The Mormon Arts Center in collaboration with the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, is sponsoring a Conference on Teaching Mormon Arts. It is a day for discussion for artists, teachers, scholars, and administrators, with particular attention to literature, music, theater and film, visual arts, and dance. The focus is on teaching in colleges and universities but the same principles apply to teaching at any level. The conference will be held at the Fort Douglas Officers Club, 150 Fort Douglas Boulevard, Salt Lake City, January 20, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be no charge for conference attendance. Lunch will be provided for registrants. Go to the Mormon Arts Center website to register.
Founded in 1976, the Association for Mormon Letters is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote a rich tradition of creative writing “by, for, and about Mormons.” Each year AML holds an annual conference and awards ceremony to encourage scholarship in Mormon arts, literature, and culture and recognize excellence in the work of Mormon writers and scholars.
While smaller than other Mormon scholarly associations, AML fills a unique niche in Mormon studies with its attention to Mormonism’s long and often rich literary and artistic tradition. No other Mormon scholarly organization is as committed to fostering Mormon literary criticism and academic inquiry into Mormon literary arts. Without the Association for Mormon Letters, the work of many Mormon creative writers would go unrecognized, uninvestigated, and unrewarded.
Operating costs for the Association for Mormon Letters are typically low, but the organization currently has no formal practice for collecting membership dues or fundraising. To continue its support of Mormon letters, AML requires donations to maintain its website and blog and fund its annual conference and awards ceremony.
The conference will open in Provo with a keynote address at Writ & Vision from writer Phyllis Barber, the recipient of the 2016 Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for outstanding achievement in Mormon Letters. The conference will then reconvene the next morning at Utah Valley University for a day of scholarly presentations, panel discussions, and literary readings. The winners of the AML Awards will also be announced at a special ceremony at 12:45 pm MST. Among those honored will be two lifetime achievement awards. Orson Scott Card will be presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Susan Elizabeth Howe will be presented with the Association for Mormon Letters Lifetime Achievement Award.
The conference and awards ceremony are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!
Association for Mormon Letters Conference
April 21-22, 2017
Utah Valley University
|Friday 4/21||Writ & Vision-274 W Center St., Provo, UT|
Phyllis Barber, “Reconciling Art with History”
|Saturday 4/22||Utah Valley University-Orem, UT|
Room: CB 101A (Classroom Building)
“Mormon Historical Drama”
Moderator: James Goldberg
Room: CB 113
|Sarah Reed, “Postmemory and the Lost Generation: Midcentury Mormon Novels”
Jed Woodworth, “When MIA Fought Atheism through Poetry: Orson F. Whitney’s Love and the Light”
Joseph Soderborg, “Robert Louis Stevenson: Mormons, Missionaries, and Friends in Utah and the South Pacific”
Room: CB 114
|11:30 AM-12:30 PM||Lunch|
|AML Awards Ceremony
Room: CB 101A
|Harlow Clark, “The Philosophy of Consolation: A Dialogue Between Boethius and Joseph Smith”
Sherilyn Olsen, “From Active to Activist Mormon: How Writing About My Family’s Adoption Experiences Converted Me to Race Issue Advocacy”
Marilyn Brown, “Raiders, Readers, and Writers of the Last Art: Tackling Historical Fiction”
Room: CB 113
“The Work of Orson Scott Card”
Eric James Stone
J. Scott Bronson
Moderator: Andrew Hall
Room: CB 114
“The Work of Susan Elizabeth Howe”
Moderator: Bert Fuller
Room: CB 113
|Julie Nichols, Fiction Reading
Steven L. Peck, Fiction Reading
James Goldberg, Poetry Reading
Room: CB 114
|Chris Smith, “Prosperity in the Book of Mormon”
Jordan Shumway, “Abish: A Female Figure of Christ”
Kylie Nielson Turley, “Alma2’s Hell: Ammonihah and a Lake of Fire and Brimstone”
Room: CB 113
|Laura Harris Hales, “Title: Creating Safe Literary Space in the 21st Century Mormon Community”
Bert Fuller, “Mormon Poetry in Review: Some Notes on the Last Five Years.”
Sheldon Lawrence, “Mormon Conversion Narratives and the Construction of Certainty”
Room: CB 114
Campus Map and Parking
On Saturday, the conference will be held in the Classroom Building on the northwest end of campus, right next to the Fulton Library on College Drive. On campus maps, the building is marked CB.
When you arrive, please register in room 101A. All sessions will take place either in room 113 or 114. These rooms are right inside the southwest entrance of the building, right next to parking lot L4.
Writ & Vision Map and Parking
On Friday evening, the conference will open at Writ & Vision in Provo with our keynote address from Phyllis Barber. The address is 274 West Center Street, Provo, UT 84601.
Parking is available along Center Street.
Restaurants near UVU
After the conference there will be an informal reception and reading for award winners and conference attendees at the home of James and Nicole Goldberg in American Fork.
Writing the Past:
Intersections of Literature and History in Mormon Letters
Utah Valley University
April 22, 2017
Mormons have long made recording and preserving their history a priority. On the day Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in 1830, he revealed that “there shall be a record kept” in the new church. Almost a year later, John Whitmer became the first person tasked with “writ[ing] and keep[ing] a regular history” of the Mormon people. Since then, Mormons have sought to preserve not only their institutional history, but their cultural and personal histories as well.
Mormon creative writers have likewise sought to engage the Mormon past. Among the earliest works of Mormon fiction, poetry, and drama were texts that retold and memorialized the epic story of the Mormon pioneers and their efforts to establish a foothold in the Intermountain West. In subsequent years, Mormon writers have continued to show interest in their history, producing texts that explore the history of the Latter-day Saint experience across the globe.
These works, while grounded in the events of the past, often offer insight into the present as well, creating multi-layered texts that give insight not only into Mormon understandings of history and memory, but also into the historical moment of the text itself.
For the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters Conference, we invite proposals for papers, panels, and readings that explore the intersections of literature and history in Mormon letters. We will also consider proposals on other subjects that fall within the boundaries of Mormon Letters.
Send proposals to email@example.com by 1 February 2017. Proposals should be no more than 300 words and include the title of the presentation as well as audio-visual needs.
I think everyone can agree that while the conversation here continues to be enjoyable, our numbers are fewer than we’d like. I’m therefore pleased to announce several new (and in one case returning) contributors to the AML blog! These include:
- Michael Austin, a longtime Mormon literary scholar whose posts on how various critical approaches could be applied to Mormon literature were one of the high points of the AML-List shortly after I joined in the 1990s
- Sarah Dunster, a published poet and novelist
- Sheldon Lawrence of BYU – Idaho, the new AML president
- Shelah Miner, whose student papers from the class she teaches on Mormon literature have been featured here from time to time
- Eric Samuelsen, noted Mormon playwright, teacher, and reviewer, back after a hiatus
I am also going to be taking a monthly slot covering the Mormon sf&f beat, in addition to serving as blog moderator.
Please let me know any additional suggestions you may have, either for regular or guest contributors. I can be contacted either by responding to this post or by emailing jonathan AT langfordwriter DOT com.
And a warm welcome to all!
The Association for Mormon Letters is calling for papers relating to the connections between speculative fiction and Mormonism, to be delivered at Life, the Universe and Everything 2017, to be held February 16-18 in Provo, Utah.
Presentations can be shorter (10-15 minutes) or longer (20-25 minutes), and can address any area of intersection between speculative fiction and Mormonism, including any of the following:
- Works by LDS authors of speculative fiction
- Depictions of Mormons and Mormonism in speculative fiction
- History of the Mormon speculative fiction community
- Thematic and cultural affinities, connections, and tensions between Mormonism and speculative fiction as ways of viewing human life and the universe in general
Student papers are welcome.
Proposals are due by August 31, and complete papers are due by October 1. Papers can be submitted without previously submitting a proposal, but we prefer the advance notice. Papers will be considered for publication in Deep Thoughts, the proceedings volume for LTUE.
In addition to submitted papers, there will be a panel on the appeal of science fiction and fantasy for Mormons. Please let us know if you would be interested in being on that panel.
Queries, proposals, and papers should be sent to Jonathan Langford, email jonathan AT langfordwriter DOT com.
My colleagues Daniel Stout and Chiung Chen, two professors here at BYU-Hawaii, are hosting this symposium in November. Below is the Call for Papers. If you need an excuse to get to Hawaii and couldn’t make it to AML in March, this could be your chance. Looks to be engaging and relevant.
2016 MORMON MEDIA STUDIES SYMPOSIUM
CALL FOR PAPERS, PANELS, AND PRESENTATIONS
Theme: Mormonism and Global Media
Conference site: BYU Hawai‘i campus in Lā‘ie, Hawai‘i
Conference date: November 3 & 4, 2016
Proposal submissions due July 1, 2016 (early submission strongly encouraged)
Symposium website: http://mormonmediastudies.weebly.com/
Sponsored by Department of International Cultural Studies and the College of Language, Culture and Arts, BYU Hawai‘i
Mormonism grows in a world with a variety of religion-society and religion-media relationships. Its historical, cultural, social, and political insertions into host countries may differ significantly from place to place. Thus Mormonism’s treatment by the media, its attempts to publicize itself through the media, and its members’ use of media technologies in religiously relevant ways—to name a few types of relationships with the media—may differ significantly from U.S. Mormon-media patterns. A conference on Mormonism and media surveys the current situation, raises new questions, and encourages new conversations about a globally growing religion and the part media play in particular cultures.
Submission of Paper and Panel Proposals
Academics, professionals, and students are invited to submit competitive papers or panel proposals about any aspect of Mormons and the media. Papers and panels may be broadly interdisciplinary; international perspectives are strongly encouraged; all rigorous scholarly methodological frameworks and theories are welcome. Submissions should be either full papers (preferred; approx. 6,000–8,000 words, with 100-word abstract) or extended abstracts (approx. 500 words). Proposals for audio and/or visual presentations (including short films) with rigorous analysis are welcome. Papers recently presented or published elsewhere may be considered (please provide details).
Examples of topics include but are not limited to:
- Analyses of media content by or about Mormons (textual, rhetorical, thematic, etc.) in various cultures
- Mormon-produced media (contemporary, historical, international, etc.): Internet, social media, newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, film, etc.
- Content, producers, and effects of recent and historical depictions of Mormons in news and popular culture
- Mormons, media & politics, U.S. and international
- Mormon media uses and effects, including social media
- Mormon media images and depictions (contemporary & historical)
- Concepts of voice, identity, and community in media by or about Mormons
- Content and effects of LDS public relations, advertising, messaging
- Audience studies: meaning-making, effects, responses, influences, behavior and attitudinal changes
- Institutional LDS perspectives on media: responses and effects
- Mormons as media creators, producers, publishers, inventors, disseminators, editors, writers, etc.; or others in these categories who have produced LDS-related media or content
- Mormon-related film, TV programming, reality show participation, etc.
- Comparative studies (Mormons and media as compared to other religions or institutions)
- Historical, sociological, literary, rhetorical, legal, international, psychological, etc. perspectives on Mormons and media
- Mormon-related entertainment, theater, music, and popular culture productions
Papers presented at the symposium will be given special consideration, at authors’ discretion, for publication in the Journal of Media and Religion.
Paper, panel, and presentation proposals must be submitted by July 1, 2016 in Word or PDF format as an email attachment to Dr. Chiung Hwang Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Daniel Stout at email@example.com. Early submission and registration are strongly encouraged. For more information, please visit the symposium website at http://mormonmediastudies.weebly.com/
Once upon a time, back in the good old days, there was an AML review archive stretching back at least 20 years, with hundreds of reviews posted by wise and erudite AML members and associates about myriads of books.
And then one day a virus or software update or something came along and devastated the landscape, and the AML review archive was no more. And it was very sad.
Text of the original reviews was rescued, more or less, and now exists in a very messed-up spreadsheet. As time and opportunity allows, AML webmaster (webmistress?) Elizabeth Beeton has been working on abstracting them, one at a time. It takes about a half-hour per review to get them straightened out, which considering how many there are and how relatively low a priority this is (and the untold amounts of money that Elizabeth is NOT being paid to do all of this), means that the pace is understandably slow.
But! If you are an author of one or more old AML reviews, and you still have a copy of them (in electronic form), you can skip all that hassle and send your old reviews to Elizabeth directly, and she will post them in the new archive! Which, I gather, takes much less time than reformatting the text from the old spreadsheet. In this way you help to restore a beloved AML asset, and get your old reviews back in circulation where they will help make you rich and famous! Or something.
To send backup copies of your old reviews, email to ebeeton at kc dot rr dot com.
The Mormon Lit Blitz recently put out its Call for Entries for its fifth annual competition. Katherine Cowley is a writer, mother of three, and a guest editor for the competition. She compares her experience aurora hunting to reading Mormon literature.
You’ve probably heard of storm chasers—people who go out and chase tornadoes, partly to learn about them, and partly for the thrill. I’ve never gone storm chasing, but I have gone aurora hunting.
The AML Conference at BYU Hawaii last weekend was a wonderful experience. There appeared to be nearly 100 attendees, including a healthy number of people from both the islands and “overseas”. A number of high quality papers were presented, and the keynote speeches, from BYU Hawaii President John Tanner (how great to have such a literary-minded university president!) and Terryl and Fiona Givens were inspirational. We were thrilled to present the AML Awards, and honor the careers of Phyllis Barber and Don Marshall. The film presentations of Freetown and The National Parks music video were wonderful ways to cap off the evenings. BYU Hawaii was very generous as a host, providing rooms and tech support, paying for the Givens’ travel costs, and providing meals that went far beyond the $50 registration fee. We should defiantly have our meeting in Hawaii again soon in the coming years.
An ad hoc planning committee, made up of Joe Plicka, Trevor Alvord, Scott Hales, Andrew Hall, Sheldon Lawrence, and Margaret Blair Young, met for a business meeting on Saturday, and discussed the next steps for the organization. Here are some points we discussed. Nothing is set yet, but we want to get a conversation started.
1. We would like to have the next major AML conference in the Rexburg area. We were impressed by the participation of BYU-Idaho people this weekend, and would like to do more to link together the various communities. There are some good possibilities of facilities we could use. Having it away from the Wasatch Front was seen by some as a good idea, since there are so many writer/literary events on the Wasatch Front already. Having a writer’s conference as part of the event was also discussed. Continue Reading →