MSH 2011: Embodiment
Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University
Co-hosted by MSH and the Association for Mormon Letters
March 24–26, 2011



Keynote Speaker

James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI; Executive Director of the Society of Christian Philosophers; and author of The Logic of Incarnation, Science and the Spirit, After Modernity, Desiring the Kingdom, and Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?

 MSH Conference Theme: Embodiment
The English poet G. M. Hopkins said, “Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best.”Latter-day Saints share a belief in the resurrection with many other Christians, but we emphasize the body even more. We assert that God is not only embodied (and perfected in that embodiment) but gendered. We see that perfected, embodied existence as the ultimate goal of humanity also. We assert that we existed before this life and longed for physical bodies so we could fulfill our eternal purpose. We are enjoined to treat our bodies as temples while in this life; we claim that in the next life we will exist with the same bodies (restored) that we had in this life. The resurrection isn’t solely spiritual for either Christ or us but looks forward to an overriding goal of physical relationships with those around us.

Because the LDS view of the body is so positive, Latter-day Saints should have unusual perspectives on many issues pertaining to the corporeal. Consider the many ways human and divine incarnation affects the individual, the family, and society. As modern culture diverges from religious models, what does the future hold for changes in views of the flesh? What disciplinary perspectives can be elucidated to illustrate these changes?

Potential Topics

Religious: Divine embodiment, Church as the body of Christ, all spirit as matter, marriage and bodily unification, Paul or Joseph Smith on the body

Philosophical: Inter-subjectivity, mind/body problem, embodied knowledge (philosophy in the flesh)

Literary: How writers register the body in various literary eras, movements, and texts; how the body as depicted affects character, potential, action, and thought; the suppression of embodiment in literature

Art: Depictions of the body; dance as communication, expression or artifice; music as movement

Scientific: Evolutionary and counter-evolutionary explanations of behavior, values, and religion; genetic inheritance and genetic engineering; the effect of individual choices and attention on the neural networks

History: Post-human futures/pre-human pasts, conceptions of the body through time, medicine and the body

Anthropology: Cultural divergence on the corporeal, children without marriage/marriage without children

Submission Guidelines

We encourage LDS scholars in all fields of the humanities, arts, and history to propose papers or complete panels in response to the topic. Panel proposals should include a general title, presenters’ names and contact information, and paper abstracts.

Creative submissions relevant to the conference theme in story, verse, drama, or visual form are also invited.

To accomplish its mission of supporting LDS scholars, MSH will, in conjunction with the conference, offer individual mentoring on scholarly research and writing for publication.

Please send 200-word abstracts and brief CV to David Paxman at, by January 10, 2011.



PDF of program available here: 2011Program.pdf

Thursday, March 24

2:00–3:00 p.m. • James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College
Faculty Center Lecture on Desiring the Kingdom
BYU Education in Zion Theater, B 192 JSFB

4:00–5:00 p.m. • James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College
Faculty Seminar discussion of Kierkegaard
BYU 3280 WSC

7:00–9:00 p.m. • Phil Barlow, Leonard Arringon Professor of Mormon History and Culture, Utah State University
UVU Annual Eugene England Mormon Studies Lecture: “To Mend a Fractured Reality: Joseph Smith’s Project”
UVU Library Auditorium

Friday, March 25

8:00 a.m. • Registration
UVU Library, Main Floor

All Day • Exhibition: The Art of Kirk Richards
UVU Library, 3rd floor, Art Wall

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH
• David Gore, University of Minnesota Duluth, “The Voice of the People and the Body Politic in Mosiah 29”
• Graham St. John Stott, Arab American University, Jenin (Palestine), “Talking of Angels; Talking to Angels”

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor) • MSH
• Jonathon Penny, United Emirates University, “Godsbody—Image, Icon, and Word Made Flesh Made Word (in Rudy Wiebe’s A Discovery of Strangers and Paintings by Kirk Richards and Brian Kershisnik)”
• Cherise Bacalski and Shannon Stimpson, Brigham Young University, “Bodily Influence and Accountability: A Burkean Reading of Agency”

10:00–10:50 a.m. • James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College
MSH Keynote: “Religion Is for Bodies: Embodied Ritual in Postmodern Fiction”
Library Auditorium

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH
• Blake Ostler, “An Embodied God before/after/with the Universe”
• Ron Bartholomew, Orem LDS Institute, “The History of the LDS Doctrine of Embodiment in D&C 130:22”

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor) • MSH
• Susan H. Miller, Brigham Young University, “’No Greater Love’: A Personal Recollection”
• Jay Fox, Brigham Young University, “Embodiment and the Semantics of Stigma”

12:00 p.m. • Lunch

1:00–2:05 p.m. • LDS Institute South Chapel • MSH Presentation
• John W. Welch, “Reading a Sealed Book: Humanities Lessons from Two Ancient Roman Bronze Plates” (Followed by a guided viewing of the Roman Plates Exhibit.)

1:00–2:05 p.m. • Library Auditorium • AML
• Graham St. John Stott, “Gates to Magery”
• Brooke Brassard, “Vampire Rules Aren’t Enough For You? You Want to Worry about the Human Ones Too?”

1:00–2:05 p.m. • Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor) • MSH
• Pat Debenham, Brigham Young University, “Somatic Practice as an Inroad to Spiritual Insights”
• Shawn Tucker, Elon University, “Notes on Mormon Laughter”

2:15–3:45 p.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH Panel
“Responses to the Theme of Embodiment in George Handley’s Home Waters
• Adam Miller, chair, Collin College
• Jenny Webb, Independent Scholar
• Christopher Oscarson, Brigham Young University
• George Handley, Brigham Young University

2:15–3:45 p.m. • Library 213 • AML
• Jacob Bender, “A Post-Structural Approach to the Book of Mormon”
• Bruce Jorgensen, “Toward a Hermeneutics of Grace and Charity (Mormon or Not)”

2:15–3:45 p.m. • Library 502 • MSH
• Wyatt Brockbank, Brigham Young University, “Only through the Body Do We Know, Experience, Live: Philosophers, Poets, and Prophets on the Importance of the Body”
• Adam Brasich, Wabash College, “’God is Very Man’: Joseph Smith and Emanuel Swedenborg in Conversation on Embodiment”
• Steve Tensmeyer, Brigham Young University, “LDS Conceptions of Embodiment and Transcendence: Insights from Carnap”

2:15–3:45 p.m. • Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor) • MSH Poetry Reading: Embodiment
• Jonathon Penny
• Scott Hatch
• Susan E. Howe
• Michael Hicks
• Lance Larsen

4:00–5:30 p.m. • Library Auditorium • AML
• Dennis Clark, “Liberating Form and Liberty Jail”
• Kim Heuston, “Eternity Made Manifest: Form and the Art of Coming Home”
• Harlow Clark, “Liberating From”

4:00–5:30 p.m. • Library 213 • MSH
• Jennifer Rytting, Northwest Missouri State University, “Corpus Christi: Medieval Views of Christ’s Body”
• Alan Goff, DeVry University, “Written upon the Heart, Written upon the Body: The Biblical Image and Kafka’s Uses of Literary Embodiment”
• Bruce Jorgensen, Brigham Young University, “The Presentation of the Sexual Incident in Reynolds Price’s A Long and Happy Life

4:00–5:30 p.m. • Library 506 • MSH Panel
“Death, Disguise, and Dehumanization: the Body in Spanish Literature and Art”
• Anna-Lisa Halling, chair, Vanderbilt University, “Violence and Excess: The Body as Locus of Punishment in María de Zayas”
• Emily Tobey, Indiana University, “Dressing, Disguising, and Choosing Our Identities”
• Jared White, University of California Irvine, “Dehumanizing the Spanish Portrait: Progressive Abstraction in Picasso’s Self-Portraits”

4:00–5:30 p.m. • Library 515 • AML
• Helynne Hansen, “Mormonism 101 as LDS Literature Enters the Mainstream: Elna Baker’s The New York Regional Singles’ Mormon Halloween Dance
• Glen Gordon, “Faith-Based Fiction: Bibliotherapy for the Soul?”
• Cameron Scott, “Revelation’s Disruption: The Need for Uncertainty in Jack Harrell’s A Sense of Order and Other Stories and Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Revelation’”

6:00–7:15 p.m. • MSH Conference Dinner
Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor)

7:30–9:00 p.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH Panel
“Can there be Non-Creedal Orthodoxy?: Mormon Engagements with Radical Orthodoxy”
• David Gore, chair, University of Minnesota Duluth
• Robert Couch, Willamette University
• James Faulconer, Brigham Young University
• James K. A. Smith, Calvin College, respondent

Saturday, March 26

8:00 a.m. Registration
UVU Library, Main Floor

8:15–8:50 a.m. • MSH Business Meeting
UVU Library Auditorium

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH
• Robert Couch, Willamette University, and Alan Hurst, Yale University, “Ethics Incarnate”
• Benjamin Huff, Randolph-Macon College, “Spiritual Bodies and the Dynamics of Desire”

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Library 506 • MSH
• Lindsay Adamson Livingston, CUNY Graduate Center, “Recreating the ‘City of Joseph’: Performance, Tourism, and the Embodied Past in Historic Nauvoo, Illinois”
• Tim Hegstrom, San Jose State University, “Miriam Nelke’s Elocutionary Lessons: Embodied Minds and Spirits at the Brigham Young Academy”

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Library 502 • AML
• Matt Hall, “Communicating the Mormon Experience to a Non-Mormon Audience: What Disaffected LDS Writers and Active LDS Housewife Bloggers can Teach Us”
• Nicole Davis, “The Depiction of Female Characters in Clothing Esther, Thanksgiving, and A Time to Dance”

9:00–9:50 a.m. • Library 515 • AML
• Tyler Chadwick, “21st Century Lyric Mormonisms”
• Nancy Chaffin, “‘The Other Women’: Polarity and Articulation”

10:00–10:50 a.m. • Marvin and Sam Payne
AML Keynote: “Form and the Watering of Plants”
UVU Library Auditorium

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Library Auditorium • MSH
• Kirk Richards, “Embodiment and Duality: An Artist’s Perspective on the Physical and the Spiritual in Imagery” (Following the presentation, Mr. Richards will give a guided visit to the Kirk Richards Art Exhibition, Library 3rd floor.)

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Library 506 • MSH
• Steven Mills, Purdue University, “Engaging Our World: Embodied Cognition and Our Human Condition”
• Joseph Ostenson, Brigham Young University, “Word Made Flesh: Marital Sexuality as Embodied Covenant-Making”

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Library 502 • AML
• Josh Allen, “Good Epiphany, Bad Epiphany: Handling Revelation in Mormon Fiction”
• Jack Harrell, “Making Meaning in Mormon Fiction”

11:00–11:50 a.m. • Library 515 • AML
• Phyllis Barber, “The Pros and Cons of Writing Confessional Memoir in the Mormon Context”

12:00–1:50 p.m. • AML Awards, Luncheon, & Presidential Address
Lakeview Room (Library 4th floor)

2:00–3:00 p.m. • Library Auditorium • AML
• Gideon Burton, “Eugene England Online: Liberating Mormon Biography in the Digital Age”

2:00–3:30 p.m. • Library 213 • AML
“Reading from Recent Memoirs”
• George Handley
• Stephen Carter
• Kathy Soper
• Doug Thayer

2:00–3:30 p.m. • Library 502 • MSH
• Samuel Brown, University of Utah, “Decomposition and Material Continuity: the Cultural Work of Early Mormon Materialism”
• Tom Draper and David Allred, Brigham Young University, “And Am I Not an Observer of Embodiment?”
• Jason Grygla, “Water as Mediating Catalyst”

2:00–3:30 p.m. • Library 515 • MSH
• Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria, British Columbia, “Popular Bodies: How Humans, Vampires, and Shape Shifters Represent the Sacred in the Twilight Saga”
• Melissa DeGuire, Brigham Young University, “The Body as Language: The De-Centering of Culture in Eisenstein’s ‘Que Viva Mexico’”
• Wade Hollingshaus, Brigham Young University, “Overdose or Electrocution?: Death and the Body in the Work of Jimi Hendrix”

3:45–5:15 p.m. • Library Auditorium • AML
• John Bennion, Rose Card, Jim Dalrymple, and Evelyn Mather, Documentary Film “The Christian Eye: An Essay Across England”

3:45–5:15 p.m. • Library 213 • AML
• Gerrit van Dyk, “‘Miltons of Our Own’: Form and Convention in the Mormon Epic Poem”
• Toni Pilcher, “Mormon Themes in Contemporary Young Adult Literature”
• Rebecca Hay, “The Book of Mormon 2.0”

3:45–5:15 p.m. • Library 502 • MSH
• Stephen H. Webb, Wabash College, “Heavenly Flesh Christology”
• Joseph Spencer, University of New Mexico, “The Messianic Body in The Book of Mormon”
• David Heap, “Embodiment and Sexual Addiction: The Search for Intimacy in a World of Disconnection”

3:45–5:15 p.m. • Library 515 • MSH
• Todd Mack, Stanford University, “The Physical Engagements of the Literary Scholar”
• David Isaksen, Brigham Young University, “The Body and the Poetic Universe”
• Kirk Caudle, Marylhurst University, “The Discovery of Embodied Knowledge through the Discovery of the Authentic Self: A Guide for Revealing Ultimate Truth”
• Mike McKeon, Rogers State University, OK, “The Theological Significance of Chiaroscuro in Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”

7:00 p.m. • AML Award Winners Reading
Charlotte England’s home



Post at J. Kirk Richard’s Fine Art Blog

Article “Marvin and Sam Payne to Keynote AML Conference” at Deseret News

Conference poster: