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Work in Progress Talks  Spring 2018

Work in Progress Talks give research fellows at the Tanner Humanities Center opportunity to present the latest work on their current research and to receive feedback in a casual setting from faculty, staff, students, and community. Open to the public but seating is limited, light lunch provided. Talks are held every spring in the Jewel Box, Room 143 @CTIHB (MAP). Please e-mail John Boyack or call 801-587-8879 for ADA accommodation.

40 minute talk plus 20 minute Q&A. Talks begin promptly at Noon.

February 20, 12pm

Apparitions of the Priesthood: Spectral Authority in Contemporary Mormon Fundamentalism

by Cristina Rosetti, Mormon Studies Graduate Research Fellow

Religious Studies, University of California-Riverside

On May 10, 1977, Rulon C. Allred, physician and Prophet of the Apostolic United Brethren. was murdered on the order of Ervil LeBaron. According to AUB Priesthood lineage, Rulon Allred had a rightful successor who held the Keys to the Priesthood following the murder. However, for a small group of Saints gathering in rural Nevada, the line of succession was far more complex than the traditional linear models of succession found within most Mormon groups. For members of the “Nevada group,” Allred had another worthy successor who claimed Rulon Allred ordained him to the office of High Priest Apostle. This successor further testified to spectral interactions with Allred through apparitions and visions that confirmed Allred’s ordination and the successor’s new role as the holder of the Priesthood Keys. Today, members of the group continue to offer testimonies of Rulon’s involvement in the organization and deceased Prophets acting on behalf of temporal leaders from the other side of the veil.

Spirits are disruptive forces that re-enter time and space to complicate narratives and offer visions of alternative futures. While Mormonism has a long history of individuals interacting with deceased ancestors on the other side of the veil, LDS leadership enforces a line between acceptable spirit communication and spectral encounters that lead to Apostasy. Fundamentalist groups and individuals seeking spiritual authority outside of traditional LDS channels are usually marked as the latter. This paper analyzes one fundamentalist groups’ interactions with the deceased as a source of authority and places them within the broader framework of Mormon succession narratives. In doing so, this research articulates a method of deriving Priesthood authority that, while often deemed unconventional, is nevertheless very Mormon.


02/27 - Sunggyung Jo, English, University of Utah

03/06 - Danielle Olden, History, University of Utah

03/13 - Nick Harrison, Philosophy, University of Utah

03/27 - Gretchen Henderson, English, Georgetown University

04/03 - Jeremy Rosen, English, University of Utah

04/10 - Kevin Coe, Communication, University of Utah

04/17 - Christal Hazelton, Film & Media Arts, University of Utah

To read more about fellow research topics, click here

Previous Talks

February 06, 12pm
Captive Fame: Animality, Celebrity, and the Victorian Zoo
by Jessica Straley, Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Utah

The London Zoo recently named their newest addition, a baby okapi, Meghan in honor of the latest royal couple. The Como Park Zoo in St. Paul invited the public to vote after the birth of a gorilla, now called Nyati by popular consensus. Zoos rely on celebrity animals to attract visitors and use the lure of “zooborns” to disseminate information about endangered species. But does celebrity translate into pedagogy? What does going to the zoo or engaging with prominent zoo residents via social media actually teach us about wild animals or environmental degradation? 

These questions have hounded zoos since their inception in the nineteenth century. For scholars, the zoo fails to impart scientific instruction because it substitutes entertainment for education and because its real subject is not nature but empire, but the trouble is more deeply embedded in the zoo’s foundation. This paper explores the first zoo, London’s Zoological Gardens (est. 1826), and the first zoo celebrity, the hippopotamus Obaysch (b. 1849), to interrogate the pedagogical origins of the zoo, the rise of the celebrity animal, and the ways in which the textual circulation of the zoo “star” (through guidebooks, newspapers, sensationalized biographies, and children’s books) worked both in tandem and in tension with the physical bodies of caged beasts to define the “animal.”


February 13, 12pm
Russian Subjects, Humoral Bodies, and Knowledge Networks
by Matt Romaniello, Tanner Humanities Center Visiting Faculty Research Fellow
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

In 1788 Dr. Matthew Guthrie, a Scottish doctor in Russian service, wrote with some concern that while several physicians “of late years pointed out the influence of hot climates on the human body, and its diseases; but few seem to have investigated the effects of cold.” Based on his career in Russia, he suggested that the country provided ample grounds for study, with “the severity of the climate, and the dirty unwholesome mode of living of the common people of this empire, want of proper ventilation, &c.” Fears of Russia’s environment, its food, and the lifestyles of its diverse population were not only raised by physicians like Guthrie but also appear in the correspondence and publication of merchants, diplomats, and visitors to the empire.

In the eighteenth century, Guthrie and his colleagues created a typology of the people of the Russian Empire to both serve the interests of the Russian state and advance the march of science in the Enlightenment. European and Asian scholars traveled through Russia during this period of ferment in biology and ethnography, describing the people, landscape, and customs of the empire, but the differences they catalogued were inscribed ultimately on the bodies of Russian subjects.  This talk will analyze the origins of imperial typology and consider its dissemination across Europe through formal and informal networks, and consider the ways in which this classification schema guided Russia’s colonial project into the modern era.


Last Updated: 2/14/18