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Imagining the Saints: Representations of Mormonism in American Culture

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/13007

Imagining the Saints: Representations of Mormonism in American Culture

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dc.contributor.author Ricketts, Jeremy R.
dc.date.accessioned 2011-08-19T21:39:17Z
dc.date.issued 2011-08-19
dc.date.submitted May 2011
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1928/13007
dc.description.abstract The purpose of this dissertation is to address how representations of Mormons in American culture reveal not only key aspects of the history of Mormonism in America but also tell us a great deal about American life and thought since the founding of the religion in 1830 to the present day (2011). Representations are powerful vehicles for creating, shaping, reflecting, and naturalizing society’s understanding of religious institutions and revealing cultural concerns and anxieties, and the methodology of this dissertation thus focuses on interdisciplinary analytical critiques of diverse texts to better elucidate the complicated but deeply intertwined history of the Mormon experience in the United States. I have pursued an interdisciplinary line of inquiry that interrogated how the Latter-day Saints have come to form a communal identity and how non-Mormons have understood and represented Mormons as well as the cultural implications of such representations. The findings of this study indicate that throughout their history, Mormons have often been imagined as an Other by producers of cultural texts in such a way that set them apart. Mormons have also portrayed themselves as a distinct people. But even more significant is how these diverse imaginings reflect American cultural beliefs and values. Both LDS and non-LDS Americans throughout history have had their own particular anxieties and concerns, and in many cases used Mormonism to address those issues. Cultural representations of Mormonism are important because they are tied into a larger history and a greater narrative about American hopes and dreams, about citizenship and belonging. The ebb and flow of anti-Mormonism and more positive representations says a great deal about the national character and the politics of belonging in a religiously pluralistic nation. This study untangles the formation of Mormon identity and the story of Mormonism in America by intervening in a dialogue about how the Saints have imagined themselves, and particularly how others have imagined them. The tension seen in pro- and anti-Mormon representations has shaped people’s perceptions of the Latter-day Saints and revealed pressing undercurrents in American society. The result of all these Mormon, ex-Mormon, and non-Mormon examples not only gives us an understanding of how Americans imagine Mormons today, but also gives important insights into United States’ society and culture for the past 181 years. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Mormons, Mormonism, Representations of Mormonism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Mormonism in mass media
dc.subject.lcsh Mormon Church--United States--Public opinion
dc.subject.lcsh Mass media and culture--United States
dc.subject.lcsh Religion and culture--United States
dc.title Imagining the Saints: Representations of Mormonism in American Culture en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
dc.description.degree American Studies en_US
dc.description.level Doctoral en_US
dc.description.department University of New Mexico. Dept. of American Studies en_US
dc.description.advisor Schreiber, Rebecca
dc.description.committee-member Melendez, Gabriel
dc.description.committee-member Lubin, Alex
dc.description.committee-member Beaman, Lori
emb.embargo.terms 2017-05-14
emb.embargo.lift 2017-05-14


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