MHA 2019: Tips and Reminders

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.

Additionally, the concepts of isolation and integration are emblematic of moments that span all periods of Mormon history and intersect with negotiations along gender, racial, cultural and transnational divides.  The theme opens doors to possible conversations between Mormon history and broader histories of missiology, colonization, globalization, and lived religion, as well as investigation of these instincts as manifested in other Restoration traditions. Of course, should you want to examine a topic which seems “isolated” from the theme, we may just want to “integrate” it anyway. J We reiterate that we welcome proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

In addition to hopefully spurring your interest in the conference theme and pointing you to the call for papers (link here) we want to provide some helpful suggestions on submitting a successful proposal by the November 15th deadline.

Brittany and I both agree whole-heartedly with Ben Park’s suggestions for submitting a winning proposal to MHA and have no interest in re-creating wheels. Hence, the rest of this post will draw on excerpts from Ben’s earlier JI post with a few minor additions of our own. (link) to Ben’s original post.  

1. First, and most importantly, a panel proposal has a much stronger chance at getting accepted than a single paper proposal. This is true for any scholarly conference, and it has become especially true at MHA in recent years. So, while individual papers will always be considered, submitting as a complete panel will substantially increase your odds of acceptance.

2. It can be tough to get two other papers, a chair, and a respondent. Feel free to use the comments below to try and find co-panelists. Two other resources for finding interested scholars include Women in Mormon Studies and Global Mormon Studies

3. In putting together your complete panels, make sure you have actually contacted your proposed chair/commenter and that everyone on your proposal is on board. And further make sure each person is only proposing one paper for the conference; while it is okay for a person to deliver a paper on one panel and serve as a chair on another, it is not okay for a person to propose papers on two different panels.

4. When providing a description of your proposed paper, be as specific as you can about your topic, your approach, and your potential findings. It is not reasonable for you to have your entire paper written at this time—heaven knows we all submit paper proposals as a way to jump-start future research—but it is pretty obvious when a proposal is written without much thought. As a program committee, we want to know that you have given the topic serious thought, that you are familiar with the sources you will consult, and that this is something that will turn out to be a fine finished product. Put simply, your paper proposal should not be something you write on a whim an hour before you submit it, perhaps with a bit of academic jargon thrown in. (Here we have to disagree slightly with Ben. Sometimes, “writing a proposal on a whim an hour before you submit it, perhaps with a bit of academic jargon thrown in” actually can result in a fruitful research project, although, Taunalyn would not know this from experience.)

5. Building on point #4, both the paper and panel proposal should cover what makes your submission relevant. What will be new in these presentations? What stories are you telling that have previously been ignored? How are they filling a space in the field previously overlooked? We sometimes like to cover the same stories, arguments, and theories again and again, so it is crucial to show what is going to be novel and important in these new presentations.

6. In putting together your panels, try your best to be as diverse as possible. This diversity includes not only demographic background, though that is always important, but also institutional or occupational background. It is always crucial to ask if your panel could benefit from a different gender, or racial perspective, a sensitivity that MHA has recently tried to address more frequently. 

7. We are also very interested in considering proposals that break the traditional three-papers-and-a-commenter structure. If you have an especially innovative idea contact Brittany or Taunalyn prior to submission to talk it through. You can reach us at

8. This may seem common sense, but it still needs to be said: if you submit a panel and are accepted, it is expected that you will show up, barring extreme cases and emergencies. Please make sure you do not have scheduled events (graduations, etc.) that will keep you from participating.

To sum up: submit your paper proposal by November 15th to Click here (link: for submission guidelines, and feel free to use the comment section below to find co-panelists. We look forward to hearing from you, and happy researching!


Article filed under Announcements and Events Miscellaneous


  1. I was wondering if anyone would like to submit a panel on Mormonism and gender and sexuality in the 20th-century U.S. My research focuses on the practice of “conversion therapy,” an umbrella term for gender identity therapies and sexual orientation change efforts.

    We could frame the panel a number of ways. I’m flexible.

    If interested, feel free to email me: chris DOT babits AT utexas DOT edu.

    Comment by Chris Babits — September 17, 2018 @ 11:57 pm

  2. Hey all. I’m planning something on Sonia Johnson that could also be framed a number of ways. Who wants in?

    Comment by Chris Talbot — September 19, 2018 @ 9:27 pm

  3. Hi everyone, I’m planning to write something about the creation of the Welfare Plan. More pointedly, I want to explore how the Welfare Plan helped the Church survive in the twentieth century by allowing Saints to embrace capitalism while still ensuring that they had monetary, emotional, and physical connections to the Church. I’m going to discuss the Plan’s impact on the RS, so this could possibly tie into papers on gender as well. If you have anything that sounds like it might work with this topic, my email is:

    akc8py (at) virginia (dot) edu

    Comment by Allison Kelley — September 27, 2018 @ 3:05 pm

  4. I’m looking to pull together a panel that discusses the matter of ecclesiastical sexual predation (focused on the May 1842 Women’s Statements) and the fact that therapeutic goals with respect to sexual abuse are often in conflict with the goals of history and justice.

    Currently have two panelists, looking for a third (and a chair and respondent). Original working title was “Perfect History,” exploring how the hiding of sexual predation in the part of William Smith et al. has contributed to an idea amongst the faithful that early Mormon leaders were above reproach, with a commensurate focus on perfected works versus the need for a merciful savior. Alternately, this could move along the lines of how a new look at our history can reduce the isolation of the abused and facilitate their integration into the community of believers.

    If interested, contact stoutmtc at gmail dot com.

    Comment by Meg Stout — October 1, 2018 @ 2:21 pm


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