2011 Neal A. Maxwell Institute Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture

The Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture


Brigham Young University

July 11 – August 19, 2011

In the summer of 2011, the Neal A Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and junior faculty on “The Gold Plates as Cultural Artifact.”  The seminar will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, from July 11 to August 19.  Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3000 with an accommodations subsidy if needed.  The seminar continues the series of seminars on Mormon culture begun in the summer of 1997.

The seminar will be conducted by Richard Bushman, Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University, and Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond.

The seminar will consider the gold plates as a cultural object situated in various environments ranging from the Book of Mormon to modern popular culture. From the beginning the plates have fascinated disbelievers as well as believers. They have sparked ongoing research and debate and still figure in Mormon song, story, and art. The plates take their place alongside a host of sacred objects that figure in the world’s religious imagination and stand in a long tradition of recovered lost records. The seminar will ask how cultural meanings have attached themselves to the gold plates in these various environments and what the plates mean today.

Each participant will be asked to prepare a paper on some aspect of the plates’ cultural history for presentation in a public symposium in the final week. Applicants are welcomed from the fields of history, literature, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, philosophy and other humanistic and social scientific fields. Graduate students at any level of preparation are eligible. Junior faculty are also invited to apply.

If you are interested in applying, more information about the seminar, the application deadlines and requirements, as well as contact information can be found in the full announcement here. Applications for the seminar can be found here.


  1. So cool. Thanks, BCC for the notice.

  2. Interesting for many reasons. The Gold Plates are probably the most controversial artefact but they are also the most essential to proving Joseph Smith’s truth claims. The post-Mormon community will be quick to scoff at this, but I want to see what the scholarly reaction is. I’m inclined to doubt that junior professors who are not from BYU will participate. The scholarly world at large quietly ignores work like this — they don’t want to drag FARMS or the Maxwell Institute down, but they also don’t give them any attention. I wonder if this is an effort to gain broader credibility?

    I will be very interested to read the results of the symposium, and see what sort of balance exists between faith-promoting and scientific work.

  3. As a non-BYU junior prof, I now feel a need to apply.

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