Mormon History Association 52nd Annual Conference
June 1-4, 2017
St. Louis, Missouri
Call for Papers
Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History
The fifty-second annual conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 1-4, 2017, at the St. Charles Convention Center in the St. Louis, Missouri metro area. The 2017 conference theme, “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History,” borrows concepts from religious studies scholar Thomas A. Tweed, who argues that religion is simultaneously in motion and in place. The theme seeks to capture both St. Louis’s general history and Latter-day Saint connections to the city’s past.
St. Louis was founded by fur traders in 1764. The territory in which St. Louis was located was governed by Spanish and French authorities prior to the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, after which it became part of the United States. The city’s geographical position on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers ensured that St. Louis would be an important trade center and a launching point for westward migration. In the twentieth century, the city’s historic status as the Gateway to the West was made tangible when St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair in 1904 (held partly to honor the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase) and the construction of the famous Gateway Arch in 1965.
The conference theme, “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History,” seeks to capture the essence of Mormon connections with St. Louis’s history. As early as 1831, Oliver Cowdery and his companions passed through the city on their way to the Indian territory. In subsequent years, many Saints, including Joseph Smith, stopped in St. Louis as they traveled between the Mormon settlements in Missouri and Ohio. In 1839, the inhabitants of St. Louis welcomed Latter-day Saint refugees fleeing Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s infamous “extermination order.” Within a decade, as conditions in Illinois deteriorated, many Mormons again found a safe haven in St. Louis. From the 1840s through the late 1860s, thousands of European converts passed through the city on their way first to Nauvoo and then the Great Basin. In the 1850s, the semi-permanent Mormon population in St. Louis had grown to the point that the Utah church established a stake in the city for a few years, until the stake was discontinued during the Utah War in 1857. The Reorganized Church (now Community of Christ) maintained a prospering branch in St. Louis during the second half of the nineteenth century, with Joseph Smith III presiding over two General Conferences in the city in 1869 and 1872. In the twentieth century, both major manifestations of the Restoration have claimed significant presences in St. Louis.
The program committee invites proposals that address the conference theme of “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History.” How has the practice of “gathering” tied the various Restoration traditions to specific places, and how have those places been connected with the broader society? How have the various traditions of Mormonism crossed from one place to another, both literally and figuratively? How have ideas and practices remained constant or changed over time?
Although the program committee is especially interested in papers that address the theme, all proposals will be considered. A strong preference will be given to proposals for complete panels, meaning a chair, three presenters, and a commentator. Sessions including international presenters (in person or via teleconference), and creative formats such as roundtables, performances, film screenings, or other experimental arrangements, are particularly encouraged. Please send 1) a 300 word abstract for each paper or presentation and 2) a brief 1-2 page CV for each presenter, including email contact information. Session proposals should also include the session title and a 300 word session abstract, along with a confirmed chair and/or commentator, if applicable.
Previously published papers are not eligible for presentation at MHA. An individual may only submit one proposal as a session presenter, although it is acceptable for a presenter in one session to be a chair or commentator in another. Limited financial assistance is available to some student presenters and presenters from less economically-developed nations. Those who wish to apply for funding should include estimated travel expenses with their proposals.
The extended deadline for all proposals is November 1, 2016. Proposals should be sent by email to the program co-chairs, David Grua and Janiece Johnson, at mhaconference2017 AT gmail DOT com. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made by December 15, 2016.
David W. Grua, LDS Church History Department, Co-Chair
Janiece Johnson, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Co-Chair