(Allow me to grab my cheerleading megaphone…)
I’m happy to state that the second volume of the Mormon Studies Review is now available in digital and paperback form. If you missed it last year, I described volume one and the general outlook for the periodical here. But in short: the Mormon Studies Review attempts to chart the development of the subfield of Mormon studies, which we generally define as scholars using Mormonism to speak to larger academic issues through many disciplines (history, religious studies, literature, philosophy, sociology, etc.). The primary audience are other academics, though we are sure there are many interested in the topics that they will find much to interest them. The journal is filled by several different types of essays, all solicited: a forum (where a handful of respected scholars discuss a relevant issue), discipline essays (where a scholar engages the current state of a particular academic field), review essays (where a particular book, or series of related books, receive an extensive review), as well as traditional book reviews. As an editorial team (Spencer Fluhman is editor, while Morgan Davis, Melissa Inouye, and myself are associate editors), with extensive imput from our editorial board, choose who we think are the best people to trace the state of the subfield through their engagement with these issues and texts. We are grateful for all the authors who agreed to our invitations, especially those who are not generally part of the Mormon studies community; we feel that their participation is what makes our project most crucial to the Mormon studies world.
Melissa Inouye has a helpful overview of the new issue at the Maxwell Institute Blog; go read it now. You can also see the entire Table of Contents here. I’ll be brief by just outlining what practitioners of Mormon history will find interesting in this volume.
But first, some things that aren’t specifically related to history. The roundtable this year is about teaching Mormon studies in the classroom, a topic we devoted a month to earlier this year. We have fantastic thoughts from Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Patrick Mason, Jill Peterfeso, John Turner, Robert Reese, and Sara Patterson. (You can read Maffly-Kipp’s essay as a free sample here.) And for those interested in Mormon literature, Michael Austin wrote a great state-of-the-field essay that should be the standard overview of the topic for some time to come (you can download it here as a free sample), and Scott Hales has a very thoughful review of Steven Peck’s recent novels. If you are into religious diversity, Roy Whittaker has a very smart overview of the numerous “dialogue” books between Mormons and Evangelicals from the past decade. And though I doubt we draw many musicologists to JI, Peter McMurray wrote an absolutely wonderview review of Jeremy Grimshaw’s book on the Mormon infulences in La Monte Young’s mystical musical corpus.
Now, the history stuff.
Chris Beneke, who wrote a fabulous book on religious intolerance, and also edited a collection on the same topic, writes a review essay on the handful of books that engage nineteenth-century anti-Mormonism; besides demonstrating the methodological progression from Terryl Givens to Patrick Mason to Spencer Fluhman to Megan Sanborn-Jones, he also contextualizes what these books contribute to a growing historiography. Another review essay features Mark Mastromarino, who has worked on a number of “papers projects” including those of George Washington and John Adams, reviewing the Joseph Smith Papers Project. (Spoiler: he’s impressed.) These are the types of essays that are meant to engage not only how the subfield fo Mormon studies has implimented the rigor of broader academic fields, but also whether they are contributing to those fields.
In book reviews, Jean Kilde, perhaps the foremost scholar on American religion and architecture, reviewed friend-of-JI David Howlett’s new book on the Kirtland Temple. Anne Hyde, whose Empires, Nations, and Families is one of the most important books on the American west to be published in the last decade, reviews Todd Compton’s biography of Jacob Hamblin; anytime you can have a Bancroft-winner write for your journal, you gotta do it. Randall Balmer, one of the rockstars of Evangelical history, reviewed Craig Harline’s book Conversions. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We also feature reviews from seasoned veterans like Colleen McDannell and James Faulconer alongside upcoming scholars like Megan Goodwin and Tom Simpson.
I’m certainly too biased to judge, but the goal of the journal is to be the standard upon which Mormon studies scholarship is judged and the bridge between the Mormon studies community and the broader academic world. By inviting top academics to engage the most important scholarly texts, we hope we come close to accomplishing that.
And in order to ensure a broader audience, the good people at the Maxwell Institute have offered a dramatically low price for digital subscriptions: only $10! And that $10 gets you access to all MI journals, including the recently recalibrated Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, which features a review essay from yours truly. Or, for only $25, you get a hard copy sent to your house, as well as digital access to all journals. So please, go subscribe today.