MSH 2016: Secularisms
Utah Valley University
April 8-9, 2016

CALL FOR PAPERS

Secularism has been rising repeatedly throughout history. We are all familiar with the various forms and modes of secularism today: a moderate form of secularism appears as the separation of church and state in order to guarantee fair opportunity and treatment for all individuals and groups, while a more aggressive secularism dismisses the claims of religion and the spiritual as unfounded and illegitimate. Such secularisms have had far-reaching influences in modern society as they continue to influence and interact with both the humanities and the religious. As Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, we are interested in exploring the various relations and contours that surface in the overlap between our fields, our faith, and the secularisms we encounter. We encourage those interested in these intersections to submit a proposal for our upcoming annual meeting.

Papers may potentially address the following questions or topics:

What is the relationship between religion and secularism, historically, institutionally, theoretically? Has this relationship undergone significant transformations?

Is secularism a fundamentally Western, Christian religious idea? If so, what does that say about the relationship between religion and secularism?

What are the versions of secularism, how did they originate and develop, and how to they manifest themselves in politics, social relations, and law?

While Western societies tend to accept mild secularism as the fairest and most beneficial way to govern, what alternatives have or can be justified?

Given the increasing assertion of aggressive secularism, how does secularism account for the enduring powers of religion? Given the persistence of religion, how do people of belief account for the growing powers of secularism?

How would we describe the modern social imaginary’s commitment to secularism in contrast to an earlier social imaginary that encourages the sacred? Is secularism a variety of anti-religious religion?

Modern, homogeneous, empty time is a result of the movement toward secular thought. Is such a temporal framework anachronistic when applied to ancient cultures and texts?

What happens when ancient scripture such as the Bible or Book or Mormon are filtered through a modern temporal screen?

What are the alternatives to modern secularism: secular and sacred, ancient and modern? Must we return to the past in order to think our way through modern secularism?

As always, we invite papers on other topics, reflecting your current interests and investigations. MSH is a space that embraces the diversity of interests for Mormon scholars working in the varied fields of the humanities—session proposals keyed around specific research interests and topics are welcomed and encouraged. Proposals for alternative sessions, including performance and display, will also be considered.

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Jonathan VanAntwerpen, program director for theology at the Henry Luce Foundation. Originally trained as a philosopher, he received his doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-editor of a series of books on secularism, religion, and public life, and was the founding director of the Social Science Research Council’s program on religion and the public sphere. In 2007 he worked with others to launch The Immanent Frame, serving for several years as editor-in-chief.

We invite 200-word abstracts for papers, as well as proposals for organized panels. Abstracts and proposals are due January 15, 2016; acceptance notices will be sent out February 1, 2016.

Send all materials to: submissions.msh@gmail.com

Deadline: January 15, 2016.

Mormon Scholars in the Humanities would like to thank the Mormon Studies program at Utah Valley University for their support of the 2016 annual meeting. 

 

PROGRAM

PDF of program is available here: 2016 Program_print.pdf

THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 7:30 PM

DEVOTIONAL by Patrick Madden: “Unapologetically, Unannoyingly Mormon”
Co-sponsored by the Brigham Young University College of Humanities
Education in Zion Theater (B192 JFSB) Brigham Young University

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 9:00–10:30

F1A (CB 101B): SECULARISM: ORIENTATION AND INVITATION
Chair: Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar)
James Faulconer (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Several Sides of Secularism”
George Handley (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “The Felt Life of the Mind: Lessons on the Secular from Marilynne Robinson”

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 10:45–12:15

F2A (CB 101B): A WORLD WITHOUT WORD: HYMNS, POEMS, AND PARABLES BEYOND BELIEF
Panel Organizer: Jonathon Penny
Panelists: Alex Caldiero, Scott Hales, Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen, Steven Peck, and Merrijane Rice
Respondent: Bruce Jorgensen

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 1:45–3:15

F3A (CB 101B): SECULARISM AND THE RELIGIOUS
Chair: Alan Goff (DeVry University)
Ralph Hancock (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Secularism: An Aspect of Christianity, or Its Enemy?”
James Egan (Independent Scholar) • “Hindu Nationalism and Secular Governance: What India’s Debate about Civil Law Means for Secularisms Everywhere”
Nathaniel Givens (Independent Scholar) • “Secularism as Religion”

F3B (CB 308): PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACHES
Chair: James Faulconer (Brigham Young University–Provo)
Adam Miller (Collin College) • “A Radical Mormon Materialism: Reading Wrestling the Angel”
Justin White (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Self-Conception and Self-Deception”
Wade Hollingshaus (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Aesthetics of Zion”

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 3:30–5:00

F4A (CB 101B): LDS WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES IN SECULAR HIGHER EDUCATION
Panel Organizer: Erin Jensen (University of Utah)
Yazmin Elizalde (College of Southern Nevada)
Sherena Huntsman (Utah State University)
Tammie Makely (Arizona State University)

F4B (CB 308): LIVED APPLICATIONS: PEDAGOGY AND RHETORIC
Chair: James Egan (Independent Scholar)
Kirk Caudle (Independent Scholar) • “The Secular Book of Mormon: Reading without God in the 21st Century”
Rebekah Crawford (Ohio University) • “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: A Secular Voice Amidst Believers”
Karen Spencer (Independent Scholar) • “Stewardship and Hierarchy in a Secular Age”
Sheldon Lawrence (Brigham Young University–Idaho) • “The Coddling of the Mormon Mind: Spiritual Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces”

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 6:00–7:30

Conference Banquet, UVU Library, Lakeview Room

SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 8:00–8:45

(CB 101B): Business Meeting

SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 9:00–10:30

S1A (CB 101B): KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Jonathan VanAntwerpen

SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 10:45–12:15

S2A (CB 101B): LITERARY APPROACHES
Chair: David Paxman (Brigham Young University–Provo)
Shawn Tucker (Elon University) • “Humility, Pride, & Fear (with reference to King Lear)”
William Silverman (Southern Virginia University) • “Tasting the Fruit: Literary Foundations for Latter-day Scriptures”
Tyler Gardner (University of Notre Dame) • “Rejecting Religious Categorization on a Cosmic Scale: Marilynne Robinson as Neither Religious nor Secular”

S2B (CB 416): READING SCRIPTURE
Chair: Kim Berkey (Harvard University)
Christopher Blythe (Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Department) • “The Prophetess and Seer at Endor: Reception of 1 Samuel 28 in Nineteenth Century Mormon History”
Erin Kaseda (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Parable as Performance: Theatre, Theology, & Thought”
Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar) • “Ether 12 and the Unfinished Faith”

S2C (CB 406): REVELATION’S RELATIONSHIP WITH SECULARISM
Chair: Brad Kramer (University of Michigan)
Redge Bendheim (Claremont Graduate University) • “Mormons, a Divine Constitution, and Perceptions of Political Participation”
Ben Spackman (Claremont Graduate University) • “Scripture, Science, and Secularism: Questioning Shared Assumptions about Inspiration”
Taylor Kerby (Claremont Graduate University) • “Secularization and Sacred Time: Narrating Mormonism’s Temporal Complexity”

SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 1:45–3:15

S3A (CB 101B): PHILOSOPHY MEETS FICTION: ADAM MILLER AND DAVID
FOSTER WALLACE
Panel Organizer: Blair Hodges (Brigham Young University–Provo)
Dallin Lewis (Gonzaga University)
Steven Peck (Brigham Young University–Provo)
Respondent: Adam Miller (Collin College)

S3B (CB 416): MODERN SECULARISMS
Chair: William Silverman (Southern Virginia University)
Samuel Brown (University of Utah) • “The Burden We Cannot Bear: Humans as Deity in Late Modern Culture”
Brad Kramer (University of Michigan) • “Modern Mormonism and Secularization”
Alan Goff (DeVry University) • “The Modern Social Imaginary (Thought and Unthought), Alternative Social Imaginaries, and Mormon Studies”

SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 3:30–5:00

S4A (CB 101B): SECULARISM’S MULTIPLE POTENTIALITIES
Chair: George Handley (Brigham Young University–Provo)
Jason Kerr (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Secularism and Consent in Richard Baxter’s Political Theology”
Jonathon Penny (University of Lethbridge) • “A Re(lev)ation: Secular Uses of Apocalypse in Literary Modernism”
David Gore (University of Minnesota–Duluth) • “The Sacred and Secular Toggle”

S4B (CB 416): THEOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTATION
Chair: Adam Miller (Collin College)
Joseph Spencer (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “The Age of the Oath’s Eclipse: An Agambenian Reading of Modernity’s Malaise”
Kim Berkey (Harvard University) • “‘A More History Part’: The Sacred/Secular Divide in the Book of Mormon”
Ben Crosby (Iowa State University) • “The King Follett Address as American Gospel: Rhetoric, Mormonism, and The Secular Sublime”

 

PDF of devotional program available here: 2016 Devotional Program_email.pdf

Opening devotional for the Annual Meeting of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, co-sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities.

Welcome: Jenny Webb

Opening Prayer

Musical Number: “Assuming God” (By Mark Mitchell, lyrics by Jonathon Penny)
Vocalist: Emily Pulham
Accompanist: Debbie Robertson

Introduction: Jason Kerr

Devotional: Patrick Madden
“Unapologetically, Unannoyingly Mormon”

Closing Prayer

Light refreshments to follow

 

MINUTES

Mormon Scholars in the Humanities
Annual Business Meeting – April 9, 2016

Report on 2015-16
– The website has been redesigned, thanks to the gracious assistance of Tod Robbins. Go take a look, but be aware that more will be coming (mormonscholars.net).
– We’re working to have a stronger online presence. If you have ideas, we’d like to hear them.
– Financially, we’re in the black.
– MSH has begun to gather money for a graduate student travel fund. There were numerous donations during the conference itself, and we’d love to have more. If you’re interested in making a donation, please let us know.
– We’ve developed a constitution and bylaws. They were formally adopted during the meeting, and they’ll be made available on the website soon.

Future Plans
– It was decided that our 2017 conference should be held in Boston, with the theme of “Wisdom.” A few possible keynote speakers were identified, and a few possible locations in Boston have been determined. A committee has been appointed to pursue these possibilities. If anyone is interested in assisting, we’d love your help.
– It was decided that our 2018 conference should be held at Aspen Grove, with theme of “Humor.”
– A number of matters were discussed in connection with our hopes of fostering community. Shawn Tucker has offered to head up efforts to make available to junior scholars in the organization resources for getting a job in the academy. Plans to get more graduate students involved in the organization were discussed. More active outreach to less represented groups was encouraged. If anyone has assistance they can offer in this regard, please join us.

Nominations and Voting
– The constitution and bylaws were adopted by vote
– Jenny Webb’s term as president will not end for a few years yet. William Silverman’s term as vice-president will end in a year, Brad Kramer’s in two.
– David Paxman remains in his position as treasurer, but the position of secretary-treasurer was divided in two, with Joseph Spencer being appointed as secretary. David and Joseph will work together to ensure a smooth transition of finances (which are housed at BYU).

Thanks to everyone for a great conference. Here’s to more!

 

ARCHIVE

Post “The Coddling of the Mormon Mind: On Spiritual Trigger Warnings and Religious Safe Spaces” at Dawning of a Brighter Day

 

PHOTOS

Conference poster: