Let’s see if we can start a discussion that doesn’t revolve around homosexuality and same sex marriage. (What a sexually obsessed bunch we are!) A while back, one commenter suggested that what we needed in addition to a list of “must read” Mormon studies texts is a list of books that haven’t yet been written but should. In the spirit of that question, let me offer some ideas.
Someone needs to write a really thorough study of the history of Mormon theology. There have been a couple of articles and book chapters on this subject, but nothing that really unifies the story and goes into great detail. For example, there isn’t much attempt to put Mormon theological writing in intellectual context. Yet many of the earliest and most influential statements of Mormon belief were put together in the context of debate and polemics. Who were they debating? What were the big issues?
Someone needs to write a really thorough study of Mormon violence. The recent spat of Mountain Meadows books gets at this issue, but again things tend to be under contextualized. Again, there are a couple of good articles and book chapters, but nothing really thorough.
Someone needs to write a legal history of the church in the twentieth century. This would be more interesting that you might think. You don’t have anything as legally dramatic as the anti-polygamy crusades, but the interaction of the church with non-American legal systems (especially those in dictatorial countries like East Germany) could be quite interesting.
Someone needs to write a good history of Mormon political thought. We need to trace out in detail the theology behind the Council of Fifty, the State of Deseret, the various iterrations of millenial expecation and politics, the political retrenchment, etc.
Someone needs to write a thorough intellectual biography of B.H. Roberts. Who was he reading. Which intellectual debates and currents was he following and which was he ignoring. B.H. Roberts’s corpus of Mormon writing is huge and frequently of high quality. However, we know very little about its context in B.H. Roberts intellectual life.
Blake Ostler is currently working on a philosophical exposition of Mormon theology. Since virtually all of the Mormon philosophers that I know disagree with Blake on some if not most issues, I hope that his work will spark some substantive responses. David Paulsen at BYU is also working on the philosophical exposition of Mormn theology. (His Ph.D. dissertation is worth ordering from UMI. I xeroxed a copy of it while I was in law school — awe the heady days of access to Harvar’s libraries! — and it is a lot of fun). Someone needs to embark on similar projects for Mormon philosophy in the area of political theory and philosophy.
Someone needs to do a modern economic history of 19th century Mormonism, particularlly in Deseret. Arrington’s Great Basin Kingdom is wonderful. It is economic history in the sense that it discusses economic affairs. However, it has no real economic theory. Apologies to Gordon, but it is very Wisconsin-esque economic history. Someone with a background in economic theory needs to look at this stuff again.
That’s a start. What other books or articles need to be written?