The Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture, 2015 [MIPodcast #50]

  • In some ways it’s been a lonelier than usual summer at the Maxwell Institute. Since it was founded in 2006 we’ve had the privilege of hosting the Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture, a remarkable research opportunity that is somewhat legendary for the people that have passed through it, like Reid Neilson of the Church History Library, Patrick Mason and Kathleen Flake who hold chairs in Mormon Studies at universities on the east and west coast, and the Institute’s brand new executive director, Spencer Fluhman. Students, scholars, junior faculty—a variety of different people come together to study a particular aspect of Mormon culture or history and then write working papers to share some of the things they discovered and prompt further research. In lieu of the seminar this year the Institute hosted a scholars’ colloquium in honor of Richard Bushman, the Mormon historian who started the Summer Seminar back in 1997 when he was working on his acclaimed biography of Joseph Smith. Richard is still active in his studies, but he’ll be leaving the direction of summer seminars in the capable hands of Terryl Givens and possibly others going forward. This 50th episode of the Maxwell Institute Podcast will give you a sense of what the Summer Seminar is all about. Last summer I sat down with some of the participants to talk about their experiences and the papers they were working on. Their papers are now available—along with most of the seminar papers going back to 2006 when the seminar came to the Maxwell Institute—at mi.byu.edu/summerseminar.