Call for Papers: Mormon Scholars in the Humanities

By October 28, 2008

Prospects for Scholarship in the Humanities

May 8-9, 2009

BYU Provo and Aspen Grove, UT


A conference sponsored by Mormon Scholars in the Humanities


With growing religious fundamentalism worldwide and a national culture in the U.S. that is increasingly religious, scholarship in the Humanities has had to recognize the need for coming to terms with religious culture.  It is perhaps fair to say, however, that the academy is currently ill prepared for such a venture.  This conference seeks papers that will redress this problem by exploring the relationship between religious culture and humanistic scholarship and the prospects for a new religious criticism.  We solicit papers that will address these and other questions: What are the historical roots of the current divide between the secular and the sacred in modernity?  What are the differences and/or similarities in the reading of sacred and creative literature today or in the past?  How does the study of religion differ or parallel the study of other aspects of culture?  What difference, in other words, does belief make to the work of interpretation and criticism, either in terms of the object of study or of the researcher? Can there be such a thing as faithful scholarship? If so, how can it be defined and defended? What criticisms of culture are implicit in the beliefs and practices of religion and what has been the theoretical and historical value of such criticisms?  What has been the role of belief in the career of authors, artists, and scholars?  What obstacles does religious belief pose to cross-cultural understanding in a secular society?  What accounts for religious extremism and intolerance?  How can religion avoid the pitfalls of fundamentalism?  Do the humanities have a role in ameliorating the extreme tendencies of religious communities?  For that matter, what are the dangers of modern secularism?  What role can religion play in avoiding them?  How might we compare different religious cultures in terms of these concerns?  What different strategies and relationships have various religious traditions established with the modern secular world?

While we seek papers that will address these questions within the context of LDS belief and practice, we welcome papers from and about a variety of religious perspectives.

We also announce a scholarly mentoring opportunity at the 2009 conference. To accomplish its mission of supporting LDS scholars, senior MSH members will offer congenial coaching on specific projects. Graduate students and junior faculty members may submit a copy of a work in progress ahead of the conference. MSH will match the project with a senior scholar. The day before the conference (May 7), the two will meet to discuss how to improve the work in progress. MSH will assist with the cost of the extra day’s attendance. Those interested should send a request for assistance and an abstract of the project to George Handley by the deadline below.

Please send an abstract of a proposed paper and a brief CV to George Handley ( by January 23, 2009.

Article filed under Announcements and Events Miscellaneous


  1. I’ll endorse this conference. I attended this spring, and enjoyed it particularly because of how small it was. That and the sight of Stan Thayne lighting it up.

    Comment by matt b. — October 28, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  2. I also attended this last spring, and second what Matt B. said (both the enjoyment of the conference and Stan Thayne lighting it up).

    Comment by Ben — October 28, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  3. Matt, I communicated with George Handley and the deadline date is actually January 23, 2009.

    This is one conference I am going to make a point to attending. I doubt it will be such a small gathering this time (being held in Provo and all). Any time I can hear Terryl Givens speak is time well spent, so I sure hope he is presenting.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — October 28, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

  4. Thanks for the heads up, Matt. With it being closer to home this year, I will probably be able to attend.

    Comment by Christopher — October 28, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

  5. Ah, they’ve extended it. I’ll change the post. Thanks, Kent.

    Comment by matt b. — October 28, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

  6. Stan smokes?

    Comment by David G. — October 29, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  7. Matt or Stan, would you mind giving a brief summary of last year’s paper topics, speakers, or panels? The topic wasn’t religious criticism, was it?

    Comment by Elizabeth — October 30, 2008 @ 1:16 am

  8. Elizabeth – the theme of 2007 was ‘Interpretation,’ which was, um, interpreted pretty loosely. You can actually see the conference program here.

    Comment by matt b — October 30, 2008 @ 9:27 am


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