BYU Studies cinema

A message from Jack Welch and Gideon Burton:

The upcoming issue of BYU Studies, volume 46, no. 2, will be a long-awaited, double-sized issue about Mormons and film.

This blockbuster issue, edited by Gideon Burton and Randy Astle, begins with a 140-page history of Mormon involvement with cinema over the past 100 years. Other titles include: “Mormon Cinema and the Paradoxes of Mormon Culture,” by Terryl L. Givens; “Competing Business Models in Mormon Cinema,” by Eric Samuelsen; “The Mormon as Vampire,” by James D’Arc; “Active Spectatorship: Spiritual Dimensions of Film,” by Sharon Swenson; and other articles by Travis T. Anderson, Dean Duncan, and Thomas J. Lefler. Also, the recent PBS special, “The Mormons” is among the films reviewed in this issue of BYU Studies.

In certain ways, Mormon cinema has come into its own in recent years; but in other ways, Latter-day Saints have made use of film for over a century. For anyone interested in a better night at the theatre, this issue will be just the ticket.

To ensure receiving this special issue, one must subscribe to BYU Studies by August 25th, which can be done either on line at, or by visiting the BYU Studies offices in 245 or 403 Clyde Building during BYU Campus Education Week. For $25 per year, you will receive this and three other issues during the next 12 months. Popcorn not included.

19 comments for “BYU Studies cinema

  1. Adam Greenwood
    July 31, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Great tip, Kaimi W. Thanks.

  2. July 31, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    “The Mormon as Vampire” is a title I just have to love. I wonder if that’s based in our aversion to crosses, or if it’s because we drink blood.


  3. Jack
    July 31, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    It’s because we have an aversion to stakes.

  4. Kevin Barney
    July 31, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the advance notice, Kaimi. This is the kind of thing at which BYU Studies particularly excells. I’ll look forward to the issue with great interest–and, as always, I would encourage ‘Naclers to subscribe already!

  5. Dan S.
    August 1, 2007 at 1:03 am

    The “Mormon as Vampire” comment above reminds me of the post some time back (I think from Kaimi) about possible mormon horror film titles. I couldn’t find it when I ran a search of T&S. That would be fun to read again. . .

  6. August 1, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Jack, that was brilliant.

  7. Bill MacKinnon
    August 1, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Because of the typefaces and punctuations in the original post, it’s hard for me to tell where the esteemed Kaimi’s role leaves off and the “message” from Messrs. Welch and Burton picks up (and vice versa), but this post prompts me to ask if it is anything more than an ad. An interesting and informative piece, but nonetheless an ad. Will T&S accept one from my colleagues at the Mormon History Association notifying your readers of the many benefits of membership in that Association and the pending delights at next May’s Sacramento annual conference? From my pals at The Arthur H. Clark Co./ University of Oklahoma Press re B. Carmon Hardy’s new “Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy, Its Origins, Practice and Demise”? Cloth, $39.95. No popcorn. No kiddin’

  8. Sarah
    August 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    This is easily the silliest question I’ve ever asked — is the BYU campus crowded (to the point of it being easier to borrow my stepfather’s credit card rather than make the attempt to visit in person) during Education Week? I had planned to visit the campus anyway (I’ve never been to Utah before and we’ll be there from the 19th through the 22nd,) and stopping by a random office wouldn’t be much of a chore, but your last sentence makes me nervous. I’m not sure doing Salt Lake City for the first time, Provo for the first time, BYU for the first time, and Education Week for the first time, all at the same time, is necessarily the best of ideas. And adding an attempt at subscribing to a magazine to that mix seems a little like taunting Fate just to see what it’ll do.

    And I suppose “Mormons as Vampires” has to do with our tendency to absorb the general Christian culture in order to create our own art. See, also, Hillary Weeks.

  9. August 1, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Bill: Yes, blogs actually do post things like that — kind of a public service to the blogging Mormon public. In fact, Justin (at Mormon Wasp) just posted details of the recent MHA conference and he often posts about upcoming conferences. I posted (at DMI) comments on your recent Dialogue article, along with a hint that readers might consider subscribing.

  10. Jacob
    August 1, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Kaimi – Thanks for the info. I, for one, wouldn’t have heard about this without this post.

    Bill – This is why he wrote the post, to inform people like me. And it’s not an ad unless he gets paid for it. And $25 a year is much better than $39.95.

  11. Katherine M
    August 2, 2007 at 12:47 am

    I’m guessing the “The Mormon as Vampire” article has something to do with how the Mormons are portrayed in the 1922 anti-Mormon film “Trapped by the Mormons.” Read abut it here:

  12. Kaimi Wenger
    August 2, 2007 at 1:46 am


    Dave’s right.

    The post is all (except for the italicized intro) cut from an e-mail I got from Gideon Burton. It’s an ad, alright. But it’s one that is, I think, relevant for T&S readers. I’ve posted before encouraging readers to subscribe to Mormon Studies periodicals, including Dialogue, Sunstone, and BYU Studies. I’ve reviewed books, and Julie reviews a lot of books, and many times the book reviews end up being, in essence, “go buy Greg Prince’s new bio.”

    Bloggernacle blogs do this a lot, covering books by Signature and BYU Press and Illinois and other presses, articles, symposia, and so on. I’ve blogged about Sunstone symposium, Miller-Eccles group, and others.

    I haven’t posted about MHA events because that’s a bit outside my area of expertise. I’m not really a Mormon historian. (I defer to many great Mormon historians, including co-blogger Ardis, on that front.) But I’d be happy to blog about MHA, and I’d welcome a description that I could post.

    And I’m not a polygamy expert, but it’s entirely possible that one of our group will want to review Hardy (Julie, perhaps? Nate? Ardis?). If someone from here decides to review it, who should they contact for a review copy? For that matter, the OU publicist should also contact FMH-Lisa to see if she or a colleague (perhaps Janet or ECS) want a review copy. FMH talks about polygamy _all the time_, and they’ve done extended blog roundtables about both _Women and Authority_ and _Pedestals and Podiums_, which focused the attention of her readers on those two books.

  13. Adam Greenwood
    August 2, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Will T&S accept one from my colleagues at the Mormon History Association notifying your readers of the many benefits of membership in that Association and the pending delights at next May’s Sacramento annual conference? From my pals at The Arthur H. Clark Co./ University of Oklahoma Press re B. Carmon Hardy’s new “Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy, Its Origins, Practice and Demise”? Cloth, $39.95.

    If one of our cobloggers is interested enough to post about it, knock yourself out. Otherwise, too bad. This isn’t a clearinghouse for every thing Mormon related, but for stuff we come across that we think is interesting enough to pass on. Ardis P. is probably the person you’d want to contact about the MHA. Several of the cobloggers here might be interested in a review copy of the Hardy book.

  14. Adam Greenwood
    August 2, 2007 at 8:43 am

    the BYU campus crowded (to the point of it being easier to borrow my stepfather’s credit card rather than make the attempt to visit in person) during Education Week?

    No, its much less crowded than during school. The only problem with Education Week is that a lot of the people you stop for directions won’t be able to help.

  15. August 2, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Kaimi, that’s a good idea — I dunno why I haven’t thought of scaring up review copies myself. I’ve written to the publisher to suggest that he contact Julie, and fmhLisa (or colleague) about the possibility of reviews.

  16. Bill MacKinnon
    August 2, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thanks to Dave, Jacob, and Kaimi for smartening me up on T&S’s interest in and tolerance for notices (if not ads) on relevant events, books, movies, etc. In mentioning (#7) the attractions of MHA’s May 2008 Sacramento conference and B. Carmon Hardy’s new book on polygamy “The Works of Abraham” I wasn’t seriously flogging these two offerings but rather was throwing them out as examples of other things that might equal the readership’s possible interest in “BYU Studies.” I’m delighted to hear that there might be an interest and that it’s OK to surface their availability. Re “The Works of Abraham” you know from #15 that Ardis has contacted the publisher about review copies. I’ve also written to Bob Clark, publisher of the University of Oklahoma Press’s Arthur H. Clark imprint, to support her inquiry and recommendation. (As an aside I’ll mention that the director of OUPress is a Latter-day Saint and that Bob is a descendant of both the Nauvoo Legion’s D.H. Wells and President Heber J. Grant.) Jacob, I hope that you’re not too put off by the $39.95 price tag since that’s what my “At Sword’s Point” will be coming out at in early 2008. In the spirit of Adam’s encouragement re MHA, I’ll elaborate by commenting that the May 22-25, 2008 annual conference should be a great one. The theme is “Growth and Gateways: Mormonism in a Wider World” and will emphasize the notion that nineteenth-century California was home of the first large concentration of Mormons outside the intermountain region as well as the spring board for missionary efforts in Australia, the Sandwich Islands (aka Hawaii) and other Pacific island venues. I know that there will be panels dealing with Sam Brannan’s voyage aboard the Brooklyn to establish a non-U.S. Mormon political entity in Alta California (a hope dashed when the Brooklyn sailed into Yerba Buena harbor and saw the stars and stripes fluttering from U.S.S. Portsmouth, which had beat him to the port by a few days), the gold rush, the Mormon Battalion, and California’s role in the Utah War. I would think that there will also be papers focusing on Brigham Young’s long love-hate relationship with California and his similar ambivalence about mining. For more info. go to where you’ll find a good explanation of what the Mormon History Association is and what the plans are for MHA-Sacramento. For those of you wishing to submit paper/panel proposals for the conference, the deadline is October, and the call for papers can be accessed through MHA’s web site. Nearly every Mormon historian (including Elder Marlin K. Jensen) mentioned on this blog recently was at the MHA-Salt Lake City meeting last May along with 800 of their closest friends. With a total MHA membership of 1,300 people, that’s an astounding “gathering” that I hope will prompt you to consider being part of the excitement and learning. What was it that drew them to such a meeting and prompted Helen Whitney to do likewise only a few weeks after unveiling “The Mormons” on PBS? Join us in Sacramento if you can.

  17. Sarah
    August 2, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks, Adam. I think we’ll brave the experience. ^_^

    And… dude. a 1922 film with Mormons as suave “mesmerizers”? That’s possibly even cooler propaganda than the only (as far as I know) silent Soviet science fiction film, Aelita, Queen of Mars. Though neither, I suspect, can hold a candle to I Am Cuba, which is propaganda, goofy, tri-lingual, and self-indulgent experimental 1960s “look at us, we’re all on LSD, even the camera guys!” all at the very same time.

  18. Mike
    August 4, 2007 at 10:12 am

    I have a copy of TRAPPED BY THE MORMONS. It is long, boring, filled with gross distortions and is unintentionally but absolutely hilarious at times. For example at one point the entrance of a Mormon missionary dressed like Dracula with sunglases so infuriates a paralytic father that he is partially cured of his malady enough to rise from his wheelchair and run the missionary off.

    One of the things I think is interesting to note about this old black and white silent movie is that President Benson served his first mission in England at the same time this movie was made. President Hinckley also served his mission in England shortly after the time this movie was made when it was still being shown. We who have served know what an impact our missions have on us for the rest of our lives. To realize President Hinckley’s perspective spans all the time between now and an era when that film was taken serious by the public is remarkable. Who knows, it might have helped spark President Hinckley’s life long interest in the media as a tool to spread the gospel. In another century the soon to be released film SEPTEMBER DAWN may also be collected and appreciated in a parallel way.

  19. Jack Welch
    August 5, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Mike is quite right about President Hinckley’s very early involvement in film as a tool for spreading the gospel beginning right after he returned from his mission in England. Randy Astle’s history of Mormons and film tells all about it and about lots of other similar connections and developments.

    Sarah, since this is your first time to Utah, we’ll be happy to roll out the red carpet for you. For special visitors, maybe even popcorn. While you’re on campus, you may also want to see the Roman bronze plates now on display near the entrance to the Harold B. Lee Library.

    Kaimi, thanks for getting the word out. By the way, the root meaning of the word advertisement is simply ad-vert, to turn toward. I’m glad that you turn attention to lots of interesting things.

    This film issue has been a bit of a stretch for us, since there hasn’t been much written about Mormons and film before. Gideon is to be credited with masterminding this issue and driving it though its editorial stages. I hope this issue will get people thinking about the many strengths as well as weaknesses of film as a medium, especially when dealing with religious content.

    Above all, working on this film issue has got me wondering where Mormon film is now headed. What will the next five or ten years bring? Does anyone out there have a good crystal ball?

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