MSH 2012: Economies and Humanities
Southern Virginia University
May 18–19, 2012


Conference Theme: Economies and Humanities
Conference Date: May 18–19, 2012
Proposal Deadline: February 15, 2012

Human beings have material needs. We claim, use, and trade the physical resources of earth and seas. We produce goods and services that we use or, not being self-sufficient, exchange. To the ancient Greeks, the consumer—the “we”—was a household. (The term “economy” derives from the Greek οἴκονομία, meaning management of household labor and material resources.) Today the household remains the unit responsible for consumption decisions, and its internal roles adapt to external demands for members’ labor.

We also have spiritual needs. God’s “economy concerning this earth” (D&C 77:6) has included a “household of faith” (Gal. 6:10) in which members “were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift” (4 Ne. 1:3). God satisfies our spiritual needs as we participate with faith in His economy of salvation. Poets, philosophers, historians, and artists have reflected upon material and spiritual economies. This conference invites humanities scholars to address the following and related questions:

1. What material economies are most beneficial to human well-being? What is human well-being? What role does material prosperity have in it?

2. What economic systems or practices are harmful to human beings? Are there limits to what should be exchanged for goods or services in a market? If so, what justifies these limits?

3. Which economic systems most support the creation and sustaining of families? How do economic arrangements impact the roles of parent, child, spouse, husband, wife, brother, sister, etc.?

4. Which economic arrangements are most conducive to creating a “household of faith” among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are some economic systems harmful to that household?

5. What is God’s “economy concerning this earth”? Does the divine economy have any implications for human behavior in worldly economies?

6. What do the humanities teach us about the nature and value of work, thrift, waste, generosity, greed, trade, employment, exploitation, money, wealth, poverty, or luxury?

7. What do the humanities teach us about the benefits and hazards of high tech economies? What about the benefits or limitations of farm-based economies, historical or contemporary?

8. How are the humanities themselves impacted by economic arrangements and vicissitudes?

Conference Location Submission Guidelines

The 2012 conference will be held at Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia. Registration fee: $75, incl. five meals. On-campus housing: $30 per night. Shuttle available to/from Roanoke airport. Register online at We encourage LDS scholars in all fields of the humanities, arts, and history to propose papers or complete panels on the theme. Creative submissions on the theme in story, verse, drama, or visual form are also invited. Submit your proposal, including a 200-word abstract, through the on-line form at

Submission deadline: February 15, 2012.

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. Send requests to



PDF of program available here: MSH2012Program

Friday, May 18

8:30 a.m., Breakfast in the Dining Hall

9:30 a.m., Welcome by Richard G. Whitehead, Acting President of Southern Virginia University, and John M. Armstrong, President of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities (Main Hall Ballroom)

10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Plenary Session

SESSION A: Work & Play (Ballroom)
Chair: Terryl Givens (University of Richmond)
Madison Sowell (Southern Virginia University), “Primo Levi and the (Im)morality of Work”
David Grandy (Brigham Young University), “The Economy of Play: A Peekaboo Universe”
Brittany Chapman (LDS Church History Department), “‘No Greater Joy We Ask’: Ruth May Fox and Mormon Ideals of Industry”

12:00 p.m., Lunch in the Dining Hall

1:30–3:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

SESSION B: Neighborliness & Scarcity (Hilltop)
Chair: Jeremiah John (Southern Virginia University)
Alan Goff (DeVry University—Phoenix), “Economies of Grace: Scarcity in the Bible and the Book of Mormon”
Charles Baclawski (Arkansas State University), “The Economy of Neighborliness and Mormonism”
Kirk Caudle (Marylhurst University), “Paul, the Household, and Finding a Sense of Community in 1 Thessalonians”

SESSION C: Materialism & Seeing (Stonemetz)
Chair: David Paxman (Brigham Young University)
Jacob Baker (Claremont Graduate University), “‘Madness in Vision’: Knowing as Seeing in Mormonism and the
William Silverman (Southern Virginia University), “‘Nurse and Feeder of the Other Four’: Taste and the Economy
of the Senses in Early Modern England”
Adam Miller (Collin College), “Every Truth Is a Work, Every Object Is a Covenant”

4:00–6:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

SESSION D: Capitalism & Morality (Hilltop)
Chair: Nathan Oman (College of William and Mary)
Kary Smout (Washington and Lee University), “If You Count It, You Kill It: The Dangers of Numerical Abstraction”
David Gore (University of Minnesota—Duluth), “God and Religion in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments”
Michael Kelly (Brigham Young University), “Foundational Principles of Material and Spiritual Economies in Dostoevsky’s Art and Thought”

SESSION E: Gender, Housework, & Myth (Stonemetz)
Chair: George Handley (Brigham Young University)
Kristine Haglund (Independent Scholar), “Making Home: Material and Mythic Constructions of Housewifery in the Latter-day Saint Young Women’s Curriculum”
Carl Cranney (The Catholic University of America), “Housework as Sacrament: Initial Thoughts on Providing for Our Own Households of Faith”
Ned Williams and Scott Hyde (Brigham Young University—Hawaii), “Myth, Gender, and Culture in the Classroom of LDS International Students”

6:15 p.m., Dinner in the Ballroom

7:30 p.m., Keynote Address, Darrick Hamilton (The New School), “Data, Discourse, and Colorism” (Ballroom)

Saturday, May 19

9:00 a.m., Breakfast and Business Meeting, Dining Hall

10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

SESSION F: Humanities & Liberal Education (Stonemetz)
Chair: Kelly Sorensen (Ursinus College)
Kathryn Soper (Independent Scholar), “On Literary Leadership and the Business of Humanity”
Benjamin Huff (Randolph-Macon College), “Liberal Education and American Decline: Prospects for Reversal”
David Isaksen (Brigham Young University), “Catch the Vision!: The Unique Position of the Humanities in an Information Economy”

SESSION G: Film & Community (Ballroom)
Chair: Kary Smout (Washington and Lee University)
Joseph Spencer (University of New Mexico), “Mormons, Films, Scriptures”
Matthew Bowman (Hampden-Sydney College), “Fumbling Toward Zion: The Book of Mormon Movie and the Art of Scriptural Narrative”
Rachael Givens (Independent Scholar), “The Household of Faith and the Problem of Culture”

SESSION H: Scripture, Romney, & Literature (Hilltop)
Chair: Sandra Kirk-Rodgers (Southern Virginia University)
Randall Cluff (Southern Virginia University), “The Inspired Economy of the Articles of Faith”
Ben Crosby (Iowa State University), “All Apology: The Undiscovered Political Economy of Mormon Narrative”
Peter Eubanks (James Madison University), “Defending the Study of Literature in Hard Economic Times: A Latterday Saint Perspective”

12:00 p.m., Lunch in the Dining Hall

1:00–3:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

SESSION I: Humanity & Economy (Ballroom)
Chair: Alan Goff (DeVry University—Phoenix)
James Faulconer (Brigham Young University), “Religion and the Economy of Technology”
David Paxman (Brigham Young University, Emeritus), “Between a Rock and a Soft Place: Materialist Literary Criticism”
Jonathon Penny (United Arab Emirates University), “What Price Poetry? Ethics, Aesthesis, and Anesthesia at the Intersection of Literature and Belief”

SESSION J: Individualism & Zion (Stonemetz)
Chair: David Gore (University of Minnesota—Duluth)
Jesse Houchens (Ohio University), “Faith and Rational Decisions”
Robert Couch (Willamette University) and Alan Hurst (Independent Scholar), “The Atomic Family: Mormonism’s Response to Market Individualism”
Nathaniel Givens (Independent Scholar), “ATMs in Zion? Economics and Ethics in an Enoch Society”

3:30–5:45 p.m. Plenary Session

SESSION K: Nature & Significance (Ballroom)
Chair: John Armstrong (Southern Virginia University)
Meet the Artist: Doug Himes (Southern Virginia University)
George Handley (Brigham Young University), “The Economy of the Creation”
Kaila Brown (Duke University), “‘Depths of the Sea’: The Unique Place for Thinking ‘Bodies of Water’ and Mormonism”
Bruce Jorgensen (Brigham Young University), “‘An Immense View of the Sea’ in Gina Berriault’s ‘The Cove’”

6:00 p.m., Dinner on your own in Buena Vista or Lexington



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