Non-Mormons Doing Mormon Studies
How do scholars without a personal background in the LDS church navigate the waters of insider/ousiderness in Mormon Studies? How can outsiderness be an asset?
Virgil Cordano Chair of Catholic Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Some people think that scholarship on Mormonism is kind of a closed world. I can understand that in a way but that hasn’t been my reaction. . . . For example, I participated in a closed workshop on Joseph Smith’s translations. There were actually only two non-Mormon scholars there. That conference I thought was a total blast because it was a closed meeting, so it was all just historians talking history at a high level and being very candid about what they thought about the sources and how to interpret them. So that was a very “insider” event, but the “insider-ness” was based on how deeply you knew the materials. It wasn’t about Mormon versus non-Mormon.
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mormons have been persecuted and ridiculed and attacked, both by everyday Americans and the American government, and so even today Mormons still remain in a lot of ways wedded to that understanding of a persecuted, isolated religious minority.