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Taylor Petrey, “Gender, Sexuality, and Mormonism”

HDS 2119, Harvard Divinity School 2016

This course will examine broad theoretical questions about the interrelationship between religion, gender, and sexuality using Mormonism as a primary case study. It covers the development and abandonment of polygamy, the advent and contours of Mormon feminism, the deployment of sexuality, theological and ecclesiastical issues, and other topics.


  • Identify important moments, institutions, movements, shifts in Mormon discourse on gender and sexuality
  • Historicize these shifts/situate them in broader American context
  • Explore how different theoretical/theological approaches to gender (essentialist, cultural construction, queer) inform the analysis of gender in Mormonism
  • Develop analytic and research skills


Polygamy; Women and Agency in the 19th Century; Same-Sex Dynamics and Kinship in the 19th Century; Mormon Women, Motherhood, and Social Voice; Mormon Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism; Mother in Heaven; Women and priesthood; Masculinity, priesthood, and patriarchy; Sexuality and Reproduction; Homosexuality; Same-Sex Marriage


  • Richard L. Bushman, Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction
  • Holbrook and Bowman, Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example
  • Brooks, Steenblik, and Wheelwright, Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings
  • Other readings will be made available electronically