We’re absolutely thrilled to introduce and welcome Tona Hangen as our latest guest blogger here at the Juvenile Instructor. Tona introduces herself thus:
A bit about me: I am a bit of an odd duck in Mormon studies because although I was raised in the Church I have never lived or studied in the Mormon culture region. My undergrad degree is in anthropology from MIT (my senior thesis was a history of the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program, based on interviews and fieldwork conducted in the Navajo Nation), and my graduate degree is a doctorate in the History of American Civilization from Brandeis University. My dissertation explored the world of Protestant fundamentalist religious radio through old recordings, correspondence, sermon notes and ephemera and it took me to archives at the Fuller Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church-USA, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Billy Graham Center, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I published a book based on that research with University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2002, titled Redeeming the Dial: Radio, Religion and Popular Culture in America. I’ve published LDS-related articles in Dialogue and a chapter on Belle Spafford in the BYU-published 2005 collection New Scholarship on Latter-day Saint Women in the Twentieth Century. This year I presented at Richard Bushman’s birthday symposium in Springville and I’m currently working on a chapter on Mormon lived religion for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook to Mormonism. Unable to confine myself to just one, I run in several overlapping scholarly circles, including radio studies, media studies, cultural history, religious studies, digital humanities and women’s history. I blog about my teaching at http://tonahangen.com/blog and about the YW program and youth in the church at http://beginningsnew.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Twitter, @tonahangen.
I am in the History and Political Science department at a state university in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I teach (with a 4/4 load) the US survey since 1877, the methods course for majors, a pop-culture-based honors freshman seminar each fall and electives in social history, intellectual/civic history, medical history, religious pluralism, and the American west. I am starting my fourth year there, juggling my teaching with committee assignments and various academic advisory boards. I’m on the leadership team of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Honors Program, as I’ve discovered I have an interest in and knack for curriculum development, pedagogy and syllabus design, and program administration/assessment. I suspect that through serving in callings, many Mormons like me develop an instinct for committee work which translates very well into academic, nonprofit or business institutions (which are often starving for capable, even-tempered team players with a clue about how to run a meeting).
Although career-wise I’m probably closer to “senior statesman” status among the JI group because I am farther along the academic track, I still feel like a novice and a newbie in Mormon history and I look forward to learning from everyone as I dip my toe deeper into those waters. I hope to contribute to JI from my multiple perspectives – as a early-career full time tenure track history professor; an LDS woman who navigated graduate school, dissertation, and first book while married with a young family; a scholar of Mormonism living far away from its archival collections; and a writer always in search of new projects and new questions.
As you can tell, Tona brings a valuable perspective (or perhaps, more accurately, several valuable perspectives) to the Juvenile Instructor community, and we look forward to her contributions. Please join us in welcoming her and be sure to visit and join in the conversation on her forthcoming posts!