SYLLABUS: David Howlett, “Mormonisms”

RE 230C, Skidmore College 2016

Course Description:

This course investigates how Mormons have gone from an upstart, persecuted sect to participants in the conservative mainstream of American religion and culture. Topics for discussion include the Mormon creation of new scriptures; the role and evolution of prophets; conflict between church and state; the dynamics of religious schism; temple spaces and the politics of secrecy; polygamy and the family; constructions of race, gender, and sexuality; lived religion; missions and evangelism; modern pilgrimage; and the globalization of an American religion. Along the way, we will encounter the ever-changing public faces of Mormonism(s), from Joseph Smith to Mitt Romney.

Course Goals:

Students will leave this class with

  • an ability to engage secondary and primary historical sources in an original research paper.
  • an ability to write a critical book review of a scholarly work.
  • 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,
    age, and class.

Required Text:

  • David J. Howlett and John-Charles Duffy, Mormonism: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2016).

Texts for the Book Review (Choose One)

  • Joanna Brooks, The Book of Mormon Girl: An American Memoir (New York: The Free Press, 2013).
  • Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
    (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
  • W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormons Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford
    University Press, 2015).
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