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David Knowlton, “Anthropology of Mormonism”

ANTH 3460, Utah Valley University 2023

This course shall explore the development of anthropological work on the Latter-day Saints and look at the contemporary structure of Mormon life at home and abroad. To accomplish this, we shall read key works in anthropology on Mormons which term, as we note, focuses on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints though it also engages with the diversity of societies and faiths that descend from Joseph Smith’s Restoration.

Course Goals:

Through the course, students will:

  • Obtain an overview of anthropological thought and research on Mormons.
  • Grasp the nature and structure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as organization and as community as well as key points of its religious metaphysics.
  • Gain a grasp of the complexity and richness of local, national, and international communities centered on Joseph Smith’s Restoration as they have evolved.

Covered Topics Include:

Mormonism; Latter-day Saint ecclesiology; Mormon salvation; Ex-Mormonism; Global Mormonism;

Required Texts:

  • Jon Bialecki, Machines for Making Gods: Mormonism, Transhumanism, and worlds Without End (Fordham University Press, 2022)
  • Marshall E. Brooks, Disenchanted Lives: Apostasy and Ex-Mormonism Among the Latter-day Saints (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2018)
  • Douglas J. Davies, The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace, and Glory (Routledge, 2000)
  • Thomas F. O’Dea, The Mormons (University of Chicago Press, 1978)