I was over at Amazon.com the other day, trying to figure out someplace to post about my book in the Mormon community. I mean, I was able to find a couple of places to post in the Gay etc. community. Surely there ought to be a place to post in the Mormon community.
Except, not. Oh, sure, there’s a lot of activity over there, but it all really seems to amount to people screaming at each other about whether LDS doctrines and practices are justified. Which, okay, fine, if that’s your thing. Except that it’s really not mine — the whole virtual-shouting-at-people thing, I mean — and, hello? I think of Amazon.com as an online bookstore, not an online debating club. So how about some talk about books here, people?
AMV bloggers and friends are taking part in two interesting Mormon literature events this week, and I invite all our readers to participate as well.
LDS Publisher contest
Voting recently opened in LDS Publisher’s Book of Mormon Story Contest. The contest features young adult fiction stories with a Book of Mormon setting by both published and unpublished authors. Theric Jepson and I both submitted entries as did AMV reader/commenter David J. West. A few other AMV readers may also have participated (if so, let us know in the comments). And no, we aren’t going to tell which stories are ours — that’s against the rules.
Now, you may be asking yourself: do I really want to wade through 26 pieces of fiction (16 if you just read and vote for the published authors)? Probably not, but you should anyway — some stories are better than others, but all of them are interesting in how the engage with the Book of Mormon.
AML Annual Meeting
The Association for Mormon Letters will hold its annual meeting this Saturday, Feb. 27, at Utah Valley University Library in Orem. The theme of the program is “”˜One Eternal Round’: Mormon Literature Past, Present, and Future” and AMVers Tyler Chadwick, Harlow Clark, Patricia Karamesines and Katherine Morris will all be presenting. So will other folks whose names should be familiar to our readers — in particular: Lisa Tait, Ardis Parshall, Gideon Burton, Angela Hallstrom, Lee Allred and James Goldberg. If you are within driving distance, you should go — not only because of the interesting presentations and excellent company, but also because the meeting will feature a rare screening of the 1931 film “Corianton: A Story of Unholy Love.”
Right now, Chris Bigelow and I are collaborating on a volume tentatively titled “The Latter-Day Saint Family Encyclopdia,” which will be published this fall by Thunder Bay Press and sold fairly widely. As you might imagine, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to write a good, meaty entry on Mormon literature. Chris has posted my draft over on the AML blog website. We’d like to invite you all to review it and post comments and suggestions. We can’t let this entry get any longer, but we can certainly refine what’s here. Thanks in advance for your help!
What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.
The annual meeting of the Association for Mormon Letters will take place 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the library at Utah Valley University in Orem. Attendance is free — although if you want to attend the luncheon, it’ll cost you $12 and you should either R.S.V.P. today if you want to pay at the door or (no deadline given, but I’d imagine the sooner the better so they can get a count to the food service provider).
Terryl Givens will be the keynote speaker. Several people have asked in different venues* what time he is going to speak, perhaps suggesting that there may be a coterie of Givens admires out there who will show up for his keynote and then ditch the rest of the day. Please don’t. I know Saturdays are precious, but it’s always lame when people show up for the main event and then ditch out on the other presenters. Part of the point of a big draw is provide energy to the rest of the day.**
Also: Who is planning on attending? Unsurprisingly, I won’t be there. I promise, though, that if I ever do make it, I will announce it here weeks in advance and that there will be some sort of Grand Tour, and that I will be asking for places to crash and chauffeurs and free meals and all that.
* I’m not accusing any of those who have asked of anything — but the fact of asking raised the suspicion in my mind that some folks might have ditching inclinations.
** My apologies to the AML for this post. They’re a gracious bunch, and I’m sure they’ll welcome everyone — even those who can’t stay. And really, it’s best to ignore a rabble rouser, layabout and blogger like me.
Irreantum 9.2./10.1 is a double issue, containing the fall/winter 2007 and the spring/summer 2008 editions. Edited by Angela Hallstrom, it contains seven pieces of fiction, two critical essays, two creative nonfiction essays, 11 poems and four reviews. It also features art work by Maralise Petersen.
With the abundance of short stories, the two critical essays and especially the original art, this double issue, in my mind, is the closest Irreantum has gotten to becoming the refreed, (utterly) literary journal that it claims it wants to be. These changes culminate a process that began several years ago when Laraine Wilkins took over the reins from Chris Bigelow. I have very mixed feelings about this process — and my reaction was made all the more complicated by the fact that this issue marks my debut in print. Continue reading “A look at Irreantum 9.2/10.1”
When I was a youth, the Church encouraged us as members to engage our friends in conversation about the Church using the Golden Questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? and Where am I going to? My father even had a lapel pin for his suit that was in the shape of a question mark, meant to elicit conversations using these questions.
I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be good to have some similar system to elicit conversations about Mormon Culture and literature.
In part one, I discussed the terms LDS and Mormon and why various sectors of the field of LDS/Mormon culture choose to self-identify with one term or the other or use both — either interchangeably or to mean different things. I also drew some very blurred, porous lines between LDS fiction and Mormon fiction.
I thing the best place to begin part two is with a brief, hastily sketched and probably wrong in places history of how Mormon fiction has been defined. Not the whole thing. But the field as it has developed to where it is at today. For a full history of Mormon literature up until the mid-90s, see Eugene England’s “Mormon Literature: Progress and Prospects.”
The field of Mormon fiction as we know it today really begins to take form in the 1970s. In the early ’70s, Richard Cracroft and Neal Lambert created the anthology A Believing People and taught the first course in Mormon literature at BYU. In 1976, the Association for Mormon Letters was formed. Since that time the AML and the Mormon literature courses taught at BYU have been the main producers of work that is about the field of Mormon literature (along with contributions from Dialogue and Sunstone — often written by authors who are also involved in the AML). The AML defined Mormon literature (and thus by extension Mormon fiction) as literature by, for and/or about Mormons.
The AML has always taken a big tent approach to things, considering everything from works published by Deseret Book to Signature to national publishers and works by authors who are active LDS to non-LDS to Jack Mormons to cultural Mormons to those whose religious tradition comes from any one of the off-shoots of Joseph Smith’s prophetic ministry (Community of Christ, for example). However, it has also placed a priority on literary works (although the young adult and speculative fiction genres have always had a strong presence among the people involved and the awards handed out and papers presented by the AML).
“Mormon artists” above refers to artists who seek to live a life of LDS orthodoxy. In keeping with the big tent definition of Mormon literature, A Motley Vision will, at other times, use the term “Mormon artists” in a broader sense to include those, for instance, who identify themselves as cultural Mormons but are not active LDS.
Since then I and my co-bloggers (and commenters) have used the term LDS on this blog 918 times; we have used Mormon 1,240 times (according to a Google site search). I haven’t analyzed my co-bloggers posts, but I tend to use the two terms almost-but-not-always interchangeably.
Others, however, don’t. One of the most interesting things to come out of the brouhaha over Angel Falling Softlyover at LDS Publisher was the idea that LDS fiction is a genre unto itself. I’ll be honest: this label had never really occurred to me. Certainly, I was aware that Deseret Book and Covenant have certain standards (and sometimes double standards) when it comes to what they publish and sell, but it never occurred me to that the term “LDS fiction” applied only to works that would find their way on to the shelves of DB and Seagull. Continue reading “LDS fiction; Mormon fiction (part 1)”