CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Mormons and Modernism

Mormons and Modernism:

Modernism, Secularism — and the Mormon Response?

Thinkers as diverse as Charles Taylor, Marcel Gauchet, John Milbank, Mark Lilla, and Louis Dupré have written about the origins of the modern period—the radical change in thought and society from the medieval period to the modern that occurred gradually and culminated in the sixteenth century. Modernism brought us the renaissance, modern science, the birth of the modern state and democracy, as well as, ultimately, what Nietzsche called “the death of God.” In the twentieth century, questions arose about modernism, such as “How should we understand its grand narratives?” and “What have been its costs to human being?” Recognizing both modernism’s difficulties and achievements, if we cannot think against or beyond modernism, can with think within it?
This seminar for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and not-yet tenured faculty will explore the emergence of modernism and its eventuation in what is often called “postmodern” thought. We will ask if Mormon thought should be understood as part of or in contrast to modernism. Do we have any unique responses to the issues that arise? James E. Faulconer (Professor of Philosophy, BYU) will direct.
The seminar will run weekdays from 11 through 29 July (except for 25 July, a state holiday). It is sponsored by the Wheatley Institution, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, where it will be held.
Participants will receive a weekly stipend of $500 and may receive help with housing and travel, depending on circumstances.
To apply, please send a short vita and a one-page letter explaining your interest in the seminar topic to Please include the names of two persons who could recommend you.
We encourage minority applicants, and especially applicants from outside the US.
Application deadline is February 15, 2016.

2 comments for “CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Mormons and Modernism

  1. Thanks for the post. A part of me would be interested in participating in the conference, but alas, I think that they are being far too selective. They are asking for far more pre-screening than the average academic conference. Which makes me think: is this a means of trying to root out potential “rabble-rousers,” in other words non-believers, without just spelling it out in the form of “no non-believers allowed”? If so, then it is not a serious academic conference. True academic conferences should be willing to engage all well-researched ideas, not just the ones that coincide with, or at least don’t directly challenge, the beliefs and attitudes of the LDS church leaders. And why can’t they just evaluate applications on the merit of a proposal and a CV? Why do applicants need to provide academic referrals? I mean, it’s a two week (which seems extremely long) conference for crying out loud, not a job. And why a letter explaining interest in the academic conference and not an abstract or proposal? Are those to be included in the letter of interest?

    At any rate, modernity appears to have had a similar effect on Mormon as it has had on other religions, in that it has forced the leaders and adherents of Mormonism to compromise many of their beliefs and assertions about nature and to change the direction of their discourse to emphasize ideas that appear more compatible with science, logic, and reasoning and to deemphasize the traditional superstitious and folkloric beliefs of the adherents and leaders of yore. In other words, because the forces of modernity have altered the culture of the adherents in the core, leaders and apologists (especially the latter) often appear to be willing to throw Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other early church leaders under the bus when convenient.

  2. Brad L, it’s not a conference, but a several-weeks-long seminar. It comes with a stipend and covers living costs. That certainly merits scrutiny.

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