Mormon Studies

A Critical History


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About the Book

Mormonism arose in early 19th century New York and has fired the imaginations of its devotees, critics, and students ever since. Some intellectuals and academics read Mormonism as the product of economic change wrought by the Erie Canal in the Burned-over District of western New York State and upper north-eastern Ohio. Others read Mormonism as an authoritarian reaction to Jacksonian democracy. Finally, some, including most of those who became Mormons in the early 19th century and most of those who are believing Mormons today, read Mormonism as the intervention of God in human history.

This book engages with Mormon Studies from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century to the end of the 20th century. It covers those who fought over Mormonism’s truth or falsity, on those who tried to understand Mormonism as a religious and sociological phenomenon, and on those who explored the history of Mormonism from a more dispassionate perspective. It concludes with an exploration of the culture war that erupted as Mormon Studies professionalized particularly after the 1960s.

About the Author(s)

Retired professor Ronald Helfrich, Jr., taught history, cultural anthropology and sociology over the course of his academic career. He has had a long interest in social theory, cultural history, the sociology of knowledge, social movements, culture and culture wars. He lives in Albany, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Ronald Helfrich, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8261-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4511-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: When Intellectuals and Academics Do Mormonism 1
One. The Polemics and Apologetics of Mormon “Otherness” 21
Two. Intellectuals, Academics, and Mormon “Otherness” 36
Three. The “Old” Mormon Studies 51
Four. The “New” Mormon Studies 61
Five. Social Theory, Social Movements, and Mormon Origins 74
Six. Culture Theory and Mormon Origins 92
Seven. Mormon Studies and Its DisTable of Contents
: The “New” Mormon Culture War 127
Conclusion: Whither Mormon Studies? 146
Chapter Notes 149
Bibliography 199
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

“A wealth of valuable information and insight.”—BYU Studies Quarterly