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Patrick Mason, “Gendering Mormonism”

REL 452, Claremont Graduate University 2014

This course will explore the intersections of religion and gender through a detailed consideration of one modern religious and cultural tradition.  Students in this course will examine Mormon history, theology, ritual, social norms, and behaviors through gendered lenses.  Readings, classroom discussions, and research and writing projects will seek to advance a dialectical conversation between Mormon studies and the broader fields of gender studies, feminist theory, and feminist theology.  Readings will be multidisciplinary in nature, combining academic literature from the fields of religious studies, history, theology, gender studies, and the social sciences, supplemented with personal voices and other primary sources that represent a diversity of Mormon experiences and worldviews.  This course is open to all students, including those with no previous knowledge of either Mormon studies or gender studies.


1. Become familiar with core aspects of Mormon history, theology, ritual, and culture that present themselves for a gendered analysis, especially but not limited to Mormon women’s experiences;
2. Become familiar with some of the basic theoretical insights and critiques of feminist and gender theory, and connect them with broader conversations in religious studies and Mormon studies;
3. Theorize the study of Mormonism as an example of the gendered analysis of religion;
4. Develop comparative frameworks by placing Mormon studies within broader discourses of religion and gender in contemporary society;
5. Sharpen skills in critical reading, writing, thinking, and speaking through class discussions and assignments.


Feminist and gender theory; 19th Century Mormon Feminism; Polygamy; Mormon women & second-wave feminism; Modern Mormon women’s roles and experiences; Masculinity, priesthood, and patriarchy; Gender identity and difference; Mother in Heaven; Women and priesthood; Sexuality; Homosexuality; Same-sex marriage


  • Anne M. Clifford, Introducing Feminist Theology (2000)
  • Claudia Bushman and Caroline Kline, eds., Mormon Women Have Their Say:  Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection (2013)