Articles by

J Stuart

CFP: Book of Mormon Studies Association Conference

By January 20, 2019

From our friends at the Book of Mormon Studies Association Conference:

The Third Annual Meeting of
The Book of Mormon Studies Association
October 11-12, 2019
Utah State University

The Book of Mormon Studies Association (BoMSA) is pleased to announce its third annual meeting, to be held October 11–12, 2019, at Utah State University. The event is sponsored by USU’s Department of Religious Studies and with thanks to both Philip Barlow and Patrick Mason, successive occupiers of the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture.

This annual event gathers a variety of scholars invested in serious academic study of the Book of Mormon. It has no particular theme but instead invites papers on any subject related to the Book of Mormon from any viable academic angle. This year’s two keynote speakers will be Paul Gutjahr (Indiana University) and Amy Easton-Flake (Brigham Young University). We will also hold a special book interview session with Community of Christ scholar Dale E. Luffman.

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Sister Saints: Pain, Feminism, and Anti-Feminism

By January 16, 2019

Anne Braude once wrote, “American women’s history is American religious history.” The quote, to me, it meant that historians must listen to women, tell their stories, and understand the gendered contexts in which they lived. Women’s history is more than recovering voices. It is telling a more complete history.

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Review: Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 4, The Book of Abraham

By January 13, 2019

“The Book of Abraham typifies Joseph Smith’s experience as revelator and translator–Smith sought divine truth from his own age and from ancient documents, recorded that truth in a scriptural text, and imparted it to his people and the world. Understanding his efforts to decipher the Egyptian language adds nuance and detail to the complex story of the translation of the Book of Abraham.” Introduction to Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 4, xxix.

The Joseph Smith Papers Project’s publication of the Book of Abraham manuscript and related documents is more than the production and contextualization of documents. It provides a new way for looking at the Book of Abraham as a sacred text. Over the past several decades, scholars and apologists have battled over whether Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham (from hieroglyphs to English) or whether they had any connection to the translated text. Robin Jensen and Brian Hauglid, the volume’s editors, chose to frame their contextualization along the lines that early Latter-day Saints understood their prophet’s translation of the materials used in the Book of Abraham as “revelations” and not as a language-to-language translation. This places the Book of Abraham squarely within the family of sacred texts “translated” by Joseph Smith. Using words often associated with the “translation” of the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham is said to have been translated by “the gift and power of God” and not as a completed language project.

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Job Ad: Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies

By January 8, 2019

The Department of Religion in the School of Arts and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University invites applicants for the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies. In addition to having demonstrated excellence and broad expertise within the field of Mormon studies, the successful candidate will also be able to contribute through teaching and mentoring to at least one of the Religion Department’s four doctoral tracks: Critical Comparative Scriptures; History of Christianity and Religions of North America; Philosophy of Religion and Theology; and Women’s Studies in Religion. The candidate must have a PhD in Religious Studies or a related field and be prepared to teach one or both of the Religion Department’s required theory and methods courses.

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Previewing 2019: Looking Ahead to Forthcoming Books in Mormon History/Studies

By December 10, 2018

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).

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2019-2020 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Virginia

By December 4, 2018

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.

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2018 in Retrospect: An Overview of Recent Books and Articles in Mormon History

By December 3, 2018

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!

Women’s History

  • Matthew McBride, “Female Brethren”: Gender Dynamics in a Newly Integrated Missionary Force 1898-1915.” JSTOR (Journal of Mormon History)
  • Colleen McDannell, Sister Saints: Mormon Women since the End of Polygamy OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • 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.

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Bruce Van Orden Q&A

By December 2, 2018

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[1]:
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

What role did Phelps play in the translation of the Book of Abraham?
Read more here!

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Free Church History Library Workshop: A Day with Archivists and Other Specialists (January 11, 2019)

By November 26, 2018

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.

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Job Ad: Folklore Archives Specialist at Harold B. Lee Library

By November 5, 2018

From our friends at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT:

Job Summary:

The mission of the Folklore Archives Specialist is to 1) identify and acquire, 2) describe and organize, and 3) provide reference service for the folklore materials held in the William A. Wilson Folklore Archives within the L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

Essential functions (include, but are not limited to):

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Recent Comments

wvs on Book Review: Harvard S.: “Thanks Matt. The possible filtering through Middlemiss and the material that didn’t make the cut are factors. Nevertheless a vitally important volume. Thanks to Signature…”

Gary Bergera on Book Review: Harvard S.: “J, That's a great question. From my reading of the diaries, I think (but could easily be wrong) that Middlemiss becomes an increasing presence…”

J. Stapley on Book Review: Harvard S.: “Thanks Matt. My biggest questions around this document is the voice of Middlemiss. My hunch is that she is writing in McKay's voice more…”

Terry H on Book Review: Harvard S.: “Great review Matt. Thanks for this. I'll be looking for it. It appears a Kindle is available on the 29th of January.…”

Saskia on Sister Saints: Pain, Feminism,: “I find it frustrating beyond measure that we still see women's history (or women's anything, actually) as something different, something not-male and thus not universal,…”

Saskia on Sister Saints: Sources and: “To continue on Joey's point, this book comes at a really good time (also a dizzying time, with all the changes). I have done a…”