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This series touched on such themes as Mormonism's intellectual legacy,
women's history, race and gender, and LDS institutional dynamics

In conjunction with the Marlin K. Jensen Scholar in Residence program, Brian Birch's course on "The Intellectual Life of Mormonism" hosted a four-part discussion series featuring Mormon Studies scholars during the 2016 fall semester at the University of Utah's Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center.


The LDS Church and the Academic Study of Mormonism: Institutional Dynamics
Thursday, December 8th, 2016


Marlin Jensen is a General Authority Emeritus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he served as Church Historian/Recorder and Executive Director of Church History Department. Among his many other responsibilities, he oversaw the development of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, the construction of the Church History Library, and the production of the Gospel Topics Essays. He currently serves on the Utah State Board of Regents.

Lisa Tait is a historian and writer at the Church History Library for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and holds a Ph.D. in American Literature and an interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Houston. She is an award-winning author who also serves on the executive committee of the Mormon Women’s History Initiative and on the board of the Mormon History Association. She is currently working on a biography of Susa Young Gates and researching the history of the Young Women’s organization.

J. Spencer Fluhman is Director of the Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship and associate professor of history at Brigham Young University. He is the award-winning author of A Peculiar People: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America and serves on the Executive Council of the American Society of Church History. He is the current co-chair of the Mormon Studies Group in the American Academy of Religion.

Grant Underwood is professor of history at Brigham Young University. He is author of the award winning The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism and Voyages of Faith: Explorations in Mormon Pacific History. Prior to his current appointment, he served as a research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History at Brigham Young University. He is the founding co-chair of Mormon Studies Group in the American Academy of Religion.


Race and Gender in Mormon Studies: Contemporary Perspectives
Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Margaret Toscano is associate professor of Classics & Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Utah. She is the author of Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology and co-editor of Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives.

Paul Reeve is associate professor of history at the University of Utah and author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness and co-editor with Ardis E. Parshall of Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. With Michael Van Wagenen he co-edited Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore.


Writing Women’s History in Mormonism: Old Challenges, New Prospects
Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Colleen McDannell is the Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of History, University of Utah; author of Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America, Heaven: A History, and The Spirit of Vatican II: A History of Catholic Reform in America

Linda King Newell is author of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith; past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association, and former co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Kate Holbrook is a specialist in women’s history in the Church History Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the co-editor of Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives and The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History


Mormonism’s Intellectual Legacy: Nibley, Bennion, McMurrin, & Arrington
Thursday, September 29th, 2016 

Mary Bradford is author of Lowell Bennion: Counselor, Teacher, Counselor, Humanitarian and Leaving Home: Personal Essays; editor of Mormon Women Speak, and former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Jackson Newell is Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership & Policy and Dean of Liberal Education at the University of Utah; President Emeritus of Deep Springs College, co-author of Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling McMurrin, and a former co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 

Boyd Petersen is a professor in the Department of English & Literature and Program Coordinator for Mormon Studies, Utah Valley University; author of Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, and current editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Gregory Prince is an Independent historian and author of Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History, David O. McKay and the Making of Modern Mormonism, and Power from on High: The Development of the Mormon Priesthood.

For information on attending individual class sessions (Thursday evenings), please contact Brian Birch at

For general information, please contact the Tanner Humanities Center at 801/581-7989 or


About Brian D. Birch

Brian D. Birch, Marlin K. Jensen Scholar in Residence, Tanner Humanities Center, Fall 2016
Director of the Religious Studies Program & Center for the Study of Ethics
Office Location: Tanner Humanities Center, 141

Brian D. Birch is director of the Religious Studies Program and director of the Center for the Study of Ethics at Utah Valley University. He specializes in the philosophy of religion, ethics, religious pluralism, and the interdisciplinary study of Mormonism. He is the founding editor of Teaching Ethics and Element: The Journal of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Parliament of the World's Religions. He is completing his current book project entitled Mormonism Among Christian Theologies (with Grant Underwood) for Oxford University Press and has begun work on his new project entitled The Intellectual Life of Mormonism: Reason, Faith, and Science Among the Latter-day Saints. In 2016, he was named Marlin K. Jensen Scholar in Residence at the University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Center.

Last Updated: 11/2/18