As an object of study, religion has been reborn in American universities. When my own discipline of history recently announced religion as the largest subspecialty for historians working in the United States, it conﬁrmed what many of us had experienced anecdotally: religion continues to thrive in modern American life, and scholars are growing increasingly attuned to its signiﬁcance in the past and present. This phenomenon has had profound implications for the study of Mormonism. As scholars have grown more and more sophisticated in their study of religion, and as it has assumed a more prominent place in many disciplines, academic interest in Mormonism has ﬂowered correspondingly. And when the public spotlight ﬁnds its way to prominent Mormons or to the growth and institutional inﬂuence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scholars and pundits alike crave understanding of the faith.
While the various “Mormon moments” ebb and ﬂow on political or popular culture tides, a growing number of academic institutions have ensured that the study of Mormonism is represented on campus. Programs or endowed chairs in Mormon studies at Utah Valley University, Utah State University, Claremont Graduate University, the University of Utah, and the University of Virginia stand as telling symbols of these developments. Latter-day Saints may have a special interest in these advances, to be sure, but the academic study of the faith communities related to Joseph Smith, in all their variety and complexity, now stands apart from any one church’s purview.
The Mormon Studies Review proposes to track what is now a vibrant, varied, and international academic engagement with Mormon institutions, lives, ideas, texts, and stories.