Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Mormon Studies Review


Jennifer Graber


Mormonism, American religion, growth in Mormonism


Two introductory texts on Mormonism have much to offer scholars, like myself, who are not specialists in the tradition yet regularly return to it when teaching undergraduate classes in American religions and American history. Mason’s volume, What Is Mormonism? A Student’s Introduction, focuses on the Latter-day Saints and explores the tradition’s historical development, global expansion, daily practice, and function as a response to existential problems. Howlett and Duffy’s book, Mormonism: The Basics, surveys the Latter-day Saints, the Reorganized Latter Day Saints (RLDS, now Community of Christ),

and fundamentalist groups with an emphasis on Mormon history, relations with non-Mormons, ritual life, and worldwide reach. Both texts respond to the “Mormon moment,” in which the tradition has been represented in presidential elections, Broadway musicals, global sporting competitions, and popular fan fiction. For the nonspecialist professor, they provide useful information, chapters that can be easily integrated into a syllabus, and pedagogical suggestions. The books will prove most useful to teachers when situated within broader developments in the historiography of Mormonism.