Scholars & Saints: The University of Virginia Mormon Studies Podcast

Scholars & Saints: The University of Virginia Mormon Studies Podcast

On Scholars & Saints we'll explore some of the most pressing issues and cutting-edge methods in Mormon Studies, and put them in conversation with scholarship from the discipline of Religious Studies. You might be wondering, what is Mormon Studies? Mormon Studies refers to the broad interdisciplinary efforts of scholars both within and outside the Latter Day Saint tradition to understand the religion founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830. Mormonism includes well known branches like the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as hundreds more.

Episodes

June 22, 2021 48 min

In this episode I chat with anthropologist Jon Bialecki about his new book Machines for Making Gods: Mormonism, Transhumanism, and Worlds Without End  (Fordham University Press, forthcoming). 

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In this episode I chat with Professor Jake Johnson of Oklahoma City University about his book Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2019). 

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In this episode I chat with Professor Rebecca Janzen from the University of South Carolina about her book Liminial Sovereignty: Mennonites and Mormons in Mexican Culture (New York: SUNY Press, 2018). 

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On this episode of Scholars & Saints I’m chatting with Latter-day Saint philosopher Dr. Joseph Spencer about a book by Lebanese philosopher and poet Jad Hatem called Postponing Heaven: The Three Nephites, the Bodhisattva, and the Mahdi. Postponing is a comparative theological work drawing on the continental philosophical tradition that considers the concept of “human messianicity” and especially its implications for time and wh...

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Today on Scholars & Saints, we’re chatting with McKay Coppins, a Latter-day Saint journalist who has covered American politics for Newsweek, Buzzfeed, and The Atlantic for the past decade. In December 2020, Coppins wrote a long-form essay for The Atlantic called “The Most American Religion,” in which he probes  questions about Mormonism’s relationship with American culture and  “what Mormonism might look like in its 3rd century...

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Today on Scholars & Saints  I’m chatting with Dr. Cristina Rosetti about a controversial new document making the rounds on Latter-day Saint social media called the Latter-day Saint Radical Orthodoxy manifesto. Today we’ll situate the manifesto within its broad historical context and compare it with similar groups among other Christian denominations. 

This is part 1 of a 2-part special episode.  

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In the second part of our special episode on the Latter-day Saint Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto, I'm chatting with Dan Ellsworth, a signatory to the manifesto and a prominent writer and advocate within the Radical Orthodoxy community. 

This is part 2 of a 2-part special episode. 

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On this episode of Scholars & Saints, we're chatting about Mormons and secularism. In his recent book Make Yourselves Gods: Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism, Peter Coviello argues that early Mormonism resisted the biopolitical disciplines of the secular nation-state, largely because of Joseph Smith's doctrine of human divinization, or what Coviello calls "the radiant body." 

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Today on Scholars and Saints we’re talking about the ways in which the American Frontier acted as a kind of religion of “Americanness” in 19th century America. We’ll talk about how Latter-day Saints fit into that American Frontier religion, and how they negotiated and contested the boundaries of Americanness and good religion in their encounters with Protestants. Ultimately, this is a story about secularization, in which we learn t...

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Today on Scholars & Saints, I’m chatting with Professor Michael MacKay of Brigham Young University and Dr. Mark Ashurst-McGee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Joseph Smith Papers Project about Joseph Smith and what he termed “translations” of ancient documents. In this episode we review essays by Ann Taves, Michael MacKay, Jared Hickman, Samuel Morris Brown, Mark Ashurst-McGee and others, which bring new metho...

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Today on Scholars & Saints, I’m chatting with Professor Ronit Stahl about the US military chaplaincy. During World War I, the unprecedented size of the US military, along with a mandatory draft meant that the military had to contend for the first time with large scale religious pluralism. Over the course of the twentieth century, the military chaplaincy changed both the military and religion. Along with other minority faiths, t...

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Today on Scholars & Saints, I’m chatting with Professor Stephen Taysom about former Latter-day Saint president Joseph F. Smith. The nephew of church founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph F. Smith witnessed many of the most striking events of early Mormonism from his childhood in Nauvoo, to his adolescence on the Midwestern plains, to the settlement of the Great Basin in Utah, and more. A complex figure, Smith was known as much for...

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The body has always played a central role in Latter-day Saint religious experience: touching, seeing, building, walking, sweating, and even bleeding sculpt the ways Latter-day Saints think about God, the world, and themselves. From the Gold Plates, to the Mormon Trail, to the Salt Lake Temple, Latter-day Saints mark and interpret space in ways that have profound implications for history and memory. Today I speak with Professor Sara...

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From the early days of Joseph Smith’s religious movement, Mormons have creatively navigated tensions with American culture and government through political activity. In 1844, Joseph Smith ran for president and even sent out missionaries to campaign for him. In the early 20th century, Apostle Reed Smoot served in the US Senate for many years. Decades later, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson would serve as US Secretary of Agriculture under Pr...

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In this episode, Quincy Newell joins me to talk about her book Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon. We explore how Jane James's experiences shed light on race, gender, and religion in the American West of the 19th century.

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We explore Mormon ideas about the end of the world. In his recent book, Terrible Revolution: Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse, Christopher James Blythe argues that Latter-day Saint apocalyptic prophecy has changed over time. What began as the expectation of an imminent apocalypse in early Mormonism changed in the early 20th century as Latter-day Saints in the United States returned from isolation in the Rocky Mountains...

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