Book Announcement: Stephen C. Taysom, Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries

By October 22, 2010

Stephen C. Taysom. Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. xvi + 263 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $34.95. Cloth.

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries, by Stephen C. Taysom, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Cleveland State University and Juvenile Instructor blogger. The book is the first to be published by a JI blogger, and as such, we take particular pride in announcing it’s publication and recommending it to all of our readers.

Taysom’s book, set to hit bookshelves next month (and available for pre-order at a slightly discounted price on Amazon now), is being published by Indiana University Press as part of their acclaimed Religion in North America Series, edited by Catherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein. It is, to my knowledge, the first book in that series on Mormonism.

But Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds is about much more than Mormonism (or Shakerism for that matter). As the editors note in the book’s foreword, “Stephen C. Taysom’s volume is a creative comparative study, an exercise in historical sociology[.] … He accepts received notions of the importance of boundary maintenance for dissenting, alternative, or ‘sectarian’ communities, but he demonstrates how the Shakers and the Mormons employed different options for defining and maintaining their boundaries” (p. ix).

While comparisons of Latter-day Saints and Shakers are certainly nothing new, much of the previous research has focused solely on the divergent marital practices and sexual arrangements of the two group. Adding to that analysis, Taysom explores the rules governing day-to-day activities in each community, their respective dietary codes, and their comparative religious experiences, revealing “the larger patterns that have characterized alternative religious communities in the past and that continue to do so in the present” (p. x).

Many of us have been anxiously awaiting the book’s publication for some time (and I imagine Steve more so than anyone else!). It stands as a significant contribution to the study of Mormonism, demonstrating both the fruitfulness of comparative work and the possibilities of interdisciplinary endeavors.

At some point in the coming weeks, we will post a Q&A with Steve about his book (as well as his other research, the forthcoming Signature Books volume on Mormon Studies he edited, and Mormon Studies in general). In anticipation of that, we invite anyone interested to leave a comment below with your question for the author.

Article filed under Announcements and Events Book and Journal Reviews Comparative Mormon Studies JIers in Print


  1. Congrats, Steve! Looking forward to the posts and the book. Thanks Chris for the write up!

    Comment by Jared T. — October 22, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  2. Word.

    Comment by Tod Robbins — October 22, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  3. Congratulations, Steve. This is really quite an accomplishment. I guess I’ll start the questioning. How does the Mormon reformation fit into your analysis, and how does your interpretation of 1850s Utah dialogue with previous interpretations?

    Comment by David G. — October 22, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  4. Congrats indeed!

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 22, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  5. In your chapter on the divine androgyne, to you compare Mormon and Shaker notions of Heavenly Mother?

    Comment by Steve Fleming — October 22, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  6. Good questions. David, yours might take more time to answer than I have just at the moment. Let me get back to you later tonight or tomorrow.

    Steve, I don’t mention the Mother in Heaven idea, although it would be an interesting area to explore.

    Comment by SC Taysom — October 22, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  7. Congratulations!

    Comment by Edje Jeter — October 22, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  8. So exciting! Congratulations, SCT!

    Comment by ep — October 22, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  9. Congratulations on the publication. I hope part of the Q&A will discuss the process of revising your dissertation, finding a publisher, and the publication process.

    Comment by Jonathan Green — October 22, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  10. What about the practice of preaching to spirits during Mother Anne’s Work and Mormon baptisms for the dead?

    Comment by Steve Fleming — October 22, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  11. Very good, young squire.

    Comment by WVS — October 22, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  12. Excellent, and congrats. Added to ToRead list.

    Comment by Ben — October 23, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  13. both books look great.

    Comment by g.wesley — October 23, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  14. Looking forward to reading it!

    Comment by Max — October 23, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  15. Congratulations. Looking forward to reading it.

    Comment by Chip — October 24, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  16. Congrats, Steve!

    Comment by Ardis S. — October 25, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  17. […] and Steve Taysom have had an ongoing dialogue about Taysom’s new book, in part in response to your questions.  Part I is below; part II will come […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Q&A with Stephen C. Taysom, author of Shakers, Mormons and Religious Worlds: conflicting visions, contested boundaries (part I) — December 7, 2010 @ 7:46 am


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