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”

Randy Astle on film criticism and Mormon film

I’m late in saying this, but it still should be said: if you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading Randy Astle’s presentation from the November 2010 Mormon Media Studies symposium. What Randy does is take a look at the major schools of film criticism and then propose the method he thinks is most amenable to a Mormon worldview *and* that a Mormon worldview can enrich as a theory of how film operates. I don’t want to discourage readers from clicking through to his presentation so I won’t reveal what that is, but I will quote what he has to say about the importance of criticism.

He writes:

Spencer W. Kimball’s “The Gospel Vision of the Arts” is admittedly ubiquitous in discussions of Mormon art and media, and it is usually cited for his predictions of remarkable future accomplishments, for instance that Mormon-themed “masterpieces should run for months in every movie theater, cover every part of the globe in the tongue of the people, written by great artists, purified by the best critics.” But while LDS filmmakers, in this case, have reason to rejoice in this prophetic benediction, it is my firm belief that the most important point is the final one, that the best critics must purify our films and, by extension, other media.

Mine too.

My personal favorite AMV posts (at the moment)

In the spirit of egalitarianism and celebration and self-promotion and just plain awesomeness, I bring you my personal favorite posts from each AMV contributor as of right now but subject to change based on the whims and vagaries native to the benevolent dictator that I am and in alphabetical order by first name because I can’t be bothered to remember who joined when or maybe it’s so I can have the final word although really when do I not have the final word, and also there’s no reason to read too much in to my selections because see the use of the words whims and vagaries earlier in this sentence so if I were to do the same thing next week it could look totally different, and you never know — maybe I will:

  1. Admin: Bradly Baird on the artifacts of LDS memory
  2. Anneke Majors: Minerva Red
  3. Eric Russell:  In Defense of the Critics
  4. Eric Thompson: Half Faked
  5. Harlow Clark: Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon, Introduction to Textual Variants Part IV
  6. Jonathan Langford:
  7. Katherine Morris: “Bread of Affliction” and Cultural Self-Consciousness
  8. Kent Larsen: Why we need Mormon Culture
  9. Laura Craner: Beware Brother Brigham (a review of the book by D. Michael Martindale)
  10. Mahonri Stewart: Of Prophets and Artists: A Household of Faith Or A House Divided?
  11. Patricia Karamesines: The Rhetoric of Stealing God
  12. S.P. Bailey: The Things We Bring Home
  13. Theric Jepson: The Hero’s Journey of the Mormon Arts
  14. Tyler Chadwick: The Tragic Tell of Mormon Morality, Part IV
  15. William Morris: Damn you Norman Manea!

Feel free to get all nostalgic and hagiographic in the comments. To peruse our archives by date or category, click on the drop down menus over there on the left. Or to see what each contributor has written, click on Contributors and the “posts” link next to his or her name.

Two events and three cool links

Or as I was tempted to call it: apropos of everything.

Father in Israel screening March 25

An advance screening of Christian Vuissa’s film “Father in Israel” will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at the Megaplex 8 at Thanksgiving Point. Click here for details. The film’s theatrical release is planned for this fall.

“Little Happy Secrets” March 19-23 in Provo

The New Play Projects production of Melissa Leilani Larson’s play “Little Happy Secrets” opens tonight. You can . Larson bills her play as being “about a young woman coming to terms with her homosexuality without compromising her LDS faith.”

Menachem Wecker on a staging of “My Name is Asher Lev”

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on art and religion at Iconia, wrote a review earlier this month for The Jewish Press of a staging of Chaim Potok’s novel “My Name is Asher Lev.” I thought that this would be of interest to AMV’s readers because of Potok’s popularity in the world of Mormon letters, but even more I’m linking to it because it’s an excellent piece of criticism. Continue reading “Two events and three cool links”

MormonTimes on the LDS Film Festival

The beautiful thing about the mainstream media is that when it decides to cover a story, it has the people and resources to do so (and strict deadlines). Here’s a round up of coverage of the LDS Film Festival:

Mormon films: walking a fine line — A report on a panel discussion at the festival moderated by AMV’s own Katherine Morris.

Award-winner altering movie scene with uplifting films — a profile of director and producer Rick Stevenson.

LDS Film Festival award ceremony — “Director Kristal Williams-Rowley came in first in the short films category, receiving a trophy and a $2,000 cash prize for her film “Mind the Gap.” The 16-minute drama features a teenage girl who has to cope with the grief that both she and her father encounter as a result of his job.”

More Mormon Times coverage here.

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”