From the Outside Looking in: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture: The Tanner Lectures on Mormon History

From the Outside Looking in: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture: The Tanner Lectures on Mormon History

From the Outside Looking in: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture: The Tanner Lectures on Mormon History

From the Outside Looking in: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture: The Tanner Lectures on Mormon History

Synopsis

This book contains fifteen essays, each first presented as the annual Tanner Lecture at the conference of the Mormon History Association by a leading scholar. Renowned in their own specialties but relatively new to the study of Mormon history at the time of their lectures, these scholars approach Mormon history from a wide variety of perspectives, including such concerns as gender, identity creation, and globalization. Several of these essays place Mormon history within the currents of American religious history - for example, by placing Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints in conversation with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nat Turner, fellow millenarians, and freethinkers. Other essays explore the creation of Mormon identities, demonstrating how Mormons created a unique sense of themselves as a distinct people. Historians of the American West examine Mormon connections with American imperialism, the Civil War, and the wider cultural landscape. Finally, the essayists look at continuing Latter-day Saint growth around the world, within the context of the study of global religions. Examining Mormon history from an outsider's perspective, the essays presented in this volume ask intriguing questions, share fresh insights and perspectives, analyze familiar sources in unexpected ways, and situate research on the Mormon past within broader scholarly debates.

Excerpt

LEONARD J. ARRINGTON, a leading scholar who would later become Church Historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led the formation of the Mormon History Association (MHA) in December 1965 at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA). In 1972, MHA branched off from the AHA as an independent historical society. Two years later, its leadership team published the first issue of the Journal of Mormon History. More than a decade into the twenty-first century, the organization continues to exert a profound influence on the field of Mormon studies through its conferences and journal. As two scholars who have benefited from our affiliation with MHA, we are grateful for the Mormon studies community it has fostered.

Nearly fifteen years after the founding of MHA, several members met to talk about how to raise the organization’s professional profile and scholarly standing. Richard Bushman, Claudia Bushman, and Jan Shipps, all leading scholars in American religious history, recalled their brainstorming session and the germination of what would become the Tanner Lecture series.

It happens that three of us were part of discussions in 1979 as to
what could be done to make the 1980 annual meeting, marking the
150th anniversary since the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, extraordinary. Jan Shipps was president that
year. Claudia and Richard Bushman were chairs of the program
committee. Other members of the program committee were Alfred
Bush, Sharon Pugsley, plus Dean and Cheryll May. Sometime
during our discussions, Richard proposed the idea of seeking fund
ing for a lectureship that would invite an eminent scholar, whose
work has paralleled the Mormon history but has never addressed it

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