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David J. Howlett, “Mormonisms”

REL 288, Smith College 2024

Mormonism has gone from a religion of a few families to a global family of small sects and large denominations. This course explores the diversity of contemporary and historical Mormonisms. Topics for discussion include the creation of new scriptures; conflict between church and state; the dynamics of religious schism; temple spaces and the politics of secrecy; constructions of race, gender, and sexuality; missions and evangelism; modern pilgrimage; and the globalization of modern Mormonisms. In addition, students will conduct oral histories with various Mormons, including women ordained within a progressive Mormon church.

Click here to go to the podcast Women’s Rites, created as a project for this class.


Students will leave this class with

  • an ability to engage secondary and primary historical sources in a mini-research paper.
  • an ability to write a critical book review of a scholarly work.
  • an awareness of the ethical issues posed by conducting oral histories.
  • an ability to use readily accessible software to write and produce a podcast episode.
  • an understanding of several major themes, practices, beliefs, conflicts, and tensions in Mormon denominations.
  • an appreciation for the diversity of experience between and within Mormon denominations.
  • an awareness of how Mormons have shaped and been shaped by cultural constructions such as race, gender, sexuality, age, and class.


Mormon Theologies, Mormon Origins; The Book of Mormon and American Culture; Gender, Sexuality, and Families; Women’s Ordination Controversies; Mormons and Race; Indigenous Mormonisms, Imperialisms, and Decolonization; Mormons and Sacred Space; Mormons and Church-State Relations; The Mormon Life Cycle; Young Adults and the New Mormonism; Globalization and Many Mormonisms; The Once and Future Mormon Church(es)


  • David J. Howlett and John-Charles Duffy, Mormonism: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2017).
  • K. Mohrman,¬†Exceptionally Queer: Mormon Peculiarity and U.S. Nationalism¬†(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2022)
  • Caroline Kline,¬†Mormon Women at the Crossroads: Global Narratives and the Power of Connectedness (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2022).
  • Other texts required for the course will be posted on Moodle, drawn from several journals, books, and primary sources.