MSH 2017 Preliminary Program

 Thursday, May 25

There are several events taking place prior to the actual start of the conference for those who would like to participate.

  • MSH Affiliated Seminar on “Mormonism as Sound and Medium”
    12–5 pm, Harvard University, room TBA
    Organizers: Sharon Harris and Peter McMurray

    Please join us for this seminar as we explore theoretical frameworks and Mormon texts and objects with an eye toward sketching out further directions for sound and media studies of Mormonism. We will enjoy a keynote address by John Durham Peters over a provided lunch and then launch our seminar discussions.

    Readings include works from Roland Barthes, Mladen Dollar, Friedrich Kittler, Peter McMurray, Steven O’Connor, and John Durham Peters as well as Mormon scripture, hymns, and historical anecdotes. Participants should bring one written page to share with the seminar that puts an object, text, or moment of Mormonism in dialogue with the readings.

    Registration is necessary for the catering order, and space may be limited. Please register by May 1 by emailing Peter McMurray {} or Sharon Harris {}.

  • MSH evening museum outing organized by Jenny Champoux and Shawn Tucker

    meet at Basho Sushi, walk to MFA after
    7:00 meet at MFA: 45-60 minute tour of collection highlights by Jenny Champoux
    9:00 leave MFA on T for Mike’s Pastry
    9:30 meet at Mike’s Pastry in North End for fabulous Italian desserts

    If you would like to participate, please contact Jenny Champoux {} and Shawn Tucker {} and let them know!

Friday, May 26

8:30–9:00      Registration

9:00–10:15    Welcome and opening keynote by Terryl L. Givens (University of Richmond)

10:15–10:30   Break

10:30–12:00  Session

Knowing Mormonism Through Sound
Chair: Sharon Harris (Fordham University)
“(When) Is Revelation Audible? Scripture, Dictation and Voice in Early Mormonism” • Peter McMurray (Harvard University)
“God in Stereo: The Sale Lake Tabernacle and Harvey Fletcher’s Telephonic Symphony” • Amanda Beardsley (Binghamton University)
“American Musical Theater and Mormon Integration” • Jake Johnson (UCLA)

12:00–2:00    Lunch

2:00–3:30     Concurrent Sessions

A: Book of Mormon I
Sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Chair: TBA
“Wise Historians of the Book of Mormon” • Rosemary Demos (Hunter College)
“Wise Purposes” • Karen Spencer (Independent Scholar)
“What Can I Say More? Wisdom in the Book of Mormon” • Catherine Nielsen (Brigham Young University)

B: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels
Chair: TBA
“The Pathos of Elena Ferrante and Lila Cerullo: Parallel Fates of ‘Difficult Women'” • Shayla Whipple Frandsen (Independent Scholar)
“Personal Freedom in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels” • Rachel Frandsen Jardine (Independent Scholar)
“Elena Ferrante and the Matter of Difference” • Rosalynde Welch (Independent Scholar)

3:30–3:45      Break

3:45–5:15      Concurrent Sessions

A. Literature and Wisdom I
Sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities
Chair: TBA
“The (Un)Wisdom of Literature” • David Paxman (Brigham Young University)
“What Wisdom is Buried in Domestic Fiction?” • Lee Ann Westman (Rutgers University)
“How ‘Seek Ye Out of the Best Books Words of Wisdom’?” • Bruce Jorgensen (Brigham Young University)

B. What is Wisdom?
Chair: TBA
“Wisdom from Above” • Zachary Davis (Harvard Divinity School)
“Against Common Sense: Wisdom as Historical and Cultural Subversion” • Conner Bassett (University of California Santa Cruz)
“Hypomene and the LDS Word of Wisdom” • Adam Oliver Stokes (Saint Joseph’s University)

6:00–8:00      Banquet and Anniversary Roundtable

“What Part Mormon? What Part Scholarship? What Part Humanities? Reflections on the First Ten Years”
Sponsored by the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding
Participants: David Gore (University of Minnesota Duluth), George Handley (Brigham Young University), David Paxman (Brigham Young University), Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar), Rosalynde Welch (Independent Scholar)


Saturday, May 27

8:00–9:15      Business Meeting

9:15–9:30      Break

9:30–10:00    Poetry Reading: “Wisdom for the Dead and Dying” • Jonathon Penny (Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai)

10:00–10:15  Break

10:15–12:00   Concurrent Sessions

A. Modes of Wisdom
Chair: TBA
“Seer Stones and Small Means: The Scandalous Wisdom of the Book of Mormon’s Shameful Origins” • James Egan (Independent Scholar)
“Elected Wisdom” • Redge Bendheim (Claremont Graduate University)
“Toward a Mormon Theology of Teaching and Learning” • Shawn Tucker (Elon University)

B. Literature and Wisdom II
Sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities
Chair: TBA
“Decomposing Flesh and the Wisdom of Bodies” • Sarah Moore (Independent Scholar)
“Religion in Politics and the Politics of Religion: The English Civil War and Milton’s Wisdom” • William Silverman (Southern Virginia University)
“The Wisdom of Weeping Gods in Middle Earth and Mormonism” • Jacob Rennaker (John A. Widstoe Foundation)

12:00–2:00    Lunch

2:00–3:30     Concurrent Sessions

A. Book of Mormon II
Sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Chair: TBA
“Corianton’s Distorted Desire: The Plan of Restoration and Happiness” • Robert Couch (Earlham College)
“Ether and Material Narrative” • Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar)
“‘We Could Write But Little’: Faith and Fragment in Ether 12” • Kimberly Berkey (Harvard Divinity School)

B. Women and Wisdom
Chair: TBA
“Wise or Foolish: Women in Mormon Biblical Narrative Art” • Jenny Champoux (Northeastern University/Colorado Community Colleges)
“Mormonism/Womanism: Determining the Position of the African Woman” • Okafor Amaechi Henry (University of Ibadan)
“The Divine Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 1–9” • Alyson Von Feldt (Independent Scholar)

3:30–3:45      Break

3:45–5:15      Session

Theory and Wisdom
Chair: TBA
“The Rule of Wisdom” • David Gore (University of Minnesota Duluth)
“Beyond a Form of Godliness to the Power Thereof: Mormon Literature as Christo-Fiction” • Adam S. Miller (Collin College)
“Shame’s Wisdom: Notes on Stewardship” • Joseph M. Spencer (Brigham Young University)

5:15–5:30      Break

5:30–6:30      Closing keynote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Harvard University)

Call For Papers

Mormon Scholars in the Humanities

May 26–27, 2017

Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Theme: Wisdom

Mormon Scholars in the Humanities invites proposals for its 2017 annual conference. The conference topic this year is Wisdom, and papers or panels organized around the theme are encouraged. However, as always, we invite papers on other topics, including those that reflect one’s current professional research interests in the humanities.

Mormons have a long history associated with various conceptions of wisdom. Both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants each contain more references to wisdom than the New Testament, and together they provide Mormons with a strong scriptural tradition that promotes wisdom as a positive virtue. And beyond these textual examples, Mormons practice and observance of the Word of Wisdom promotes connections between embodiment and knowledge via wisdom. We encourage participants to reflect on the ways wisdom is configured in their own disciplines—the humanities also has a rich tradition of engagement with wisdom—and consider how those configurations speak to contemporary Mormon practice.

Potential topics include:

What is the relationship between texts and wisdom within Mormonism?

How do Mormon conceptions of wisdom relate to other wisdom traditions?

In what ways are wisdom and the economic figurally linked in Mormonism?

What role does wisdom literature play within Mormonism, and how does Mormonism theologically or doctrinally engage with these texts?

How is wisdom aesthetically conceptualized and depicted within the Mormon tradition?

How does the Word of Wisdom affect Mormonism’s theological understanding of wisdom, its practice, and its cultivation?

What is the relationship between wisdom and gender in Mormonism, and how should we evaluate that relationship?

We invite 250–350 word abstracts for papers, as well as proposals for organized panels. Abstracts and proposals are due January 5, 2017; acceptance notices will be sent out by February 1, 2017.

Please send submissions either as an email or as a MS Word attachment to MSH President Jenny Webb at Please include the author’s full name, affiliation, contact information, paper title, and abstract word count.

All presenters are required to register for the conference, but they are not required to members of the LDS church. MSH welcomes submissions by independent scholars and graduate students. Graduate students wishing to be considered for a Graduate Student Travel Fund award should indicate their student status with their submission.

Send all materials to:

Deadline: January 5, 2017



Narrative: 2014 Meeting at Claremont CA

Our 2014 meeting will take place at Claremont Graduate University March 27-29.

Guest speaker: With generous support from Patrick Mason, chair of Mormon Studies there, and James Faulconer, Richard L Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU, we are pleased to hear from guest speaker Richard Kearney, Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College. He will speak Saturday, March 29, at 2 pm.

The conference theme is narrative.


MSH 8-5x11

Registration and fees: You may register and pay the fees by credit card by going to the registration site at Please register by March 15. Fees are as follows:

Registration $65 includes Friday and Saturday lunches and amenities

Thursday dinner $20 (optional)

Friday dinner $20 (optional)

You may pay by check if you prefer, by March 15. Make to check to MSH and send to David Paxman, 423 E 1700 N, Mapleton, UT 84664.

Hotel: To take advantage of a group rate at the Claremont Doubletree Hotel, please contact by March 3.

Location: Claremont Graduate University is part of Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions located in Claremont CA. Nearest airport is Ontario CA.  Conference events will center on Stauffer Hall and Albrecht Auditorium, at the corner of Tenth Street and Dartmouth Ave, Claremont, CA.

Driving directions: FROM I-10 EAST OR WEST, exit Indian Hill Blvd and travel north.  Turn right on Sixth St. Turn left on College Ave, then right on Tenth St.

FROM THE I-210 EAST OR WEST, exit at Baseline / Padua and travel west. Turn left on Monte Vista Ave. Turn right on Foothill Blvd. Turn left onto College Ave, then left on Tenth St.

FROM ONTARIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, take the San Bernardino Freeway (10) west to the Indian Hill Blvd. exit. Turn right onto Indian Hill Blvd. and drive north approximately 1.5 miles. Make a right turn onto Tenth Street and drive east three blocks.

Schedule: See below for the tentative schedule. We anticipate a few changes, but the overall time frame should allow you to plan.

Selected papers from the 2013 conference, “The Mystical”

In response to your requests, many of our participants have agreed to let us post their papers from our conference on “The Mystical,” held at Brigham Young University March 15 and 16, 2013.

Conference at Southern Virginia University

MSH2012The sixth annual conference on May 18-19, 2012, was a great success. There were 35 presentations, including the keynote address by Darrick Hamilton of The New School. Each session included a full hour of discussion following three presentations. At the business meeting on May 19, the members in attendance elected Alan Goff as the new president of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, William Silverman as vice president, and David Paxman as secretary/treasurer. Best wishes to our new leaders! See you next year!