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Spencer Fluhman, “Mormonism in Transition,1880-1930”

REL 479, Claremont Graduate University 2015

This course uses Mormonism to ask questions about American identity and religion. Through close examination of the Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) “transition” period, we assess what it meant to be Mormon and American in an era of expanding national power. How did a minority faith intersect with dominant notions of American citizenship, identity, and empire? What forms of accommodation and resistance characterized Mormonism’s move toward the centers of power? Scholars agree that the this period of LDS integration is significant for understanding the faith’s still-conflicted place in the nation, yet it remains curiously understudied. The course mixes analysis of select primary sources with contemporary scholarship and considers topics ranging from partisan politics, theology, gender, and family to economics. A general introduction to Mormonism will frame the course and no previous experience with the tradition or its academic study is expected or required.


The LDS Tradition/Church/People/Culture at Wide Angle; Defining the 19th-­‐‑Century “Mormon Problem”; Conceptualizing Pivots; Narrating The Pivot; Reorientation Outward and Its Negotiated Resolution; Mormons Telling Stories/Telling Mormon Stories; and more


  • Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-­‐‑day Saints, 1890-­‐‑1930, 3 ed. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2012, paperback)
  • Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-­‐‑day Saints in American Religion, updated ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, paperback)
  • Matthew B. Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith (New York: Random House, 2012, paperback)
  • Richard L. Bushman, Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, paperback)
  • Terryl L. Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004, paperback)
  • Matthew Kester, Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Reid L. Neilson, Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-­‐‑day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Jeffrey Nichols, Prostitution, Polygamy, and Power: Salt Lake City, 1847-­‐‑1918 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002; paperback 2008)
  • W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • B. H. Roberts, The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, ed. Gary Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990)
  • Jan Shipps, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987, paperback)
  • Christine Talbot, A Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture,1852-­‐‑1890 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013)
  • Annie Clark Tanner, A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography (Salt Lake City: Tanner Trust Fund, University of Utah Library, 2006, paperback)
  • Ethan R. Yorgason, Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003; paperback, 2010)