SYLLABUS: David Howlett, “Mormonism”

RE 230C, Skidmore College 2018

Course Description:

Investigates the history and culture of Mormonism (in its three major streams) from the movement’s origins in the 1820s to the present. More than just about Mormons, this course provides an introduction to dynamics that shape religious movements, especially in the American context: minority religions’ relations with majority religions, or their relations with the state; religions’ attitudes toward gender, sexuality, and family; their ways of making sacred space or organizing daily life; and their ways of adapting to new global cultural settings. Along the way, we highlight the ever-changing public faces of Mormonism, from its founder Joseph Smith to the satirical characters in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon.

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).