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



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 McMurrayPlease 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


8:30–9:00      Registration (CAS B20)

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 (CAS B20)
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 (CAS B20)
Sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Chair: James Egan (Independent Scholar)
“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 (CAS B25B)
Chair: Adam Miller (Collin College)
“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 (CAS B20)
Sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities
Chair: Shawn Tucker (Elon University)
“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? (CAS B25B)
Chair: Sarah Moore (Independent Scholar)
“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 (18th floor, 10 Buick Street)

“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)



8:00–9:15      Business Meeting (CAS B20)

9:15–9:30      Break

9:30–10:00    Poetry Reading (CAS B20): “Wisdom for the Dead and Dying” • Jonathon Penny (Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai), Chair: Robert Couch (Earlham College)

10:00–10:15  Break

10:15–12:00   Concurrent Sessions

A. Modes of Wisdom (CAS B20)
Chair: David Paxman (Brigham Young University)
“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 (CAS B25B)
Sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities
Chair: Bruce Jorgensen (Brigham Young University)
“Decomposing Flesh and the Wisdom of Bodies” • Sarah Moore (Independent Scholar)
“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 (CAS B20)
Sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Chair: Joseph Spencer (Brigham Young University)
“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 (CAS B25B)
Chair: Rosalynde Welch (Independent Scholar)
“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 (CAS B20)
Chair: George Handley (Brigham Young University)
“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)






Mormon Scholars in the Humanities
Annual Business Meeting
8:00-9:15 am, May 26, 2017
CAS B20, Boston University

I. Report on 2016–2017

  1. Archive updated on website
  2. Sections: Literature, Philosophy/Theology, Music (decided to establish a Literature section and a Philosophy/Theology section for now, with positions to be filled by the president)
  3. Membership list (consolidated; maintained by secretary)
  4. Finances
  5. Report from Treasurer
  6. Fundraising efforts
  7. Long-term goals

II. Future Plans

  1. 2018 conference
  2. Humor
  3. Aspen Grove / Provo
  4. 2019 conference
  5. Possible themes: undecided
  6. Location: not Utah; time for either West coast or international option

III. Nominations and Voting

  1. Executive Committee vacancies
  2. Vice President (elected: Jonathon Penny)
  3. Secretary (elected: Shawn Tucker)

IV. Closing Business


Conference Poster


PDF available here: 2017 MSH Program FINAL.