The New Mormon Studies Centers

What is the potential of the new Mormon Studies centers appearing around the country? These seasoned scholars express their hopes for the future of the field.

Grant Wacker

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Christian History, Duke Divinity School

What I hope would not come out of [these centers] is parochialism, defensiveness, confessionalism, proselytism. . . . What I would hope to see emerging is a greater integration of Mormon Studies with the rest of American Studies.

 

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

300th Anniversary University Professor of History, Harvard University

Mormon history is American history, it’s British history, it’s European history and increasingly international history. It’s a history about colonialism, about encounters of Euro-Americans with American Indians, it’s about the South Pacific…I think scholars have barely begun to mine the riches there are in this group of people who like to document things.

 

Matthew Grow

Director of Publications, LDS Church History Department

Kate Holbrook

Managing Historian of Women’s History, LDS Church History Department

Of course we don’t want all of our Mormon studies to be about Utah! And so we need centers around the country.

These initiatives help legitimize Mormon history as a field, in the sense that it needs to be taken seriously and integrated into the broader narrative. It’s something that should be taken seriously Not just in Utah or in the traditional Mormon heartland in the west, but at a place like the University of Virginia.

 

 Terryl Givens

Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond

I think the complexity and the richness and the intellectual coherence of Joseph Smith’s theology is something that has to be brought to the attention of a wider academic public.

 

Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Washington University

What I love most about the growth of all these new centers are the conferences, and the ways that they have fostered interaction between historians of the Mormon tradition (some of whom are LDS, some of whom are from other religious traditions) with people doing other kinds of thingsstudying Islam, studying the Bible, studying Hinduism.

 

James Faulconer

Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University

More than anything else I hope what we get is cross-fertilization between Mormonism and other ideas.