From Benjamin Park, an associate editor of the Mormon Studies Review
Another November means another issue of Mormon Studies Review. This year marks a half-decade of production, a fact of which we are proud. We hope our readers will find this year’s contents both stimulating and rigorous.
Volume 5 features two roundtables, one focused on a book and the other on a theme. The review panel zeroes in on Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (Knopf, 2017), a monumental book written by a prestigious scholar. The three reviewers represent divergent angles: Ann M. Little, a noted microhistorian in her own right, examines Ulrich’s craft and context(s); Paul Reeve, a leading historian of Mormonism and Utah, places the book within those fields; and finally, Sarah Carter writes from the perspective of someone familiar with the history of polygamy outside of Mormonism. Ulrich then responds to these reviews, offering some personal context to the book. We’re providing free access to this roundtable here.
The next roundtable is a forum on a relevant and engaging topic: Mormonism as media. Benjamin Peters and John Durham Peters, both recognized authorities in the field of communications, gathered six scholars to write about what Mormonism can offer those who study “media religion”—that is, how does religiosity use, and how is it used by, different forms of media. Examples range from music to seer stones, and from Broadway musicals to Jell-O. The introduction and each of the six essays make provocative arguments, survey a broad range of scholarship, and offer tentative suggestions for future work. Together, the forum would work exceptionally well for religious studies courses that wish to introduce scholars to new methodological approaches.
As always, the Review‘s bread and butter is found in the individual book reviews. We have a single review essay this volume, a state-of-the-field essay by Amy Harris on how Mormon studies can learn from and add to recent developments in the field of genealogical scholarship. We then have sixteen shorter reviews by distinguished scholars surveying many of the recently published academic books that touch on Mormonism.
In looking over the reviews collectively, a few themes stand out. Volume 5 reviews a number of documentary histories, including Kathleen Flake overviewing the Joseph Smith Papers Project’s Council of Fifty volume, Brent Rogers surveying William MacKinnon’s history of the Utah War, and Beverly Wilson Palmer engaging the collection of LDS women’s discourses published by the Church Historian’s Press. We have a duo of reviews that evaluate work on Mormons of color—with Sujey Vega on the Indian Student Placement Program and Elise Boxer on Warner McCary—as well as another duo that highlight interdisciplinary work, with reviews from Stephen Taysom and Cory Crawford. Professors will especially enjoy the review by Jennifer Graber on two new textbooks on Mormonism, with an eye toward what can be assigned in the classroom.
And that’s not even to mention reviews from illustrious scholars like Leigh Eric Schmidt, Matthew Avery Sutton, and Seth Perry. In fact, we’re giving everyone free access right away to Perry’s review of Ann Taves’s new book, Revelatory Events.
We at the Mormon Studies Review aim to be the gauge with which scholars who might not be devoted to the field can nevertheless keep up with its developments. A one-stop-shop for scholarship on Mormonism, if you will. We hope readers will find this newest volume another contribution in that tradition.
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