Mormonism in the Academy

In the near future, it is unlikely that Mormon Studies will find an institutional home beyond Utah and the presence at Claremont. However, it is abundantly clear that Mormonism is an area of expanding research and teaching interest for serious scholars. The American Academy of Religion -- the world's largest scholarly association dedicated to the academic study of religion -- has a subgroup dedicated to the study of Mormonism. A number of prestigious university presses, most notably Oxford University Press, have expanded their catalogues to include numerous titles dealing with various aspects of Mormonism. Mormonism also continues to occupy increasingly prominent places in college-level textbooks on religion. Robert E. Van Voorst, for example, included selections from the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants in the latest edition of his highly-regarded, and widely-used, Anthology of World Scriptures. At the moment, very few schools offer stand-alone courses on Mormonism, preferring to incorporate Mormonism into broader courses -- typically those dealing with religion in America and/or New Religious Movements. As Mormonism continues to grow demographically, expand geographically, and mature intellectually, it is possible that interest in the subject will be sufficiently widespread, constant, and deep that universities may be able to offer courses on Mormonism in the same way that courses on Catholicism, Judaism, and Buddhism are offered today.

 

Stephen Taysom is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Cleveland State University. His research interests include the history of religion in America, New Religious Movements, ritual studies, and theory and method in comparative religious studies. Stephen is also a contributing writer to the Patheos Library on Mormonism.

8/9/2010 4:00:00 AM