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States of Deseret — Now available!

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States of Deseret was released last week. From editor Wm Morris’s release notice on our partner A Motley Vision:

seret is now available

Cover of States of Deseret featuring a Casey Jex Smith pen and ink illustration of a Mormon temple with the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate bridge in the backgroundPeculiar Pages in collaboration with A Motley Vision is pleased to announce the release of States of Deseret. With a foreword by Theric Jepson, cover illustration by Casey Jex Smith and 8 pieces of short and short short fiction, States of Deseret is, as far as I can tell, the first anthology devoted solely to Mormon alternate history.

It was a ton of fun to edit. My thanks to the eight contributors who authored such interesting and varied stories and who put up with my editing notes. This is a short anthology–it’s about 26,000 total words of fiction. It’s lean and mean and packs a punch.

States of Deseret is available from Amazon/Kindle & B&N/Nook & Kobo & iBooks.

AML Award (shortlist) for Dorian

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The highest recognition in the field of Mormon criticism is the AML Award. And thus it is thrilling to announce that Dorian has been shortlisted for the 2015 award. This is a recognition to everyone who was involved in the project, from writing the essays to the notes to quadruplechecking we’ve included only the typos that were in the 1921 original. Congratulations, everyone, on a job well done.

The other work on the shortlist is The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism, edited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow for Oxford University Press. The shortlist announcement notes that the volume “includes several articles on Mormon literature and culture, written by Jana Reiss, Eric A. Eliason, Paul L. Anderson, Michael Austin, and Michael D. Hicks.”

New Anthology of Essays on Mormon Literature

CALL FOR PAPERS

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Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson’sTending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature. As the first anthology of Mormon literary criticism, it was an important step forward in the development of Mormon literary studies and served a generation of scholars well.

Unfortunately, while the essays in Tending the Garden remain useful, the volume itself has become outdated. Over the last two decades, Mormon literature and literary studies have evolved in surprising ways, thanks in part to the ongoing efforts of the Association for Mormon Letters and the rise of the internet. Indeed, as foretold by Lavina Fielding Anderson in her preface to Tending the Garden, the internet has allowed discussions of Mormon literature to extend beyond the borders of the Wasatch Front, introducing fresh insights and enabling a more global understanding of Mormon literature. Moreover, it has allowed scholars, authors, and enthusiasts of Mormon literature from around the world to feel a sense of community and engage actively in the ongoing development of Mormon literature and Mormon literary studies.

In light of recent anthologies of short Mormon fiction, Mormon poetry, and Mormon drama, Scott Hales is beginning a new anthology of Mormon literary theory and criticism. The first part of the anthology will collect essays from the last twenty years about theoretical and practical approaches to writing and analyzing Mormon literature, while the second part will collect essays from the same time period about specific Mormon texts or literary trends.

To find these essays, he will be going through back issues of the AML Annual, Irreantum, DialogueSunstone, and other periodicals that have published on Mormon literature. Significant posts advancing our understanding of the field will likewise be drawn from blogs like A Motley Vision and Dawning of a Brighter Day. However, we are also extending a call for papers to gather any previously published or unpublished material that may be out there.

Essay submissions should address Mormon literature and be no longer than 10,000 words. The collection seeks to examine Mormon literature broadly, so essays about literary works by or about Mormons will be considered, even if the literary works themselves have no overt Mormon content. For a submission to receive full consideration, however, it should approach these works as Mormon literature or expressions of Mormon thought.

Send inquiries and submissions to criticismproject@peculiarpages.com. The deadline is December 1, 2015.

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An open conversation regarding suggestions for previously published work (and side issues of the project that you would like Scott Hales to consider) is being held at A Motley Vision.

Open call for Dove Song

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We’re Seeking Poems about Heavenly Mother

Peculiar Pages is seeking submissions for a poetry anthology titled Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. This anthology will consist of historical and contemporary poems that address, reference, or otherwise reflect upon Heavenly Mother. We will accept both previously published and unpublished poems and welcome a variety of approaches that incorporate Heavenly Mother in terms of form and content. General portrayals of motherhood, childrearing, or womanhood do not qualify and will not be considered.

Poets may submit up to five (5) poems to the editors via poetryproject@peculiar pages.com. The submissions deadline is August 15, 2015. Poems can be of any form or length and can be in a language other than English as long as an English translation is included. All submissions should be sent in DOC/DOCX, ODT, PDF, or RTF formats. The subject line of your email should follow this pattern: “YourLastName Heavenly Mother Poetry Submission.” Emails should include your full name, your phone number, a brief biographical note (100 words max), titles for your entries, and a statement assuring your poems are original. We will acknowledge receipt of your submissions within 48 hours and will send acceptance notices by November 15, 2015. Please do not contact us regarding your submission(s) before that date.

 

About the Editors

Tyler Chadwick edited the award-winning poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets (Peculiar Pages, 2011), and is the author of Field Notes on Language and Kinship (Mormon Artists Group, 2013), a collection of poetry and meditations on poetry. He lives in Ogden, Utah with his wife, Jessica, and their four daughters.

Dayna Patterson is the editor of Psaltery & Lyre. She received the Dialogue Award for Poetic Excellence for her poem “Eloher,” which won first place in the A Mother Here Art & Poetry Contest. Her chapbooks, Loose Threads and Mothering, are available from Flutter Press. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, Charles, and their two daughters.

Martin Pulido has researched Mormon belief in Heavenly Mother extensively. He co-authored the 2011 BYU Studies article, “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” and he has presented at academic conferences on the doctrinal development for belief in Heavenly Mother in Mormonism. He also organized the A Mother Here Art & Poetry Contest. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife Lindsay, son Liam, and daughter Evelynn.

 

About the Project

One of the basic teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that all human beings—male and female—are spirit sons or daughters of Heavenly Parents and that if we seek to live and love as Christ did and accept His transforming grace, we can become like Them. Mormons often explore what this means in terms of becoming like our Heavenly Father, but we keep needlessly silent about our Heavenly Mother, whose power and influence also shape human history and progression.

Mormons encounter Heavenly Mother in liturgical music, prominently in the well-beloved hymn, “O, My Father,” but also by default as one of our Heavenly Parents in “Oh, What Songs of the Heart” and “We Meet Again as Sisters.” Such performative, congregational art draws singers toward a recognition of Heavenly Mother’s presence. For many this is likely where such contemplation ends, in part because, upon closing the hymnal, the little space Mormons have to explore and discuss the Divine Feminine seems to vanish.

A handful of scholarly works on the topic have been written and read by Latter-day Saints, but the fiction and poetry addressing Heavenly Mother have historically attracted little notice. Many in the LDS community might not even know that such works exist, let alone where to find them. There is no literary anthology about Heavenly Mother that interested readers could reference, and historical LDS periodicals—where many Heavenly Mother poems or stories appeared—were largely out of reach until the archive began to be digitized over the last decade.

While limited access has kept many Mormons from encountering literary work about Heavenly Mother, a pervasive cultural silence that developed during the mid-to-late twentieth century has cocooned Her. From this perspective, Heavenly Mother is too sacred to talk about; speaking of Her would put Her at risk of being blasphemed, which would either break Her heart or summon Her and the Father’s wrath. This applies to heaven William Congreve’s adage: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” In this way Latter-day Saints have counterintuitively honored the Mother by ignoring (and thus “protecting”) Her, an attitude that has more often than not led to not even thinking of Her. This inclination has never been endorsed or encouraged by Church leaders, yet it remains pervasive.

As a result of this cultural mindset, Latter-day Saints have limited public acknowledgment of and discussion about Heavenly Mother’s reality, an approach that has diminished our ability to imagine Her character and being and to develop a more robust sense of godliness and social justice. Imagine what the Church—and our families—would look like, for instance, if we openly acknowledged the Mother’s authority as God, recognized that Her roles are radically equal with the Father’s, and raised Her up as another divine standard for children, youth, and adults to emulate.

The A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest (2014) aimed to counter Mormonism’s cultural silence about the Mother, to inspire thinking about the Divine Feminine, and to show that Heavenly Mother is a valued part of the Mormon religious tradition by encouraging artistic and literary portrayals of Her. We intend to continue that effort in Dove Song by providing access to historical and contemporary poems that address the Mother.

Mason Allred

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Mason Allred earned a BA in history from Brigham Young University–Hawaii and an MA and PhD in German studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a cultural historian of media, historiography, and historical experience. As a Fulbright Scholar, he spent a year in the archives of Germany for his dissertation on the relationship between cinema and modern historicity. He was a contributor to the documentary sourcebook, The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory 1907-1933 (UC Press, 2015). His interdisciplinary work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Jewish Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Transit, as well as in edited scholarly volumes. He recently accepted a position as historian at the Joseph Smith Papers.

He is the author of  “Integrating the “Best Books”: Interwar Intellectualism And Extratextuality in Nephi Anderson’s DORIAN” included in our Peculiar Edition of Dorian.

Jacob Bender

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Jacob Bender is a current PhD candidate in English at the University of Iowa, with an MA from the University of Utah and a BA from BYU-Idaho.  He has previously published in Dialogue, Sunstone, shipsofhagoth, and West Trade Review, among others.  His current research focuses on comparativist approaches to Irish Modernism and Latin-American literature.  He formerly taught at SLCC and LDSBC, and has also worked as a reporter in Mexico, an ELL instructor in China, and a missionary in Puerto Rico.  He hails from western Washington.

He is the author of  “This Is Not a Photograph: Nephi Anderson’s DORIAN as a Sort of LDS SONS AND LOVERS; or A PORTRAIT OF THE MORMON SOLIPSIST AS A YOUNG MAN” included in our Peculiar Edition of Dorian.

 

 

Harmonizing Mormonism and Science “in the Valley of Sunshine and Shadow” by Blair Dee Hodges

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In the lead-up to the March 31 release of our Peculiar Edition of Nephi Anderson’s novel Dorian we will be running a series of posts featuring the first paragraph (and one other paragraph of the editor’s whim) from the essays included in that volume. Come back for more every Tuesday and Thursday.

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The turn of the twentieth century marked a period of intense cultural shifts, not least of all regarding widespread views about the relationship between the natural sciences and religion. John William Draper’s massively influential History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) promoted the view that these were irreconcilable foes fighting to the death. Draper’s book is one of the chief disseminators of “the greatest myth in the history of science and religion… that they have been in a state of constant conflict.” True, Enlightenment-inspired confidence in human reason and technological advances challenged religious beliefs as the nineteenth century closed. Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1859) contributed to larger concerns about humanity’s place in an apparently indifferent universe. The Bible lost credibility due to developments in geology, biology, and textual criticism. Charles Taylor, who traces prehistories of skepticism, naturalism and humanism, identifies the nineteenth century as the period in which “unbelief comes of age,” but argues that science and religion have had a more interesting relationship than simple “subtraction stories” suggest….

Anderson’s eternal-progression evolution was not unique to him. It increasingly found expression in more sophisticated philosophical works by Mormon writers like Nels Nelson, but Added Upon reached more Mormon readers than more technical works could. Anderson’s preface presented the book’s speculative nature as a benefit rather than a drawback, hoping that “the mind of the reader, illumined by the Spirit of the Lord, will be able to fill in all the details that the heart may desire, to wander at will in the garden of the Lord, and dwell in peace in the mansions of the Father.” Anderson affirmed the ability of human imagination guided by inspiration to flesh out nascent possibilities in Mormon thought, reflecting the Romantic side of Mormonism’s “rational theology” as developed by educated Mormon leaders like apostle John A. Widtsoe and seventy B.H. Roberts, both of whom, like Anderson, emigrated from Europe to the United States after their families converted to the faith.

“Why Are there Classes among Members of Our Church?”: Anderson’s Economics of Mormonism in Transition by Sarah C. Reed

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In the lead-up to the March 31 release of our Peculiar Edition of Nephi Anderson’s novel Dorian we will be running a series of posts featuring the first paragraph (and one other paragraph of the editor’s whim) from the essays included in that volume. Come back for more every Tuesday and Thursday.

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The publication of Nephi Anderson’s last novel, Dorian, in 1921, came near the end of an era of Mormon history marked by a number of dramatic changes. During the 50 years from 1880 to 1930, the Mormon Church abandoned

many of its idiosyncratic practices: polygamy was officially ended, the LDS political party disbanded, communitarian economics de-emphasized. At the same time, it increasingly participated in American politics and culture: Mormons sent a delegation to the 1893 World’s Fair, Utah gained statehood in 1896, Reed Smoot weathered the congressional hearings regarding his election and was finally seated in the Senate in 1907. This process has been called “Americanization” or even “assimilation” because of the way the Mormon cultural region (to borrow Ethan Yorgason’s term) came to conform to hegemonic economic, political, and social norms; nevertheless, the integration of the region into America was not an unequivocal development. Mormonism’s doctrines and narrative had to be reinterpreted to harmonize the change from a separatist society to one accommodating the dominant cultural conventions….

As Mormonism shifted from communalism to capitalism, the individual began to displace the community in the building of Zion. The emphasis on self-sufficiency moved from a community effort to the onus of individuals. Even so, vestiges of the older model remained in the discourse. For example, apostle Anthon H. Lund was himself a Danish immigrant and was sympathetic to the difficulties that other immigrant converts faced. In various conference talks he reminded the saints of their responsibilities in helping these new members integrate into the community. Similarly, Andrew Jenson, assistant church historian and also a Danish immigrant, continued to speak about the gathering and praised the Mormon communities and warned against their dissolution, even as other leaders de-emphasized this model. Uncle Zed’s immigrant background fits in with this perspective; for him, communitarianism wasn’t just an economic model, but had a theological implication. In one of their theological talks, Uncle Zed explains to Dorian his idea of salvation, blending together science, religion, and economy. Christ works for those of us below him who can’t get there “by self-effort alone,” that “the great error” of evolutionists is that “higher forms evolve from the initial and unaided movements of the lower,” which “is as impossible as that a man can lift himself to the skies by his boot-straps” (122 – 123). In working out individual salvation, Uncle Zed gives three principles: 1) the individual must be willing to progress; 2) he must be willing to accept help; and 3) he must be willing to “share all good with others” (125). Uncle Zed goes on to expound on the third principle: “Coming back now to the application I mentioned. If it is God’s work and glory to labor for those below Him, why should not we, His sons and daughters, follow His example as far as possible in our sphere of action? If we are ever to become like Him we must follow in His steps and do the things which He has done. Our work, also must be to help along the road to salvation those who are lower down, those who are more ignorant and are weaker than we” (124 – 125).