Today’s post comes from Craig Yugawa. Craig is an MD candidate at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. His current research focuses on healthcare access, physician advocacy, and sports medicine. He holds a BA in American Studies from Brigham Young University, where his studies focused on the cultural impact of sports and religion. You can follow him on twitter at @BYU_craiggers.
This weekend I happened upon a post on LDS Living that led to post a few animated tweets. The article is innocuous enough, pointing out Tom Brady commenting “Love my Mormons” on a recent his current teammate and BYU football alum Kyle Van Noy Instagram post. Highlighting Brady’s prior Mormon-adjacent post in 2017 that “our bodies are temples,” Danielle Wagner, the author of the post, speculates that this phrasing may, in fact, come from the influence of Alex Guerrero, codeveloper of the “TB12 Method” and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[i]
Statement of Purpose: This Unit will examine the range of topics, disciplines, and methodologies that can be brought into dialogue with Mormonism as studied in an academic environment. It is interested in exploring strategies for teaching about Mormonism, both as the main focus of a class or as a unit within a survey course. It seeks to identify the best resources available for teaching and understanding the tradition and provide encouragement for scholars to fill gaps in what is currently available. The Unit encourages significant comparative studies and interdisciplinary cross-fertilization and hopes to explore intersections between Mormonism and ethics, theology, philosophy, ecclesiology, missiology, spirituality, arts and literature, sociology, scripture, and liberation studies.
The Mormon Studies Unit seeks proposals for full sessions or individual papers that consider any aspect of Mormon experience using the methods of critical theory, philosophy, theology, history, sociology, or psychology. This includes the use of Mormonism as a case study for informing larger questions in any of these disciplines and, thus, only indirectly related to the Mormon experience.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!