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State of the Discipline

Building a Bibliography: The History of Mormon Practice

By March 7, 2014


Today’s the day here at JI when, in keeping with our theme this month, we compile a listing of scholarship on the history of Mormon practice. This is intended to be a collaboration, so we hope you’ll jump in and contribute. The list below ought to get us going, but many studies have surely been overlooked, and the categories are arbitrary, so additions and reconfigurations are more than welcome. What works and categories are we missing? What glaring lacunae do you see in the field? What piques your interest? What trends can you identify? How much praise can we heap upon the superstars here? Share your thoughts and insights as we build a comprehensive bibliography.

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The Mormon Experience in Perspective: A New Series from the U of U Press

By December 16, 2013


From the University of Utah Press:

University of Utah Press would like to announce a new series:

 The Mormon Experience in Perspective

The University of Utah Press is pleased to announce a new series in Mormon studies edited by Robert A. Goldberg and W. Paul Reeve. This series situates Mormonism?its culture, institutions, and people?in a broad perspective that reflects the views of religious studies, history, literature, theology, politics, and other disciplines. Titles published in this series will facilitate and enhance the scholarly exploration of the Mormon experience in ways that enrich our understanding of the role religion plays in shaping the human condition.

Robert A. Goldberg, as the director of the Tanner Humanities Center, organized and led the Mormon Studies initiative at the University of Utah, where he is also a professor of history. He is the author of Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America; Back to the Soil: The Jewish Farmers of Clarion, Utah, and Their World (University of Utah Press, 2011); Barry Goldwater; and other books. His courses at the University of Utah include one in American Social Movements.

W. Paul Reeve?s current book project, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, is under contract at Oxford University Press. He is the author of Making Space on the Western Frontier: Mormons, Miners, and Southern Paiutes and coeditor of Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. He teaches courses on Utah history, Mormon history, and the history of the U.S. West at University of Utah.

The University of Utah has been a center for scholarship in Mormon culture, religion, and history since its founding as the University of Deseret in 1850. The University of Utah Press has been contributing to this work by disseminating relevant scholarship for more than sixty years. Manuscript monographs in The Mormon Experience in Perspective series are eligible for competition inthe Press?s Juanita Brooks

Prize in Mormon Studies, a $10,000 biennial book publication prize.


Previewing 2014: Looking Ahead to Forthcoming Books in Mormon History

By December 10, 2013


Last week I highlighted noteworthy books and articles in Mormon history from 2013. But today, I’m not here to talk about the past. Continuing a tradition from last year, this post highlights forthcoming scholarship slated to appear in 2014.

This is not a comprehensive overview; for that, we can only hope that Jared T. continues his prestigious and exhaustive series at his blog. (I will include a link to his post if/when it shows up.) These are merely those works that I’m personally excited for, which obviously reflects my own interests. I encourage you to share your own additions in the comments below. And just like any year, some of these volumes may slip out of 2014 and appear the following year; but at least they are nearing arrival.

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The Re-Convergence of Mormon and Indian History

By November 7, 2013


This installment of the JI’s Mormons and Natives month comes from Matthew Garrett, associate professor of history at Bakersfield College in California. He received his Ph.D. in American History from Arizona State University in 2010. He is currently revising for publication his dissertation, “Mormons, Indians, and Lamanites: The Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-2000,”  which should prove to be the definitive history of the ISPP.

When David G. approached me to contribute to this month?s theme, I initially thought the notion of a ?Mormons and Natives? field of study seemed a bit odd. I never viewed the two fields with much connectivity, other than a few mid-century works about Jacob Hamblin or Chief Wakara. As I sat down to draft out the separate evolutions of the two fields, the task proved far more complicated than expected, and the only way I could think to articulate it was to take the reader on a semi-biographical journey that follows my own intellectual awakening. I trust that the Juvenile Instructor?s readers will tolerate a little self-indulgence as I relate the divergence and re-convergence of Mormon and Indian history.

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Scholarly Inquiry: A Q&A with John Fea

By September 3, 2013


We’re thrilled to present the following Q&A with historian John Fea. Dr. Fea is Associate Professor of History and  Chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of several books, including The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2011), and Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), which he co-edited with Jay Green and Eric Miller. His latest book, Why Study History? Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, 2013) is scheduled to be released in two weeks. Dr. Fea is currently at work on two book projects—a religious history of the American Revolution and one on history and memory in the town of Greenwich, NJ. In addition to his scholarly output, John is a prodigious blogger, a tireless traveler and dynamic speaker (check out that list—chances are he’ll be in your general neck of the woods at some point), Bruce Springsteen devotee, avid sports fan, and 2010 inductee to the Montville High School (NJ) Hall of Fame. By nearly all accounts, he is also an incredibly nice guy.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Fea!

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Troubling the AHA’s Embargo Waters

By July 26, 2013


There’s a naval and mercantile metaphor in there somewhere, even if my post title doesn’t quite capture it. This is a short post just to call attention to the squall on today’s horizon about open access, digital dissertation publishing, and the tough choices facing history grad students navigating the internet’s rough seas. A perfunctory glance at my Twitter feed this morning shows that although the AHA issued a policy statement way back on the 22nd against timely open access digital publication of dissertations, today was the day it surfaced big-time. Breached the waters, you might say. It’s perhaps a tempest in a disciplinary teapot, but still: young scholars, best to take note.

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Gaining Credibility Within Mormon Studies

By December 6, 2012


This past weekend I read through Armand Mauss’s recent (and excellent) memoir, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journals of a Mormon Academic (SLC: UofU Press, 2012). There is lots to digest in it, and it should inspire several posts/discussions, but one thing stood out to me in the chapter that gave an overview of his career. I had no idea Mauss had such a circuitous route in academia before landing at Washington State University for three decades: he began as a high school teacher, moved on to a community college, and eventally landed university positions, first at Utah State University (where he somehow negotiated an Associate Professor position before finishing his dissertation!) and then at WSU in 1969, all the while working many odd jobs to support his family of eight children and finishing his schooling at night. Once at WSU, his career blossomed with many publications and increased respect.

It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that he decided to turn his attention to Mormon studies. His dissertation dealt with Mormonism and race, though he had put that topic aside during his first decade plus as a faculty member. It wasn’t until he had “earned his dues” (his words) as a scholar and member of the sociology department, singling out his ability to bring in state and federal money for his academic projects, that he could do work on Mormonism full-time (26). Only then could he take the skills and talent he gained in other fields and use them to analyze his own faith tradition.

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Previewing 2013: A Look Forward to Exciting Books in Mormon History

By December 4, 2012


Yesterday I highlighted books and articles from the last year. But 2012 is nearly history now, so let’s look forward to the next year. What you’ll find below are the books I am most excited to appear in 2013 (or very early in 2014).

This list in no way attempts to be comprehensive. (For that, let’s all hope Jared T continues his legacy of fantastic and exhaustive “Recently Released and Forthcoming Books in Mormon History” at his new site.) Rather, this post just captures a number of titles I am really excited about–make sure to add to the list in the comments. And as is unfortunately common in the publishing world, there is a chance some of these titles may slip into the next calendar year, but at least we know they are not too far off.

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2012 in Retrospect: An Overview of Noteworthy Articles and Books in Mormon History

By December 3, 2012


Continuing a tradition from the past three years, here is my overview of what I found to be the most noteworthy books and articles from the last twelve months. I like this format because it not only allows discussion of different media of publication, but it also encourages us to contemplate broader themes that are currently ?hot? in Mormon historiography. (Also make sure to check out Stapley’s always-helpful Christmas book list.)

As with previous years, I am posting this in early December and will thus miss those books published later this month. Further, the selection process was purely subjective and represent my own interests; please add your own suggestions in the comments.

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An open letter to political theorists who presume to lecture historians on how to be historians

By July 20, 2012


To whom it may concern:

I’m thrilled that you’ve taken an interest in Mormon studies. I think that there is much interdisciplinary work to be done in this emerging (sub)field and welcome the perspectives you bring from your own discipline. There seems to be some confusion on your end, though, about what historians do. Let me try and assuage your concerns by assuring you of two things:

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