Depicting A Mormon Moment: Mormon Characters and Mormon Authors in American Popular Culture. Call for Chapters (1 February 14)

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Decker and Michael Austin
contact email: 
mdecker@bloomu.edu; austinm@newmanu.edu

When Mitt Romney captured the Republican presidential nomination, news outlets such as Time, CNN, and the Huffington Post had already begun to talk about a “Mormon Moment” in the United States. At the same time that the Romney campaign focused the nation’s attention on the LDS Church, a variety of media forces combined to spread the Mormon Moment across the culture. Between Romney’s entrance into the 2008 presidential campaign and the present, The Book of Mormon became a Broadway hit, Big Love concluded its run, Cody Brown moved his complicated family to Las Vegas, and Brady Udall wrote another well-received novel about Mormon oddballs. And Mormon writers treating a variety of subjects—most of them not explicitly Mormon—have become more popular than they have ever been. Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novels and their film adaptations became phenomenally popular while causing many to wonder if Bella and Edward’s romance has Mormon inflections. Shortly, the release of the big-budget movie adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel Ender’s Game will bring increased scrutiny to Card’s politics and religious commitments.

While pundits and political scientists can – and should – opine about the political implications of Romney’s Mormon Moment, the cultural Mormon Moment deserves its own investigation. Consequently, this volume will explore what this fascination with Mormon characters and Mormon authors says about American culture. Specific questions might include:

• Does critical preoccupation with an author’s Mormonism create the perception of a Mormon text, or are Mormon authors employing Mormon themes to reach an unsuspecting mass audience?
• What do “reality” programs about polygamist families say about contemporary gender relations? About the concept of family in a postmodern society?
• How do portrayals of Mormons compare to portrayals of other religious groups? Are audiences genuinely interested in understanding Mormon culture, or are Mormon characters best understood in symbolic terms that are largely disconnected from the lived Mormon experience?
• Are Mormon texts inherently conservative? Does an interest in Mormon characters represent a nostalgia for or fascination with more conservative eras in American history?
• Were there earlier Mormon Moments in American cultural history? Do these earlier texts presage the current interest in Mormons, or are they best understood in their own historical context?

The editors encourage submissions from a variety of theoretical perspectives concerning texts that portray Mormons or texts that were written or created by people who self-present as engaged Mormons. Preference will be given to proposals dealing with texts designed to reach a broad audience. Discussions of texts created for a Mormon audience will not be considered unless a strong argument for crossover appeal is made.

Timeline:
1 February 2014: Deadline for proposals (500 words).
1 April 2014: Editors will notify authors whose proposals were selected for inclusion.
1 June 2015: Deadline for receiving book chapters from authors of selected proposals. Chapters should be no shorter than 6000 words and no longer than 15,000 words including documentation. Editors will help authors determine appropriate length for individual chapters.

Proposals should be sent to both editors as a Microsoft Word, Pages, or rich text document attached to an email. Contact information below:
Mark Decker (Bloomsburg University) mdecker@bloomu.edu
Michael Austin (Newman University) austinm@newmanu.edu

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
film_and_television
general_announcements
journals_and_collections_of_essays
popular_culture
religion
theatre