Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson’s Tending 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Unfortunately, while the essays in Tending the Garden remain useful, the volume itself has become outdated.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, I am putting together a new anthology of Mormon literary theory and criticism to be published by Peculiar Pages. 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, I will be going through back issues of the AML Annual, Irreantum, Dialogue, Sunstone, and other periodicals that have published on Mormon literature. I will likewise be drawing from blogs like A Motley Vision and Dawning of a Brighter Day for significant posts that have advanced our understanding of the field. However, I am also extending a call for papers to gather any previously published or unpublished material that may be out there.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 scotthales80(at)gmail(dot)com. The deadline is December 1, 2015.
Of course, I’d like feedback on this project. What essays or blog posts from the last twenty years would you include in this anthology?
6 thoughts on “CFP: Announcing a New Anthology of Essays on Mormon Literature”
I have a question for you, Scott. One of the more interesting aspects of Tending the Garden is that the latter half of the book is made up of essays that fall under the category of “postmodern theory”. Even by the time I was reading them in the late ’90s (the collection was published in 1996) , they felt outdated. Still interesting and of value but not quite as useful as a young Mormon wannabe literary critic would want them to be. And this even though I was/am interested in postmodern criticism.
It sounds like you’re taking a much more wide-ranging approach. Is that true? If so, what, as of right now, do you feel a lack of?
I am taking a much more wide-ranging approach with this project, but I think my selection of texts will have less to do with -isms and more to do with capturing a useful and usable cross-section of the last twenty years of Mormon literary thought. I don’t anticipate having trouble finding theoretical essays on making Mormon literature; however, I do think we lack polished criticism of individual texts.
My hope is that the new anthology will be helpful for both creative writers and literary critics. I hope that it will update the vocabulary we use to talk about Mormon literature. And I hope that it will encourage more people to engage and develop the field.
I’ve got a couple of my own essays I plan to submit, Scott. I’m interested: what review process is in place for new submissions? And can authors have multiple essays included? (Should my multiple submissions make the cut, of course…)
Also: do you have Jack Harrell’s recent BYU Studies article, “Toward a Mormon Literary Theory,” on your list of possible inclusions?
Two more questions: what citation style do you want authors to use? Are you going to work with authors to prepare promising manuscripts for publication?
To answer Tyler’s questions:
1) I plan to review every submission personally and work with authors to get accepted essays publication-ready. I also plan to have an advisory board in place at that time to assist in the selection process as needed.
2) Authors can have multiple essays included.
3) Jack’s essay will be considered–as will the others he’s written.
4) I assume most essays will come to me in MLA format. For the recent Dorian project, individual essay authors picked which citation style they wanted to use, and I think that worked fine. For this project, though, I want a consistent style throughout the volume–and it will be either MLA or Chicago. You can submit an essay using whatever style you want, but you may be asked to change it later.