MHA Proposal Networking Thread

By September 12, 2016

October 1, 2016

That’s the deadline for proposals for next year’s Mormon History Association annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s three weeks away. It is, as they say, looming.

The Call for Papers, which can be read in full here, encourages proposals for papers that explore the conference theme, “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History,” a theme that captures well both St. Louis’s history and the history of the Latter-day Saints (in all varieties) in the city.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Hmm, I’d really like to submit a proposal, but I’m unsure if my paper idea really fits that theme?”  That’s ok. The Call for Papers specifies: “Although the program committee is especially interested in papers that address the theme, all proposals will be considered.”

The Call for Papers also states: “A strong preference will be given to proposals for complete panels, meaning a chair, three presenters, and a commentator.” I know what others are thinking. “I’m new to the MHA community. I can’t think of two other people researching a similar topic to mine, or someone knowledgeable in the subject area who can serve as a commentator.” Again, it’s not the end of the world. Saying that the program committee has a strong preference for something doesn’t mean that individual proposals won’t be considered. It just means that the committee strongly prefers the former. That’s because the committee is made up of volunteers. They won’t get paid for the time they’ll put in (around demanding jobs, family life, and other responsibilities) over the coming months to evaluate each proposal and put the program together. Having served on the 2015 program committee for the conference in Provo, I can attest to this.

I also have experience on the other side of the equation. Back in 2004, I submitted my first proposal to MHA. It was a solo proposal, largely because I didn’t feel like I knew enough people to put together a complete panel. Luckily, the proposal was accepted and I had a great experience in Vermont the next year. However, a few years later, I tried my luck again by submitting another solo proposal. That time, I wasn’t so lucky, and my proposal was turned down. The rejection hurt and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.

To help you avoid that fate, this thread is intended to facilitate networking for MHA proposals over the next three weeks. Feel free to post a comment summarizing your paper idea. Hopefully, someone else with a similar idea will read your comment and then you can get in touch to develop a complete proposal. The JI moderators will help exchange emails.

Article filed under Announcements and Events Calls for Papers Mormon History Association


  1. I plan to present a paper on Samuel Clemens’s 1861 journey from St. Louis, passing through Utah Territory before ending in Nevada Territory. I’ll look at what he wrote about Utah, Brigham Young, polygamy, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre in his 1871 bestseller, Roughing It, and compare it with primary, contemporary sources documenting his experience. I’ll also examine national trends and events taking place in in the early 1870s that may have influenced Twain’s 1871 writings on Mormonism.

    If anyone knows of a panel that would be a good fit for this paper, please let me know!

    Comment by Barbara — September 12, 2016 @ 9:50 am

  2. I am currently working on a project related to Joseph Smith’s revelations/religious experiences as they relate to auditory phenomena such as hallucinations. I would love to organise a panel on “J. Smith’s Varieties of Religious Experience” which could draw on psychology, cognitive and social sciences to shed fresh light on the revelations, theophanies, etc of Smith as well as his responses to similar experiences of others. Any takers?

    Comment by Adam Powell — September 13, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

  3. All my potential co-panelists cannot attend MHA, so I’m looking for some others, on early 20th century LDS Biblical interpretation. I’m either on Joseph Fielding Smith’s Young Earth Creationism, or theological precursors to Talmage/Roberts quasi-Gap Theory.

    Comment by Ben S — September 16, 2016 @ 9:55 am

  4. We have two presenters and are looking for a third. One of our papers in in the use of revival style tents for Church services in the Southern States mission. The second is on a multi-generational house in Tennessee used for church services for perhaps 48 years.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — September 17, 2016 @ 5:45 pm

  5. Am looking to do a presentation on Relief Society’s use of ecclesiastical discipline in the pre-Utah days. Would love to know if there are any panels that still need someone.

    Comment by Spencer Wells — September 20, 2016 @ 7:01 am

  6. I am going to do a piece of the Susa Young Gates biography. Could tie in to a women’s history panel generally, history of family/divorce, or a panel on biography.

    Comment by LisaT — September 21, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  7. I am proposing a piece summarizing my 50+ oral history interviews with women who were Mormon teenagers between 1975-2008. I’ve been studying the social tensions young women experience when they move in and out of church groups, and how they use language to make sense of those tensions, both while they’re happening and later as adults. LisaT & Spencer Wells–perhaps we could assemble a women’s history panel generally or something about formal organization and women (Susa as leader of formal organizations, RS ecclesiastical discipline, and young women’s reactions to formal organization)? Even though are time periods are obviously not the same, there could easily be some overlapping themes. Or I’m open to other ideas for connection with anybody else.

    Comment by Heather Stone — September 22, 2016 @ 1:23 pm

  8. I would like to offer a proposal on the root causes, other than revolutionary tensions behind the July 1912 exodus of the Saints from Mexico. It appears from their diaries, journals, letters, and minutes of the relief committee (El Paso) that they felt somewhat abandoned by Church leadership, their local Mexican governmental officials and the Mexican federal government. I would like to explore each of these as well as their distaste for any hint of U.S. federal intervention in Mexico due to a desire to keep the extent of the practice of plural marriage under wraps from the American government. The Saints certainly “dwelt” in Mexico and literally “crossed” the border into the United States.

    I realize this post is very late. I thought it prudent, however, to post it anyway. I am a retired Mennonite and public school administrator, pastor, and professor living near the colonies in Chihuahua.

    Comment by Phil Stover — September 29, 2016 @ 4:00 pm


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