Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Clean Dramatic Amusements

josephf1One of the notable aspects of early Mormon statements about entertainment and media is the focus on discouraging the reading of novels and “light” literature, while other forms of entertainment, notably theatre, were encouraged. Brigham Young acted in Nauvoo, encouraged the early performances in Salt Lake City as early as 1853, and even promoted plays and attended the theatre himself.  He announced the construction of the Salt Lake Theatre and vigorously pursued its construction until its completion in 1861.

However, by the turn of the century, Church leaders were also warning members about the theatre, as well as the nascent film industry.

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Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Rosannah C. Irvine on Mormon Literature

tkts-boothEarlier this week I spent an hour or so waiting in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square to get tickets for friends who wanted to see a Broadway play. As I waited in line, the TKTS staff (volunteer actors, as I understand it) were giving their recommendations and summaries of popular shows to the tourists waiting in line who were not sure what to see–usually after asking questions to see what kind of expectations the tourist had. I was very tempted to ask the staff what to see if you hate musicals and like plays that make you think.

Fortunately, my friends did not have those expectations, and getting tickets to a show was possible.

The reaction we have toward works of literature is usually determined by what expectations we have of it. If we read B. H. Roberts’ Corianton with the expectation of something like All The King’s Men, we are bound to be quite disappointed. But if we expect something comparable to Ben Hur, we might actually enjoy Corianton a little. In this week’s “sermon,” long-time Relief Society General Board member Rosannah Cannon Irvine hints at this question of expectations while suggesting that there is a lot to like in Mormon literature.

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