By September 17, 2018
On June 6-9, 2019 the Mormon History Association will gather for their fifty-fourth annual conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a friendly reminder from the 2019 program co-chairs, Brittany Chapman Nash and Taunalyn Rutherford, that the deadline for submitting proposals is November 15, 2018.
We are excited about the potential for the production of scholarly work inspired by the 2019 conference theme, “Isolation and Integration.” Gathering in Salt Lake City affords the ideal location to contemplate the duality of the Mormon yearnings to be a peculiar people (isolation) and the contradictory impulse to be accepted and “mainstream” (integration). Historical commemorations marked by 2019 echo this theme and are rich topics for potential panels and papers. Consider for example, the 150th anniversaries of the laying of the Golden Spike and John Wesley Powell’s first Colorado River exploration, the 1869 national discussion over granting Utah women suffrage, and the centennial of the dedication of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
By September 11, 2018
We are pleased to publish this review by Cristina Rosetti, a Ph.D. Candidate in Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. You can follow her on Twitter HERE.
Believe in Belief: A Review of Emily Ogden’s Credulity: The Cultural History of US Mesmerism
In the last year, the field of religious studies underwent a renewed interest in “presence,” largely due to Robert Orsi’s History and Presence. In this groundbreaking and theoretically significant work, he writes, “The study of religion is or ought to be the study of what human beings do to, for, and against the gods really present—using ‘gods’ as a synecdoche for all the special suprahuman beings with whom humans have been in relationship in different times and places—and what the gods really present do with, to, for, and against humans.” [i] Orsi’s work challenged scholars to take the religious claims of adherents seriously. Much like studies on secularism raise questions about the subject as much as the object of study, Orsi challenged the “modern” scholar to “believe in belief.” [ii] But, what about fraud? What do scholars do with falsity that, nevertheless, exerts a powerful force over people? What happens to these questions within a world that succeeded in the project of disenchantment? Enter, Emily Ogden.
By September 5, 2018
Kurt Manwaring published an interview with friend-of-the-blog Barbara Jones Brown about her work as Mormon History Association’s Executive Director at his blog, From the Desk. I can’t wait to see where Barbara takes MHA in her tenure as ED!
By September 4, 2018
Today Matt B. and I attended a release even for Saints, the new narrative history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the Church’s website, Saints is designed to share the stories of “women and men who dedicated their lives to establishing the LDS Church across the globe.” In due course, that means that readers will learn about landmark events in Mormon history, including those that don’t fit into traditional narratives of LDS Church history. The first volume covers 1815-1846, highlighting the global phenomena that led to Joseph Smith’s family moving to New York and closing with the Saints’ exodus from Illinois to the American West. To read more about the press conference, please see this Twitter thread (and follow us on Twitter). I’ve written some preliminary thoughts on Saints with quotations from LDS Church leaders and Church History Department leaders throughout.
By August 30, 2018
Over the past nine weeks, we have made our way through Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). In On Zion’s Mount, as we have learned, Farmer discusses the way Native and Mormon groups imagined and reimagined the geographical spaces among which they lived. Today we discuss chapter nine, “Performing a Remembered Past”; next week, watch this space for Jared Farmer’s response to our efforts here.
(Previous posts in the series: introduction; chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, chapter six, chapter seven, chapter eight.)
By August 23, 2018
Welcome to the eighth installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Check back every Thursday for the week’s installment. Or, you can find them here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Please follow the JI on Facebook and Twitter.
I was eight the first time I remember hiking the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. After a hike, intermittent stops for Fruit-by-the-Foot, and what seemed like an eternal wait, my family and I stepped into the dimly lit tunnel that took me into the cave. I was a little nervous that my fanny pack would bump the wall and ruin some spectacular stalactite or stalagmite, which would lead to my immediate dismissal from the Cub Scouts. Towards the end of the tour, the guide pointed to an enormous formation with a light illuminating it from behind. “This is the ‘Great Heart of Timpanogos,'” she said. She told us the legend of Utahna and sent our group back down the mountain, with me thinking about the poor princess who had been willing to give her life for her people to survive a drought.
I don’t remember hearing the story again until the summer after I read On Zion’s Mount in a Utah history course at BYU. Suddenly the Heart of Timpanogos didn’t seem so full of wonder and sacrifice, it felt like a painful reminder that the mountain was more than a tourist attraction–it was a place shaped by the interactions of indigenous people and Mormon settlers. Moreover, it was a place whose value and meaning was shaped by the nation in which it is found.
By August 16, 2018
I think about place names a lot. I grew up in Illinois and Iowa, with a fascinating contrast between simply-named rivers like the Rock and Plum, versus those with rolling, multi-syllabic Algonquian names like Wapsipinicon, Nishnabotna, Pecatonica, and Kishwaukee. In “Renaming the Land,” Chapter 7 in On Zion’s Mount, Jared Farmer invites us to consider the origins of Indian naming practices, not by Indians themselves, but by white Americans trying to appropriate those names for their own purposes. Specifically, Farmer is examining the authentic and invented origins of the name “Timpanogos,” as a physical and symbolic presence of the Utah Valley mountain, rooted in both Ute etymology and Mormon folklore. Farmer suggests that “The ‘Indianness’ of Mount Timpanogos begins with its name.” Place-names, or toponyms, come in different categories, like descriptive names of what people see, associative names related to a specific site, incident names referencing historical events, transfer names that move one place name to a new location, possessive names that indicate ownership of a landscape feature, and finally, for Indian place-naming, the inspirational, the invented, the commemorative, and the assimilated name, which might involve taking Indian names from one language and translating them or spelling them phonetically, for example.
By August 14, 2018
We are grateful that the new Acquisitions Editor of the University of Utah Press, Thomas Krause, took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for JI! Please make sure to follow the University of Utah Press on social media and check out their stellar Mormon Studies titles.
JI: How did you enter in the field of publishing?
TK: I started in 2010 as an editorial assistant at the University of Oklahoma Press. At the time, I was a first-year graduate student at
By July 20, 2018
It’s true: Neil Armstrong led an expedition into an Ecuadorian jungle to search for gold plates. The story begins with a Latter-day Saint mission president, an eccentric anthropologist, and an Italian Catholic missionary. It ends with Donny Osmond. And there are aliens in the middle.
By July 17, 2018
This post is part of our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website.
The George Q. Cannon journals provide insights into Mormon conceptions of race in the nineteenth century. Cannon had a long tenure in the Quorum of the Twelve, as a counselor to different church presidents, and extensive involvement in writing and publishing. Because of this participation in church leadership and publication, Cannon’s writings show how church leaders conceived of race as the church changed and expanded during the nineteenth century. I will give a few examples here of instances in his journal where he discusses racial ideologies, but there are many more.
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