Conference Books — Spring 2013

I should probably keep in mind, as I prepare this summary of the works cited in each Conference, that the custom of including footnotes listing the source documents for statements made in a text is relatively recent, and depends a lot on the preferences of the speaker and the expectations of the audience. Fifty years ago these footnotes were extremely unusual and 100 years ago they were unheard of.

Not that the discourses of 50 or 100 years ago didn’t include references to other works. They did, the custom just wasn’t to put that information in footnotes. The items from General Conference in my Sunday Literary Criticism Sermon series makes that clear.

Even today conference talks sometimes mention works that aren’t included in the footnotes. Continue reading “Conference Books — Spring 2013”

Mormon Literature 100 Years Ago — 1912

0---RidersIn counterpoint to Andrew Hall’s now 12-year-old annual review of Mormon Literature[fn1] (the first part of the latest edition appeared last week), I thought it might give some perspective to look at what Mormon Literature looked like 100 years ago. Boy have we come a long way!!

Unfortunately, I was only able to look at the books published in 1912, not items in periodicals, because the periodicals aren’t available online, except for a few cases[fn2]. The periodicals also require significantly more work to pull out the literary items. I hope to get through many of the periodicals sometime this year — and if I do this again next year, I’ll try to include periodicals from the start.

Continue reading “Mormon Literature 100 Years Ago — 1912”

A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Commercial LDS Publishing Begins

The fourth of eight posts and an introduction. See also Part III, Part II, Part I, Introduction

The arrival of the transcontinental railroad to Utah in 1869 marked the end of a period of relative isolation for the LDS Church. It also came just at the end of a period of almost no Mormon publishing in Utah and the United States. Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Commercial LDS Publishing Begins”

Conference Books — Fall 2008

Book cover of
Book cover via Amazon

After the interest shown in the list of books I prepared last week — the books mentioned or referenced in April 2008 General Conference, I went ahead and prepared a list for the current (October 2008) Conference also.

I found this list even more interesting. There are more books on this list (some 35 — it makes me wonder if I didn’t miss some material from the April Conference), and the variety of the books and the material cited is fascinating. The list wanders from Thoreau to The Little Prince and includes the somewhat obscure as well as the famous.

Looking over a list like this, I have to wonder a lot about what writing process General Authorities use in preparing their discourses.

Continue reading “Conference Books — Fall 2008”

Citations Exhibiting the Most Prominent Reading…

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 31: The Mormon Tabe...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Since last General Conference I’ve been meaning to look at the books mentioned in each Conference, just to see what items General Authorities think fit to mention. I’ve finally managed to complete my look at last conference, and I’m starting to look at this conference. The list is, I think, interesting. Continue reading “Citations Exhibiting the Most Prominent Reading…”

On Fish and Ponds

A picture of a pond in a residential garden.

Most Mormon books, music and film are like little fish in a pond. Fortunately, consumers of these Mormon products face the same situation.

I think the idea behind the metaphor of fish in little or big ponds is something students face as they approach graduation and start trying to find some kind of success in the world. Students have to decide what kind of success they are aiming for: do they want to be big fish in a little pond? or little fish in a big pond? Are they content to be important in a small company or a cog in a large company?

Of course there are myriad ways of applying this metaphor to life. It points out an important issue in life and in human culture: how we define the scope of our efforts and even our success. It is usually possible to influence how large a fish we become. But changing the size of the pond is generally quite difficult. [There is a kind of corollary to this on the sign at BYU’s entrance, where it reads “The World is our Campus.” At least when I was there we joked that it should say “The Campus is our World;” a truism in that it is impossible to maintain such a grandiose scope.]

So how does this all work with Mormon products? Are Mormon products trying to find their audience in a small pond or a big pond? Should I move between ponds? And is it possible to be available in both small and big ponds?
Continue reading “On Fish and Ponds”