Since the time I began working on my current book project on early Book of Mormon reception history, there have been individuals who have called what I am doing women’s history. I am certainly not offended by someone saying I do women’s history, I am not opposed to women’s history. I think women’s history does significant and important compensatory work to fill a historical chasm empty for too long. My Master’s thesis was clearly women’s history, I have done consistent work in that field, as well as the discipline directly informing other work that I do.
However, I’m always interested in the formal and informal categories that we construct to order the historical field and I’m wondering what makes something women’s history? As editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Joseph Spencer, introduced my recent article here for the Maxwell Institute, he complimented my work (thanks) and summarized the article: “how early converts—and especially women—approached the text of the Book of Mormon.” I suspect Joe wanted to highlight one of the things present in my article that is often absent in Mormon History, women. However, the “especially women” gave me pause. That pause has only expanded as I have heard others describe my current work as women’s history.
MWHIT promotes research and networking in the field of Mormon Women’s History. They hold public events to promote new publications and projects and host a women’s history breakfast at the annual Mormon History Association Conference. Check out their website and join their Facebook groups: Mormon Women’s History Initiative and I Love Mormon Women’s History.
At a recent gathering in Cambridge, MA, Richard Bushman introduced Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to her hometown crowd as Mormonism’s most “distinguished and decorated scholar.” Her Pulitzer Prize, Bancroft Prize, and many other awards speak to her mastery of the historian’s craft in the broader academy. She is not only Mormonism’s most distinguished and decorated scholars, she is one of the most distinguished and decorated scholars alive today. Ulrich’s research and writing abilities made A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870a natural choice for JI’s Third Annual Summer Book Club. Hundreds of readers have followed along with our book club in the past few years. We hope to read with even more of you this summer!
On this, the anniversary of the founding of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo on March 17, 1842, I come out of a long and silent hibernation from blogging to write this, a love letter, to my Relief Society sisters, for each one of you, whether in the church or out of the church, whether fully active or barely hanging on.
On January 22, 2015, the ASU Graduate Women’s Association hosted a panel, ?Having Children in Graduate School,? which included me. During this panel, we discussed issues regarding parenthood among graduate students. As a mother of three children, I was impressed to hear about the experiences of other graduate students facing similar challenges to me. These concerns are real and widespread. I left that gathering empowered and motivated to bring these important issues to the attention of other higher education institutions and scholars. #GWAGradParent
Julie K. Allen joined the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. She received her PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 2005. Her research focuses on questions of national and cultural identity in nineteenth and twentieth century Danish, German, and Scandinavian-American culture.
Solstice was this week (which is also my birthday), a day which to me always represents a fresh start, the year’s pivot point back towards the light. This dawning feels especially significant, as the start of an unfamiliar new phase: I’ve just begun a sabbatical.
As a professor of history at a predominantly Mormon university, lately I have been a magnet for students with questions about the changes for Mormon women, especially considering the recent public attention to the roles of women in our traditional religious culture.
Naomi Watkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Education and Teacher Development at the University of La Verne, which is located in the Los Angeles area. She conducts research in adolescent literacy and children?s literature and teaches literacy pedagogy courses to teacher credential students. In June of 2013, she co-founded Aspiring Mormon Women, a non-profit organization and web site with the purpose to encourage, support, and celebrate the educational and professional aspirations of LDS women.
Cynthia has a Ph.D. in Computer Science (2009). She currently works as an independent researcher on projects in Computer Science pedagogy, and occasionally teaches undergraduate courses. She blogs about Mormon life and its intersections with pop culture and feminist issues at ByCommonConsent.