MSH 2014: Narrative
Claremont Graduate University
March 27–29, 2014



2014 MSH Call for Papers
Theme: Narrative
Venue: Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California

The 2014 Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference will gather the evening of March 27th through midday on the 29th in Claremont, California; we are grateful the Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont will host the gathering. The conference theme is narrative. Papers don’t have to be about stories. We are interested in what Mormon scholars are doing; we are interested in what non-Mormon scholars are doing that touches on the LDS tradition. The presentations need not be about LDS history, theology, society, or culture. Just tell us something interesting about your current research, and the program committee will try to find a unifying thread for sessions.

Our keynote speaker will be Richard Kearney; his homepage at Boston College can be viewed at the following URL: Dr. Kearney is a philosopher (specializing in the continental tradition) who has also written engagingly, clearly, and with marvelous insight on narrative theory and theology; we look forward to seeing how he will revisit the topic of narrative.

The study of narrative is now interdisciplinary and increasingly important within disciplinary silos. Narrative theory has also over the past few decades has been increasingly imperialistic. Long the domain of literary critics, now narrative’s theorists are claiming that all human understanding is narrative. The following are examples of some central issues regarding narrative in various disciplines.

  1. Legal studies: Stories have a revered place in legal decisions and legal reasoning. In legal arguments the heavy rhetorical lifting is often performed by case studies, examples, or hypothetical situations: stories.
  2. Gender Studies: The expansion of the story of equality is one notable story as women writers marked out a place for themselves. Hawthorne dismissed that mob of scribbling women who became so popular that they squeezed him out the place he thought he deserved on readers’ bookshelves. The emergence of women authors and women readers is a world-historical development in Western literacy. Readings are increasingly viewed as gendered.
  3. Literature: literary criticism is the disciplinary home of narrative theory. Such theorizing has been done there longer and has developed more sophisticated vocabulary and tools than other fields. Abundant opportunities for examination of literary texts (of fictional and nonfictional kinds) exists. Wallace Martin argues that part of the recent paradigm shift in the humanities and social sciences is the return of narrative from marginal status to “inhabit the very center of other disciplines as modes of explanation necessary for an understanding of life.”
  4. History: the boundary between fiction and history has always been problematical, but over the past four decades historiography has increasingly found the boundary difficult to fix. Before the discipline attempted to become scientific, historians recognized that both literature and history were branches of the same tree—rhetoric. In the past few decades a return to the status quo ante has been achieved with a difference.
  5. Philosophy: the epistemological and ethical implications of story are increasingly being studied by philosophers and phenomenologists who ask if narrative is the way that human experience comes packaged. Many philosophers also insist that readers become better people (more empathetic) by reading stories.
  6. Religious Studies: scriptures most commonly come in story form. Biblical critics tussle over whether or not the narrative form undermines the content’s historicity; similar claims are made about Mormon scripture. Narrative theology often asserts that an excess escapes ratiocination, that this abundance can’t be contained by the categories inherited from the Enlightenment.
  7. Social Sciences: narrative theory has increasingly penetrated the social sciences. For social scientists in the positivistic tradition, stories are too subjective, too anecdotal, to be proper evidence. Such narratives aren’t suitable for generalization. Is a statistic just a story trying to shed it particularity? Maynes, Pierce, and Laslett assert that narrative makes distinctive epistemological claims on us because it is individual and personal.

Please send inquiries or presentation proposals to Alan Goff at The deadline for proposals is December 31, 2014 with notification of acceptance within two weeks. Plan for 20 minute presentations in assembling a proposal.



PDF of program available here: 2014 Program.pdf

Thursday, 6:00–7:00 p.m. Opening Banquet (Harper’s Board of Trustees Room)

Thursday, 7:00–9:00 p.m. Welcome and Presidential Address (Albrecht)

Friday, 9:00–9:20 a.m. Orientation and Check in (the hall outside Albrecht)

Friday, 9:30–11:00 a.m. Concurrent Sessions

Pilgrimage, Creation, Silence: Reading Cormac McCarthy (Stauffer 106)
Chair: William Silverman
Bruce Jorgensen, McCarthy: Selected Readings
Jenny Webb, Bloody Horror: Sacrament and Pilgrimage in Cormac McCarthy
Adam Miller, Witness: Silence in Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing

Narrative (Albrecht)
Chair: Jonathon Penny
David Paxman, Feature and Incident: Against Narrative Knowledge
Sheldon Lawrence, From Foreigner to Fellow-Citizen with the Saints: Mormon Conversion Narratives and the Rhetorical Construction of Religious Identity
Maclane Heward, Hawn’s Mill Massacre: A Narrative of Remembrance

Friday, 11:30–1:00 p.m. Lunch

Friday, 1:00–2:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

Mormon Scripture (Stauffer 106)
Chair: Alan Goff
Kirk Caudle, Joseph Smith and King Josiah: Ancient Books of Common History and Influence
Michael Haycock, Every Man According to His Mind: Church(es), State, and Narrating Nephite Decline
Kimberly Berkey, Sign and Temporality in 3 Nephi 1 and Helaman 14

Gender and Sexuality (Albrecht)
Chair: Bruce Jorgensen
Brian Whitney, LDS Women’s Role: Rhetoric in Official Church Discourse
Alexandria Griffin, To Young Men Only: Gender and Homosexuality in Mormonism
Julie Frederick, Conflicting Narratives Concerning Human Sexuality

Mormon Theology and Narrative I (Stauffer 110)
Chair: Ben Peters
Matthew Pitts, A Divergent Path: Reconsidering a Distinctive Mormon Jewish Indian Theory
Jon England, Devil’s Gate: A Mormon Example of Creating Sacred Spaces with Narrative

Friday, 2:45–4:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
Theology and Practice  (Albrecht)
Chair: Adam Miller
Joseph Spencer, Story and the Sexes: On Badiou’s Idea of a “Narrative Function”
William Silverman, Early Modern Literature and the Mormon Narrative: John Milton’s Paradise Regained
David Heap, LDS Home Teaching: Historical Context and Sociological Implications

Politics, Law, and Narrative (Stauffer 106)
Chair: David Gore
Christopher Henrichsen, Modus Vivendi and the Narrative of Polygamy
Richard Crosby, Civil Religion and the Race for National Priest: Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” and Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union”
Cody Shafer, The Smoot Hearings and Mormon Political Influence

Friday, 4:30–6:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

Mere Religion  (Albrecht)
Chair: Brian Hauglid
Matthew Taylor, A New Scripture and the Scriptural Community: A Comparison of the Cases of the Early Mormons and the Early Muslims
Tom Evans, The Mormon Jesus in Mexico
Rebekah Crawford, A Conversation across the Centuries: Sarah Grimke and the Moral Authority of Women

Mormon Theology and Narrative II (Stauffer 106)
Chair: Jenny Webb
Jonathon Penny, Getting the Story Strait and Narrow: Marginalia, Middletext, and the Tao of Institutional Mormonism
Magi Hernandez, Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning: Restoration Narrative in Visual Art, Song, and Film
Nick Frederick, Deconstructing a Mormon Foundation Narrative: Parley Pratt, Joseph Smith, and God

Friday, 6:15–7:30 p.m. Conference Banquet

Saturday, 9:00–11:00 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
Time and Narrative  (Stauffer 106)
Chair: Kirk Caudle
Chase Kirkham, Constructing a Resilient Faith: The Temporal Narrative of William Miller
Bruce Jorgensen, If and But: Representing “Open” Time in Reynolds Price’s A Long and Happy Life
Rachel Hunt, Memory and Narrative
David Gore, Constitutional Narratives and the Jurisdiction of Values

Speculative Grace: A Roundtable on Adam Miller’s Speculative Grace: Bruno Latour and Object Oriented Theology (Albrecht)
Chair: David Paxman
Joseph Spencer
Ben Peters

Saturday, 11:15–12:45 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

Book of Mormon Narrative  (Albrecht)
Chair: Joseph Spencer
Robert Rees, Mormon Midrash: The Reinvention of Narrative
Alan Goff, This and That: Historicity (Biblical and Book of Mormon) and Literary Narrative
Brian Hauglid, Foreshadowing and Sideshadowing Narratives in the Book of Mormon

Autonomy (Stauffer 106)
Chair: Christopher Henrichsen
Justin White, Autonomy and Authenticity as Ideals of Agency
Mark Wrathall, “Agents unto themselves”: Reflections on Autonomy, Authenticity, Morality, and Religious life.
Ben and John Durham Peters, Records as Theotechnics

Saturday, 1:00–2:00 p.m. Lunch

Saturday, 2:00–3:15 p.m. Keynote Address (Albrecht)
Richard Kearney, Narrating the Stranger



Video of Richard Kearney’s keynote address

Post “The Annual Meeting of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities” at Claremont Mormon Studies

Post at Approaching Justice

Article “MSH Conference Summary: Mormon Scholars in the Humanities at CGU” in the Claremont Mormon Studies Newsletter, no. 10 (Spring 2014): 2014-spring-newsletter

Article “Professor Named President of Mormon Scholars Group” at Southern Virginia University



Conference poster: