CMSSA Student Conference: “What Is Mormon Studies?” — 4-24-2010

On ApriL 23–24, 2010, the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Associate held a conference to explore “What is Mormon Studies? Transdisciplinary Inquiries into an Emerging Field” on the campus of Claremont Graduate University. Jan Shipps, eminent student of Mormonism, delivered the keynote address.

Since new academic chairs recently had been established in Mormon studies and academic conferences, courses, and programs were being widely held, the purpose of the conference was to explore the emerging field of Mormon studies. The conference focused on two significant lines of inquiry. First, Mormonism’s complexities suggest how this religious movement likely would resist categorization. Was Mormon studies a viable new field? Was it even a viable conceptual option for academic examination?

Second, from an academic standpoint, those who studied Mormonism would in large part determine what Mormon studies would become and how it would proceed. What were the various competing visions for what should be studied and advanced under this rubric? What aspects of Mormonism should be considered appropriate or germane to investigation? What aspects should be eliminated from academic inquiry?

The Juvenile Instructor website provided an engaging summary of the conference here and the conference schedule of sessions, speakers, and topics is below.

Conference Schedule

What is Mormon Studies?

Transdisciplinary Inquiries into an Emerging Field

Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association

Friday, April 23

Plenary Lecture

Jan Shipps, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis

Saturday, April 24

9:00 AM

Critical Approaches to Mormon Studies

Loyd Ericson, “Where is the Mormon in Mormon Studies? Subject, Method, Object”

Cheryl L. Bruno, “Mormon History from the Kitchen Window: White is the Field in Essentialist Feminism”

Blair Van Dyke, “How Wide the Divide? The Absence of Conversation between Mormon Studies and Mormon Mainstream”

Christopher C. Smith, “What Hath Oxford to do with Salt Lake?”

1:00 PM

Challenges Facing Mormon Studies

Adam S. Miller, “A Manifesto for Mormon Theology”

Jacob Rennaker, “Through a Glass, Darkly? Biblical Studies, Mormon Studies, Parallels, and Problems”

Greg Kofford, “Publishing Mormon Studies: Inside Looking Out”

4:00 PM

Scholarly Panel

Brian Birch, Utah Valley University

J. Spencer Fluhman, Brigham Young University

Armand L. Mauss, Claremont Graduate University

6:30 PM

Concluding Remarks

Richard Bushman, Claremont Graduate University