2020 Mormon Studies Conference


Conference Description

This year marks the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. This commemoration provides an opportunity to reflect on how the religious past is remembered, enacted, and reinforced in the life of a religious community. Whether through family histories and genealogies, markers and monuments, historical reenactments, or historic sites, remembering and celebrating the past is central to Latter-day Saint life, individually and collectively. But how we remember the past is always subjective, always at the service of present needs, and forever filtered through a lens of contemporary concerns. Indeed, how we remember the past—and what we choose to forget about the past—is worthy of inquiry. This conference seeks to explore issues surrounding remembering and forgetting the Mormon past, how history is marshaled to meet demands of the historical moment, how theology is transformed through a process of forgetting, and how the past is shaped and packaged for new generations.

Presenter Bios


event canceled due to public health considerations

Thursday, March 26th 

Making History

8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

“Burying and Unearthing Memory
of the Massacre at Mountain Meadows”

Barbara Jones Brown
Executive Director, Mormon History Association
co-author of Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Vol. II  

"Memory and Time:
Joseph F. Smith as a Case Study in Ricoeur's Religious Narrative Theory"

Stephen Taysom
Associate Professor of Comparative Religion, Cleveland State University
author of Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries

Eugene England Lecture

10:00 - 11:15 a.m.

"Nauvoo Memories, Nauvoo Secrets:
Reflections on Writing A House Full of Females”

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
300th Anniversary University Professor Emerita, Harvard University
Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Midwife's TaleWell-Behaved Women Rarely Make History 
and A House Full of Women: Mormon Diaries, 1830-1870 

Panel Discussion

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. 

Barbara Jones Brown, Stephen Taysom, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
pizza will be served

Memorials, Monuments & Museums

1:00 - 2:15 p.m.

"Winter's Helpless Victims:
Suffering and Sanctification at Wyoming Historic Sites"

Sara Patterson
Professor of Theological Studies, Hanover College
author of Pioneers in the Attic: Place and Memory Along the Mormon Trail 

"Mormons, Memory, and the Mexican War"

Michael Van Wagenen
Associate Professor of History, Georgia Southern University
author of Remembering the Forgotten War: The Enduring Legacies of the US - Mexican War

Pioneers, Piety, and Public Memory

David Scott
Professor of Communication, Utah Valley University
author of "Constructing Sacred History:  Multi-Media Narratives and the Discourse of 'Museumness' at Mormon Temple Square"

Panel Discussion

2:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Sara Patterson, Michael Van Wagenen, David Scott


Friday, March 27th 

Myth-Making, Meaning, and Memory

10:00 - 10:50 a.m.

"Privately Remembering, Publicly Forgetting: History as Contested Space?"

John Hatch
Editor, Signature Books
editor of “From Prayer to Visitation: Reexamining Lorenzo Snow’s Vision of Jesus Christ in the Salt Lake Temple”

“Savior Seagulls: An Evolving Memory”

Claire Haynie
Historian, Church History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
author of "Savior Seagulls: The Evolution of a Miracle"  

History & Faith

11:00 - 11:50 a.m.

“Remembering and Forgetting the First Vision”

Steven Harper
Historian, Church History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
author of First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins

“Jedediah’s 1856 Reformation and the Grant Legacy”

Rebecca Roesler
Professor of Music, Brigham Young University-Idaho
author of "Plain and Precious Things Lost: The Small Plates of Nephi" in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

Panel Discussion

12:00 - 12:50 p.m.

John Hatch, Claire Haynie, Steven Harper, Rebecca Roesler
pizza will be served

Theology & the Process of Forgetting

1:00 - 1:50 p.m.

"'Forget everything that I have said': The Evolution of Church Doctrine"

Brian Birch
Director, Religious Studies Program, Utah Valley University
Series Editor, Perspectives on Mormon Theology 

"In Memory of What, Exactly?
Unfurling the Reception History of Captain Moroni's Covenantal Coat"

Ethan Sproat
Director of Proposal Development, Utah Valley University
author of "Skins as Garments in the Book of Mormon: A Textual Exegesis" 

Conceptualizing & Remembering Religious Experiences

2:00 - 2:50 p.m.

"The Slippery Edge of Righteousness: Spiritual Experience and Collective Memory"

Erin Stiles, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Nevada-Reno 

"Remembering the White Horse Prophecy: Fake News or Divine Revelation?  "

Christopher Blythe, Research Associate, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University
co-editor, Journal of Mormon History

Panel Discussion

3:00 - 3:50 p.m.

Erin Stiles, Ethan Sproat, Christopher Blythe, Brian Birch  


Eugene England Lecture

Picture card describing the Eugene England Lecture