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American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 $
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Thomas W. Simpson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628639

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628639.001.0001

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Mormonism Reframed

(p.1) Introduction
American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 

Thomas W. Simpson

University of North Carolina Press

Because nineteenth-century Mormons could never fully realize their separatist dream of building the Kingdom of God in North America, the history of Mormonism has involved highly complex contacts and negotiations with non-Mormons. In their attempts to convert, resist, or appease powerful outsiders, Mormons have engaged in a distinctive dialectic of secrecy and self-disclosure, of esoteric rites and strategic public relations. The result has been an extended process of controlled modernization, the evolution of a dynamic, global faith. This book focuses on a crucial aspect of that process of modernization and evolution: academic migration to the elite universities of the United States, which offered exiled and ambitious Mormons a unique, quasi-sacred cultural space of freedom and dignity. At schools like Johns Hopkins, Penn, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Michigan, Chicago, Stanford, and Berkeley, a rising, influential generation of Mormon women and men would undergo a radical transformation of consciousness and identity. Outsiders became insiders; those on the margins entered the mainstream. This revised cultural and intellectual history of Mormonism sheds light on the emergence and domestication of nineteenth-century Mormon feminism, the evolution of Mormon ethnicity, the development of Mormon intellectual life and anti-intellectualism, and the history of outsiders in American higher education.

Keywords:   Mormonism, Mormon History, Higher Education, Academic Freedom, Religious Authority, Religious Identity, Gender, Race, Whiteness, Diversity in Higher Education

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