Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

College and University Courses on Latter-day Saint Arts

Would you like to teach a course on Latter-day Saint arts in a college or university?  Do you need assistance with reading or approach?  We would like to help.

The Center is assembling examples of college syllabi as an aid to teachers who are contemplating a course on Latter-day Saint art.

Issues and Themes in the Visual Arts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 The purpose of this course is to examine some of the issues and themes in the visual arts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from its restoration in 1830 to the current day, as well as to explore the position of Latter-Day Saint artwork within the wider historical and cultural context of western art history.

Each of the thirteen units will interrogate the assumptions in this purpose statement.  There are many unanswered questions: What is Latter-Day Saint art? Who makes it? Who has the right to label an artist or an artwork as Latter-Day Saint?  Is it appropriate to categorize artists and artworks according to religion? The attempt to categorize or interpret artists by a single trait, such as race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, risks flattening and simplifying their artwork.  Worse still, artists who are sorted into such subgroups are rarely considered within the wider historical and cultural context of their time and among the full range of their artistic peers.  Students should remember this throughout the course, which attempts to consider the problem of “Latter-Day Saint art” from many different angles and perspectives.

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Saints & Cinema: Mormons, Modernity, and Moving Images

This course is designed around the concept of Latter-day Saint cinema as a "minor literature," constructed within a major language. In this sense, Latter-day Saint motion pictures can be seen as showcasing and shaping religious practice, belief, identity, and culture within the major and established language of cinema. From its earliest years cinema became a site to debate the prospect of fitting Mormons into the modern world. Could it also facilitate the modernization of Mormons? With an increasing awareness of public image and the medium's potential, Latter-day Saints entered the public sphere of cinema to express their worldview. As it did for other minority groups, cinema offered Saints opportunities to celebrate, critique, and work through their culture and religious tradition.

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Devotional Poetry

This class will survey the development of a strong tradition of devotional poetry in the Anglophone tradition, and discover its application in and influence on Mormon literature. We will begin our conversation with a brief introduction to the genre’s earliest expressions in the hymns of ancient Greece and Rome and of the Bible, and its development in early Christian lyrics. We will discover how medieval Scholastics used poetry to augment affectively their intellectual engagements with Christianity, which together would govern the later expansion of lyric poetry in English, both secular and sacred. Shaped both by the generic fashions of continental literature and the upheavals in continental theology, the devotional lyric in English sees an unprecedented efflorescence during the Reformation and post-Reformation eras, and establishes this mode of poetic writing as central to the literary landscape. This seminal period codifies the conventions and expectations of the devotional lyric, and influences its development for the succeeding centuries up until the present day.

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Religion, Media & Culture: An Introductory Survey

What role does media play in the construction of religious identity in America? Inspired by the Harvard Religious Literacy Initiative (RLI), this course considers how journalism, film, television, and social media influence American perceptions of religion. Based on America’s significant daily consumption of screen content, media "may well be the primary site where Americans encounter other religions.”[1] For this reason, American audiences need be equipped to critically analyze religious representations in the media. Using a cultural studies approach introduced by Stuart Hall, this class will examine media producers, text, and audiences. What are the motivations, intentions, and backgrounds of the producers and publishers? Do the media narratives, themes, and characters reinforce religious stereotypes or challenge them? How are religious complexities, controversies, and sacred beliefs portrayed? Do audiences accept or reject the intended message? As a case study, this class will survey a range of media produced about, by, and/or for Mormons. 

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Would you like to teach a course on Latter-day Saint arts in a college or university?

Would you like to teach a course on Latter-day Saint arts in a college or university?  Do you need assistance with reading or approach?  Here are examples to help you get started. 

The course outlines also serve everyone as guides to reading from experts in the field.

If you are a teacher or a scholar, consider submitting a syllabus of your own for posting on this site.

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