In this way, I am a woman.

My name is Farina King. I am Assistant Professor of History and an affiliate of the Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Department at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

I am primarily writing to spread the news about an upcoming event, related to questions about monuments and the ongoing issues concerning Bears Ears, that I have been helping to organize with the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU.

The Redd Center will host a special panel at BYU on April 5 at 7 pm in the B092 JFSB on campus, which features diverse Native American voices and perspectives of Bears Ears from San Juan County, Utah. 

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Roundtable: Nelson on *Race and the Making of the Mormon People*

By March 26, 2018


This is the first of three posts on Max Perry Mueller’s Race and the Making of the Mormon People. Today’s post comes from Jessica Nelson, who recently completed an MS in history at Utah State University. She is interested in race and Mormonism in the twentieth century and loves riding her stationary bike. 

Max Perry Mueller?s book Race and the Making of the Mormon People actively and deliberately engages with the Book of Mormon. This is significant, and I hope that other scholars will follow suit and take the words of the Book of Mormon?along with its 19th century context and what it represents to Mormonism?seriously in their work. Mueller rightly demonstrates that the Book of Mormon?s stories of racial lineages are critically important to understanding racial constructs in early Mormonism.

Readers familiar with the Book of Mormon will be able to recognize that Mueller carefully read Mormonism?s foundational text. After finishing Mueller?s conclusion, however, I am left wondering how useful textual analysis and literary criticisms of the Book of Mormon are to fully understand race in nineteenth-century Mormonism. How central are Mormon scriptures to Mormon conceptions of racial otherness and whiteness? Can the Nephites as ?white? people within the Book of Mormon be problematized any more than the simplistic way that Mueller references them? Did nineteenth-century white Mormons even think of the Nephites as ?white? like they were? The Book of Mormon is inherently problematic as primary source material, but evaluating Mueller?s claims begs further examination of scripture and the characters in it.

 

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“Be confident in your identity and your ability”: Finding a Topic You Love and Staying the Course

By March 8, 2018


This is the fourth in a series of posts on selecting a finishing exams and finding a doctoral dissertation topic. All of our five participants have participated in Mormon Studies in the past, but not all of them chose to pursue a Mormon Studies topic for their dissertation. If you’d like to contribute a post that addresses this topic in future, please send me an email at joseph [dot] stuart [at] utah [dot] e dee ewe.

We are grateful for this post from Cassandra Clark, a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Utah.

Let me start by saying, choosing a dissertation topic is not for the weak of heart.  On top of the pressure to come up with an original idea, there are always those people who complicate to the process by sharing clichés like, ?Choose a topic that you love because you are going to get sick of it after studying it for a decade? or ?you will hate your topic before the end.? There is even the one that goes something like, ?be prepared to gain the dissertation fifteen.? Well, maybe that isn?t a cliché? Is it just me?

Those platitudes don?t apply to everyone.  I have worked on my topic for several years and have yet to grow weary of it.  While I am eager to complete my graduate degree, I am still enthusiastic about my topic, the time period, and the people I study.  I can?t necessarily say that I like all of the people–mainly because many of them were raving racists–but I can say that they are intriguing.

 

I decided on my dissertation topic during my first year as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah. One afternoon while digitizing sources at the Church History Library for the Utah American Digital Archive (UAIDA) I stumbled upon the transcript of an oral interview that referenced the DNA testing of Native Americans orchestrated by the LDS Church during the twentieth century. I have always loved to learn about medicine, genetics, and other science-history related subjects which is why this particular interview caught my eye.  I consulted with Matt Basso who suggested that I look into eugenics in Utah.  Mainly, I needed to establish a foundation before I dove into the DNA aspect of this particular issue. Little did I know that at the time several scholars were also interested in eugenics and Mormonism and I found myself struggling to stay ahead of the topic.  Frustrated, I decided to broaden my research scope to consider how people living in the intermountain west incorporated scientific race theories into their society and culture.

I rarely settle upon a topic before I do a preliminary scan of the available primary sources. Mainly, I want the sources to speak to me and provide me with direction. I consulted with archivists in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado and to locate materials.  My efforts paid off as I discovered that many individuals living in the intermountain west were obsessed with heredity, nature and their relation to brain function. I questioned how perceptions of the natural world influenced their definition of the ?normal? and ?abnormal? brain and how these ideas influenced whiteness.

The answer to this question became my dissertation topic. Instead of being the central focus, Mormons are a part of a broader conversation about race science and its tie to the environment.  I find that including members of the LDS Church in a larger exchange of ideas is more rewarding and an essential component of the history of the LDS Church, the intermountain west, and the nation. I am looking forward to continuing my research on DNA testing and the LDS Church once my dissertation is complete.

My decision to expand my topic was not without stumbling blocks. I have two daughters who I provide for, and I want them to have the best opportunities possible while avoiding debt.  At any given time, I am working two to three-part time jobs that prevent me from scheduling extended archival visits. My research trips are typically limited to five-day stints two to three times a year where I sit scanning documents like a fiend while streaming The Office with the occasional chat with an archivist. Researching on a tight schedule has slowed my progress, but none-the-less, I am inching closer to the finish line!

My advice to the graduate student wrestling with a dissertation topic is to listen to the sources.  Write for yourself. Be confident in your identity and your ability. Do not compare yourself to others. Never listen to anyone who judges your talent or your journey. Trust your instinct.  And finally, discuss your research with anyone who will listen.  Some of the best ideas come from sharing your research with others.

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Recent Comments

Courtney JP on Review: Stone, William Bickerton:: “Thanks for the detailed and informative review. It is great to see the growing research and publications into other Mormon traditions. I look forward to…”


J Stuart on Review: Stone, William Bickerton:: “Thanks, Chris, for the review. Very interested to get to the book!”


David G. on Review: Stone, William Bickerton:: “Thanks for the review, Chris! I have yet to read the book, but I heard Daniel respond to an Author Meets Critics panel at JWHA…”


J Stuart on Janiece Johnson on the: “Thanks, Robin. I love how Janiece mixes reception history and lived religion methodologies.”


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