A Summer with Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman

December 11, 2006 | 16 comments
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FYI

SUMMER SEMINAR ON JOSEPH SMITH

Mormon Thinkers, 1890 to 1930
Brigham Young University
July 2-August 10, 2007

In the summer of 2007, Brigham Young University will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and advanced undergraduates on the theme of AMormon Thinkers, 1890 to 1930.@ The seminar will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, from July 2 to August 10. Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3000 plus a housing subsidy if needed. The seminar continues the series of seminars on Joseph Smith begun in the summer of 1997.

The seminar will be conducted by Richard Bushman, Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University and Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond.

The aim of the seminar will be to investigate the thought of the major Mormon thinkers of this period: B. H.Roberts, James E. Talmage, John A. Widtsoe, and Charles Penrose. We will ask what they contributed to the thought inherited from Joseph Smith and the nineteenth-century Church, and how did they react to the cultural turmoil of the early twentieth century. This period saw the spread of Mormonism beyond the Great Basin to the West Coast and other regions of the country. It also marked the beginning of Mormon assimilation into American life. How did Mormon thinkers respond to these changes? Each participant will be asked to prepare a paper for presentation in a public symposium in the final week.

Applications are welcomed from students of history, literature, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, philosophy and other humanistic and social scientific fields. Preference will be given to those with knowledge of Latter-day Saint history and experience in analyzing texts. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students at any level of preparation are eligible.

Applications should be submitted by February 15, 2007. Notifications will be sent by March 15, 2007. For application materials, write to the Neal A. Maxwell Institute by surface or email.

Summer Seminar on Joseph Smith
200 WAIH
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602
email: michael_newell@byu.edu phone: (801) 422 9229 fax: (801) 422 0040

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16 Responses to A Summer with Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman

  1. Guy Murray on December 11, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Pretty impressive. Do they publish this stuff somewhere, or post podcasts once the seminars are over, or blog, or something that would allow this material to trickle down to the common folk?

  2. Costanza on December 11, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    They publish the papers and I think that some of the past seminar collections are available from the BYU Bookstore website.

  3. Ardis Parshall on December 11, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    The public was also invited to hear papers read at the end of this year’s seminar — which, according to all reports, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for participants.

    At least one of this year’s international participants had some initial problems with the stipend he was counting on for living expenses and the requirements of the IRS. Anyone applying from abroad will want to contact the seminar office to discuss that very early on, so that there are no nasty last minute surprises.

  4. Costanza on December 11, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    The papers are usually pretty good. The presentations are about on the level of a good graduate student conference at a top university.

  5. Ivan Wolfe on December 11, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    That sounds really cool.

    It’s a bit out of my subject area, but now I’m trying to figure out if I can spin it the right way in order to get into this….

  6. Kristine Haglund Harris on December 11, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Ivan, it was WAAAAAAY out of my subject area when I did it–you should apply and see what happens.

  7. Dan Richards on December 11, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    What is the WAIH? I thought I knew all the buildings that had been built at BYU since I left Provo, but that one leaves me stumped.

  8. Jim F. on December 11, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    Dan, it is the Waite House, where the Maxwell Institute is, just south of the eastern edge of campus, to the west of the old Health Center.

  9. Ivan Wolfe on December 12, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    If I do get accepted into this (I’ve decided I’m going to apply anyway, because of KHH’s comment) does this mean I’ll have to shave? Or can I get a beard card for the seminar?

  10. Brad Kramer on December 13, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Ivan,
    You don’t need a beard card. When I participated this past summer I was given a BYU student ID so that I could check out library materials. They took my ID photo with about 5-days growth. The experience itself was amazing beyond description. Nine total fellows plus profs Bushman and Givens — I’d have never believed you if you told me that I could so thoroughly enjoy spending six weeks surrounded by 10 people all smarter than me. I have no doubt that 15 years from now we will speak of several of the participants with the same academic reverence that follows names like Bushman, Givens, Mauss, et al. (I believe Kathleen Flake participated in the first such seminar like a decade ago). The conference was indeed an unbelievable experience–with paper topics ranging from 19th-century Mormon ambivalence toward the designation of “Christian” to B. Young’s ambivalence toward the designation of “Prophet” to the development of a uniquely Mormon musical and artistic aesthetic under the influence of John Tulledge to the development of fast meeting and a performative model for testimony bearing. The paper on the 19th-century Mormon vision of the Spirit World practically blew the doors off the place. At some point, the papers will be published (though I don’t think any of us know yet exactly when or in what venue).

    I’m rambling. But no one should pass up this opportunity–least of all for lack of disciplinary “fit.” Of the nine students last summer I was one of just two with formal academic training in history. We had 2 div students, one law student, one who studied religious iconography and material culture, one studying musical composition, one who studied micro-engineering, and one studying psychology and comparative religion.

  11. Ben H on December 13, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    At least one of the papers from this past summer’s final symposium was snapped up on the spot by BYU Studies. Others will be published elsewhere. But if you can attend the symposium, it is well worth going. We will try to publicize it more widely in 2007.

  12. Steph H. on December 14, 2006 at 10:00 am

    I saw two of the speakers during my breaks this year, I do not know about the rest of them, but the two i heard were really good. The first one was on the music of mormonism, which I thought was very good, new information that I had not known before. The second was by a British man, who spoke about the concept of the gathering and zion and how it evolved and changed over the years. I was particularly impressed with this, and the research of both. Is there anyway to get copies of theirs and the others’ presentations?

  13. B Bowen on December 14, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Like Kristine Haglund Harris, I participated in the earlier incarnation of this program and was very much out of my areas of expertise. It was an exceptional, rewarding experience.

  14. richard S on December 17, 2006 at 1:11 am

    These have been useful seminars for many but they are limited in 2 crucial ways . First they do not encourage thinking outside the box in crucial ways . None of the thinkers who will be studied this summer was an outside the box thinker. Second, especially they do nothing to advance the thinking about mormon theology and its crucial issues : e.g. if god is embodied and started on a world then he cannot be the creator of the cosmos, if future tensed propositions can be known by God as true or false then we have no freedom, and a 1000 other crucial issues. Why is this seminar so historical and social science oriented

  15. Brad Kramer on December 17, 2006 at 3:07 am

    Richard,
    Because the scholars who run it are not trained philosophers or systematic theologians. Those are important questions, but ones better engaged in a seminar under Jim Faulconer and Blake Ostler.

  16. Ivan Wolfe on February 19, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    I got my application in by the 15th, but the website says the deadline has been extended to the 28th of Feb. So there’s still time for anyone else out there to apply!