CFP: Contemporary Depictions of Mormons and Mormonism (7/1/07; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Decker Mark T
contact email: 

Peculiar Portrayals: Contemporary Depictions of Mormons and Mormonism
on the Page, the Stage, and the Screen

Mormons often refer to themselves as a "peculiar people," implying that
their devotion to their faith and the unique truth of their gospel set
them apart from the rest of the world. Most people, however, simply
find Mormons peculiar. Much evidence of this popular perception can be
found in contemporary literary and filmic depictions of Mormons and
Mormonism. Both Allen Drury's Advise and Consent and Tony Kushner's
Angels in America focus on politically dangerous Mormon characters whose
religion has turned them into hypocrites. Lighter entertainment
sometimes features Mormon characters best described as absurdist, such
as the missionary-turned-porn-star in Orgazmo. And while Big Love's
portrayal of polygamist and businessman Bill Henrickson is sympathetic,
the show's appeal rests heavily upon its creation of a fundamentalist
Mormon suburban surrealism. Even authors who have a Mormon upbringing
often create peculiar Mormon characters, such as the sometime-Mormon
main character of Brady Udall's The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, who
finds his life permanently altered when the postman runs over his head,
or the comic protagonist of Walter Kirn's Thumbsucker, who turns to
Mormonism as one of several substitutes for his obsessive thumb sucking.


Yet while peculiar Mormon characters have haunted the contemporary
popular imagination, there have been few attempts to interrogate this
cultural phenomenon. This proposed collection seeks to explore the
rhetorical and political uses contemporary writers have made of their
peculiar Mormon characters. Possible topics include, but are not
limited to:


* Queer sexuality and Mormonism
* Mormonism, polygamy, and patriarchy=20
* Mormons and Mormonism and political conservatism=20
* Mormons as a stereotyped ethnic group
* Mormonism in conversation with contemporary spirituality
* Mormons and Mormonism in genre fiction
* Mormons and the American middle class


Finished essays will be between 4,500 and 6,500 words long, including
notes and references. Essays that focus on texts created primarily for a
Mormon audience will not be considered for inclusion in this proposed


Please submit a 500 word abstract in the body of an email to Michael
Austin at or Mark Decker at by
July 1, 2007

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Received on Thu May 17 2007 - 15:28:08 EDT