Paths to Mormon Studies

The increasingly vast net of Mormon Studies covers many disciplines. What draws a historian, a philosopher, or a literary theorist to the academic study of Mormonism?

James Faulconer

Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University

It dawned on me that this Mormon idea that there is a pre-creative chaos out of which God creates things fits well with the kinds of things that thinkers like Nietzsche and Heidegger and others are thinking, and yet at the same time is a religious idea.”

Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Washington University

“In some ways I think I had purposely avoided studying Mormonism because it seemed to me sort of the stereotypical religion in the West.”

Terryl Givens

Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond

Very little work had been done studying Mormonism in fiction—literary representations of Mormonism. And it seems to me that it’s a terribly important window into our cultural and religious history, to see how religious groups are portrayed fictively.”

Ann Taves

Virgil Cordano Chair of Catholic Studies, UC Santa Barbara

I remember the first time I read the Doctrine and Covenants and was amazed to see revelations that were actually dated and located in a place—in just a regular part of the U.S.”

Grant Wacker

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Christian History, Duke Divinity School

Where it became alive for me was the first time I met Richard Bushman. Often our interests are spurred by human relationships, and people that we’ve grown to admire personally.

But then it became more important to me when I got into the study of Pentacostalism. It struck me as I was working in Pentacostalism how many parallels there were…ecstatic behavior, involuntary trance behavior, the intense missionary impulse, the way that both traditions were both marginal to mainline culture and marginalized by others.”

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

300th Anniversary University Professor of History, Harvard University

I was just fascinated with the broader question of the place of Mormon women in the larger narrative about the women’s rights movement. They’re sort of a footnote at best in most histories about the development of women’s suffrage, even though Latter-Day Saint women were deeply involved in the national American suffrage movement.”