From Embrace to Erase
Friday and Saturday, October 25-26, 2019
Hunter Conference Center
Southern Utah University
Cedar City, Utah

The “Mormon” moniker has become a symbol of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ changing organizational norms, shifting identity, technological innovations, and these factors’ reflection in media studies. To wit, the church has entered into a period of renewed international media coverage and attention by scholars, especially since the beginning of church prophet Russell M. Nelson’s presidency in January 2018.

During this time, the church has officially released numerous newsworthy announcements, including the opening of the Rome Temple, removing of restrictions on baptisms on children of LGBTQ parents, alteration of Sunday church worship services and temple worship, the discontinuation of large church-sponsored pageants and its affiliation with Boy Scouts of America, a new structure of priesthood quorums, and changed eligibility for children to participate in young men and young women’s classes. One of the announcements in particular garnered outsized media attention and discussion: the reiteration by church leaders of the official name of the church, while clearly repudiating the “Mormon” moniker.

In 2019, the Latter-day Saints and Media Symposium aims to explore the ways in which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is adapting to the media-saturated environment, while also exploring how news media and other forms of communication are adapting to the church’s repositioning of identity including similar historical “from embrace to erase” efforts from the beginning of the church in 1830.

Submission of Paper and Panel Proposals

Academics, professionals, and students are invited to submit competitive papers or panel proposals about any aspect of Latter-day Saints and the media. Papers and panels may be broadly interdisciplinary; international perspectives are strongly encouraged; all rigorous scholarly methodological frameworks and theories are welcome.

Submissions should be either full papers (preferred; approx. 6,000–8,000 words, with 100-word abstract) or extended abstracts (approx. 500 words). Proposals for audio and/or visual presentations (including short films) with rigorous analysis are welcome. Papers recently presented or published elsewhere may be considered (please provide details). Proposals for panel discussions with related research papers are also welcome.

Examples of topics include but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of media content by or about Latter-day Saints (textual, rhetorical, thematic, etc.) in various cultures

  • Media produced by the institutional church or church members (contemporary, historical, international, etc.): Internet, social media, newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, film, etc.

  • Content, producers, and effects of recent and historical depictions of Latter-day Saints in news and popular culture, particularly from sources outside the institutional church and from non-Latter-day Saints.

  • Latter-day Saints, media & politics, U.S. and international

  • Latter-day Saint media uses and effects, including social media

  • Latter-day Saint media images and depictions (contemporary & historical)

  • Concepts of voice, identity, and community in media by or about Latter-day Saints.

  • Content and effects of institutional church public relations, advertising, messaging

  • Audience studies: meaning-making, effects, responses, influences, behavior and attitudinal changes

  • Institutional church perspectives on media: responses and effects

  • Latter-day Saints as media creators, producers, publishers, inventors, disseminators, editors, writers, etc.; or others in these categories who have produced media or content related to Latter-day Saints as both subject and audience.

  • Latter-day Saint-related film, TV programming, reality show participation, etc.

  • Comparative studies (church members and media as compared to other religions or institutions)

  • Historical, sociological, literary, rhetorical, legal, international, psychological, etc. perspectives on Latter-day Saints and media

  • Latter-day Saint-related entertainment, theater, music, and popular culture productions

THE DANIEL STOUT AWARD will be presented with a $500 prize for the top faculty paper entry.

SHERRY BAKER AWARD will be presented with a $500 prize for the top student paper entry.

Papers presented at the symposium will be given special consideration, at authors’ discretion, for publication in the Journal of Media and Religion.

How to Submit?

Paper, panel, and presentation proposals must be submitted by August 1, 2019 in Word or PDF format as an email attachment to . If you have questions you can call or text Joel Campbell at (801) 362-4298

Joel Campbell, independent scholar, Provo, Utah
Scott Church, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Lane Williams, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Rexburg
Ben Whisenant, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Sherry Baker, emeritus, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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