Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye of the University of Auckland is an associate editor of the Mormon Studies Review. She’s here to announce the publication of MSR volume 2 and to provide access to three free sample pieces.—BHodges
On behalf of the editors of the Mormon Studies Review I’m happy to announce that another great volume is off the presses! Better yet, it’s also available online; digital subscriptions cost $10. This extremely reasonable price is part of the MSR’s commitment to putting the best work in Mormon studies on the radar screen of as wide an audience as possible, including an audience of international scholars.
In this same spirit of accessibility, the entire content of MSR volume one is now available online free of charge.
Also, to give you a taste for the contents of volume 2, we’re offering free access to three articles (see below).
In This Volume
The topic of the forum—pieces from a variety of scholars writing on the same topic—is “Teaching Mormon Studies.” Six scholars, two of whom are members of the LDS Church, discuss the potential and pitfalls of teaching Mormon studies at the university.
Laurie Maffly-Kipp describes her first foray into teaching Mormon studies in 1999 at the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill to students who “had been raised in moderately conservative evangelical faith communities” and who tended to view Mormonism as either “a cult” or as “a seriously misguided set of theological precepts”. She suggests three strategies for teaching Mormon studies in order to tap “the puzzling space [between negative and positive perceptions of Mormonism] that fuels student motivation in class.” This article is one of the two free articles available on the MSR website, and I recommend it not only to Mormon studies scholars but also to leaders within the Mormon community who want to know how non-Mormons’ perceptions of Mormons can evolve to be more positive and nuanced. Download it here.
As for the rest of the Forum: Patrick Mason describes how his prerogative of helping graduate students in Mormon studies prepare to be professionals leads him to emphasize critical conversations over devotional voices. Jill Peterfeso discusses the process of disrupting students’ existing assumptions so that “what is familiar becomes unfamiliar, and critical engagement begins.” John Turner reviews his successful and less successful attempts to draw students into the subject. While he does not focus on “questions of ‘truth’” in his lectures or in assigned readings, neither does he steer students away from them in class discussions, finding that “prophets, persecution, and polygamy are splendid antidotes for student apathy.” Robert Rees discusses the unique Mormon studies program at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where his Mormon studies courses are also taken by UC Berkeley students. Sara Patterson addresses “the possibilities and pitfalls of incorporating Mormonism into classes that explore broader issues,” such as “History of Christianity,” “Religion in America,” and “Gender, Sex, and Family in Judeo-Christian Traditions.”
Michael Austin’s essay “The Brief History and Perpetually Exciting Future of Mormon Literary Studies” surveys the body of Mormon literary work, the presence of Mormon characters and thought in American and British literature, and the potential value of exploring the Book of Mormon as a literary text. (Fans of the contemporary TV show Sherlock may be surprised to learn that the murderer in Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, was a vengeful Mormon Danite.) ((Note: An astute Holmes fan points out that Jefferson Hope, the murderer from Doyle’s story, was not a Danite. He was a non-Mormon who murdered to avenge the death of his Mormon fiancée after escaping the terrible Danite band and Utah by the skin of his teeth. You can read the story and see its original illustrations online for free.—BHodges)) In order for a true flowering of Mormon literary studies to occur, Austin argues, Mormon literary scholars “must follow more closely along the path that Mormon historians have taken” and learn how to “make their internal conversations external.” This essay is the second of the two free articles available on the MSR website. Download it here.
More Mormon literature discussion can be found at the end of this volume’s Book Review section, in Scott Hales’s review of Steven Peck’s The Scholar of Moab and A Short Stay in Hell.
This volume’s review essays cover wide ground. Chris Beneke reviews works on anti-Mormon prejudice. Mark Mastromarino reviews The Joseph Smith Papers volumes, noting how in the facsimile edition (2009) of the Manuscript Revelation Books volume, full-color printing “enables the editors to peel back the layers of revision and trace the complicated textual history of the writing.” Roy Whitaker discusses books that engage Mormonism through interreligious dialogue, especially those written by LDS and Evangelical authors.
This section includes twelve reviews of new and exciting work in Mormon studies. One example is Colleen McDannell’s review of Christine Talbot’s A Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890. Another is Tom Simpson’s review of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey, which Simpson deems “essential reading” for “Latter-day Saints engaged in critical reflection on issues of race and racism in the church’s past (and present).”
A third example—and the third piece you can read for free—is Jeanne Kilde’s review of Kirtland Temple: the Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space. Kilde credits author David Howlett’s innovative use of the building itself as a point of entry into early Mormon history, including investigations into religious practices and contestation between the LDS and RLDS traditions of Mormonism. Download it here.
* * *
The editor and associate editors thank the contributors, copy editors, and the MSR board for their contributions to this outstanding volume. Sign up for your digital subscription today.