Joanna Brooks giving the Glenn M. Vernon lecture

The MSSA sponsors the Glenn M. Vernon lecture every other year at the SSSR meetings.  This year, the Glenn M. Vernon lecture will be given by Joanna Brooks, Professor of English and Comparative Studies and the Associate Dean of Graduate and Research Affairs at San Diego State University.  Her talk will be titled: What Forty Years of Mormon Feminism Teaches Us About the Study of Women in Religion: An Intellectual Agenda for the Next Forty Years.  The talk will be October 24th at 7:30 pm in the Grand Pacific Ballroom C at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

20th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture

The 20th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture has just been announced:

Title: Heroes and Hero Worship: Brigham Young and the Utah War

Speaker: Ronald W. Walker

Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014, 7 p.m.

Location: Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 N. Main, Logan, Utah

Summary: How do men and women shape history? Do human values have a role in the writing of history? At a time when the so-called New Mormon history appears to be running its course (after occupying center stage for the past half century), it may be time to rethink our approaches. Can the use of narrative biography and the expression of human values bring new understanding to Utah and Mormon history? The Utah War is an ideal opportunity to test these suppositions. The event has an intriguing cast of characters, with Mormon leader Brigham Young certainly among them. Along the way, we will discuss other questions. How soon did Mountain Meadows begin to shape events? What were constitutional theories behind Mormon resistance to the Utah Expedition? Did Mormons support the war effort? The Utah War also asks an important moral question. When and why men and women should fight a war?

Announcement here.

A House Full of Females: Faith and Family in Nineteenth-Century Mormon Diaries – Glenn Vernon Lecture at SSSR 2013

If you need another reason to attend the 2013 Society for the Scientific Study of Religion meetings in Boston, where the MSSA also meets, attending the Glenn Vernon Lecture is a pretty good one.  The Glenn Vernon Lecture will be given by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the Pulitzer-prize winning author and Harvard scholar.  Her lecture is titled, “A House Full of Females: Faith and Family in Nineteenth-Century Mormon Diaries.”  It promises to be an excellent presentation.

Mormon Media Studies Symposium 2012

We invite you to the Mormon Media Studies Symposium 2012 on November 8 – 9 at the BYU Conference Center in Provo, UT. The symposium is dedicated to fostering the academic study of all aspects of Mormons and the media, past and present. This year there will be a special focus on what has been called the ‘Mormon Moment’ and the media.

The 2012 symposium theme – “Mormon Moment(s) and the Media” – was inspired by Newsweek magazine’s June 2011 cover story, entitled: “THE MORMON MOMENT.”  The two-day conference will feature academic paper presentations and panel discussions by expert scholars and media practitioners on a wide variety of topics including: Media coverage of religion, Mormonism and Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign; the “I’m a Mormon” advertising campaign; Book of Mormon Musical; media literacy and media use in LDS families; Internet use and blogging by Mormons; LDS musicians, music, radio, and television; and much more.

The symposium is free and no pre-registration is required.  If you would like to pre-order lunch, please call (801) 422-7692.  I invite you to view the schedule here or see the attached flyer. You may also visit the symposium website for more information.

Casting Call for “Mothers and Daughters Expecting”

Members of the MSSA, I was recently contacted by the casting producer for a future Vh1 reality show about mothers and daughters who are pregnant at the same time.  Since there are slightly higher odds of this occurring among Mormons, the casting producer asked me if I would post the casting call on the MSSA website in case some members of the MSSA happen to know anyone who might fit the criteria.  Here is the casting call:

Casting Call: Vh1 & Ellen Rakieten Entertainment are casting for a new docu-series and looking for mothers and daughters who are pregnant at the same time. Vh1 is interested in documenting your lives if you find yourself and your daughter in this unique situation. If both you and your daughter are outgoing and interested in sharing your stories, please contact the casting team immediately at: Please include a brief description of why you should be part of this docu-series and what has happened in your lives since you both found out you are pregnant. Include your phone number, email address and the city/state where you live. Applicants must be 18 years or older.

Claremont Mormon Studies Conference: Laying Up Treasure: Mormons in the Marketplace

When: Fri Mar 30, 2012 to Sat Mar 31, 2012
Where: Claremont, California

Given the recent global economic recession, high unemployment rates, and strident political debates on issues such as deficits, taxation, and economic growth, concerns about money are high on public and personal agendas. From monasticism to communitarianism to prosperity theology, religion has been an important variable in cultural attitudes and ideologies toward participation in the marketplace. Brigham Young, for instance, instructed nineteenth-century Utah Mormons to produce their own food and goods, and not to trade with “gentiles,” and various towns experimented with the United Order. This separation did not last, however, and throughout the twentieth century, Mormons followed a path of economic integration. With such an example in mind, this conference seeks to explore how Mormons have theorized about and used the goods of this world personally, socially, and theologically across time and in various settings.

Possible questions to be explored include: Does LDS theology—from Joseph Smith to the early Utah period to the present—say anything distinctive about Mormons’ relationship to the market? How has the economic communitarianism of 19th-century Mormonism played out over the past century? How do Mormon teachings affect the financial and economic decisions of Mormon individuals, families, and communities (for instance, the connections between Mormon millennialism and food storage, or the dilemma of women in the workplace)? What can be said about major LDS “titans of industry,” ranging from Marriott to Covey to Romney? In what ways are Mormon economic ideals shaped by their original American context, and how do they translate in the international sphere, particularly in areas that do not hold as strongly to free market capitalism? To what extent were Latter-day Saints involved in the financial and housing industries that have been pointed to as major elements of the 2008 recession? Is there a coherent body of Mormon teaching about poverty, along the lines of a “preferential option for the poor”? In sum, is there anything distinctively “Mormon” about the ways that Latter-day Saints, historically or currently, operate as economic agents?

Since these questions, and many more, can be approached from a wide variety of disciplines and methods, we invite papers from all possible fields of academic inquiry. We strongly encourage graduate students to apply. A limited number of stipends will be available to conference presenters who need assistance for travel and lodging.

Abstracts of approximately 250 words, a one-page CV, and a presenter’s bio should be submitted by November 1, 2011. Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 1.
Please send submissions or questions to:

Original Source:

Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture – Richard V. Francaviglia

Sponsored by:
Special Collections & Archives; Merrill-Cazier Library; The Leonard J. Arrington Lecture and Archives Foundation; College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Utah State University

The lecture is free and open to the public. Call 435-797-2663 with questions.

Dr. Richard V. Francaviglia presents:

“’Like the Hajis of Meccah and Jerusalem’ — Orientalism and the Mormon Experience”

Throughout their history, the Latter-day Saints have been compared to peoples of the Middle East, a region that was also called the “Near East” and sometimes simply “the Orient” in the 1800s. Like many Americans in the early 1800s, the Mormons were well aware of — and fascinated by — the Orient. In the 1830s, Mormon prophet Joseph Smith purchased ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and translated them into the Book of Abraham. Because Smith became a prophet in post-Biblical times, he was often compared to Islam’s prophet Mohammed. The Mormons’ belief that they were the true Israelites further linked their new American faith to the ancient Near East. So, too, did the Mormons’ interpretation of Native Americans as “Lamanites” (or Lost Tribes of Israel). The Mormon belief that repositioned important Biblical locations onto American soil (for example, the Garden of Eden) was also a factor. Within a few years of the Mormons’ 1847 arrival in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, Utah was popularly considered the New Zion or New Jerusalem. As Mormon historian Leonard Arrington noted, Brigham Young was portrayed as the “American Moses” who had led the Mormon “Exodus” to this new Promised Land. Associating the Mormons with the Orient was controversial and lasted a long time. It provided ammunition to those who argued that Mormons were strange or even dangerous, and yet it also helped generate interest in the Mormon faith. The process was mutual, for the Mormons were not only given an Oriental identity by others, but willingly adopted it themselves. Using a wide range of sources, this presentation explores how and why the Latter-day Saints were “Orientalized” to become a distinctive and exotic people on the American frontier.

Dr. Francaviglia is a historian and geographer interested in how cultural attitudes shape the American West. Among his ten books are three — The Mormon Landscape (1979), Believing in Place (2003), and Go East, Young Man: Imagining the American West as the Orient (2011) — that address the important role played by religion. Although he is Professor Emeritus (University of Texas at Arlington), he now lives in Salem, Oregon, where he actively conducts research for his consulting company (Geo-Graphic Designs) and recently began teaching courses in Religious Studies at Willamette University. All college students are invited to participate in a writing competition in conjunction with this lecture. Cash awards will be given.


Thursday, September 15, 2011, at 7 pm

Logan LDS Institute Cultural Center
600 Darwin Avenue
Logan, Utah

Free parking tokens for the Aggie Terrace Parking Garage will be made available for those who attend.