Articles by

J Stuart

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
dedication. 

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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MWHIT Lecture: Colleen McDannell on Mormon Women since the End of Polygamy

By November 4, 2018


The Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team has asked Colleen McDannell to speak and answer questions on her new book, Sister Saints: Mormon Women since the End of Polygamy, on Thursday, November 8. 2018 at the University of Utah. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend!


Mormon Exorcism: Two Articles and a Podcast Episode

By October 29, 2018


With Halloween this week, I thought it would be fun to highlight some work on a spooky topic. In the past year, scholars have published two excellent articles on exorcism in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve included them below and a link to a podcast by Blair Hodges and the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship featuring Stephen Taysom.

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CFP: Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West

By October 25, 2018


I have spoken with Amanda Hendrix-Komoto of Montana State University, and she encouraged me to tell everyone that the proposals do not have to focus on Wallace Stegner. Instead, her department is hoping that the received proposals will take a theme from Stegner’s work – family, community, etc. – and examine it in a way that goes beyond Stegner’s original vision of the West.

Wallace Stegner and the Changing American West:
Reimagining Place, Region, Nation, and Globe in an Era of Instability
-A Call for Papers and Other Creative Work-

Center for Western Lands and Peoples
Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies
College of Letters and Science / Montana State University, Bozeman

By the time of his death, Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) had become the epitome of the politically engaged western American writer able to express himself across a range of genres, from fiction to history, autobiography, and essays. In books such as The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wolf Willow, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, Angle of Repose (Pulitzer Prize), and The American West as Living Space, Stegner brought to life and illuminated the West like few other authors. Of uppermost concern to Stegner were issues of transiency and community, landscape quality and degradation, family life, the importance of place, and the need for ways of living that foster stable social bonds and stable economies within the realities and constraints of western environments.

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Rachel Gross Lecture at University of Utah

By October 22, 2018


This is not strictly Mormon history related, but many who are interested in Mormon history will want to hear Dr. Gross speak. Join us!

The Rocky Mountain American Religion Seminar will host Rachel Gross on November 1, 2018 at the University of Utah. She will deliver a lecture on Genealology and American Jewish Religion. 

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Recent Comments

J Stuart on Book Review: Lincoln Mullen–The: “The historiographical situating was really helpful for me. Thanks, Jeff!”


Christopher on God's Blessings and Labor: “Thank you, Jared* and cc, for the correction. I've updated the post.”


Hannah Jung on Previewing 2019: Looking Ahead: “Thanks for doing this Joey! I'm excited for the new year!”


Gary Bergera on Previewing 2019: Looking Ahead: “Great summary, J. Thanks for pulling all this information together.”


cc on God's Blessings and Labor: “^^ Jared is correct. Ammon served (with me) in Minnesota. The reference to Argentina in the Vice article is for Wes.”


Jared* on God's Blessings and Labor: “FYI, this Buzzfeed article says that Bundy served in Minnesota. The article linked to above appears to be talking about someone else (i.e.…”

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