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 readings or approach?  We would like to help.

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

Religion, Media & Culture: An Introductory Survey

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I. Course Overview

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 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The course objective is for students to be able to analyze the role of media producers, content, and audiences in the construction of a Latter-day Saint cultural identity. In order to accomplish this goal, students must also gain some knowledge of the religion’s history, beliefs, and practices. 

For nearly two centuries, Americans have been both captivated and outraged by Latter-day Saints, a faith considered to be outside the American mainstream. Media depictions of Latter-day Saints over the decades have ranged from pejorative to praiseworthy. These portrayals have influenced not only the public perception of Latter-day Saints, but also Latter-day Saints themselves. The Church of Jesus Christ offers an excellent case study of how a new religious identity becomes constructed under the influences of media, politics, and religious pluralism. In this class, we will explore key themes pertaining to media and Latter-day Saints including theology, gender & sexuality, and religious versus state authority. A study of these themes will allow us to explore two meaningful questions raised by the Harvard RLI project. “On the one hand, what role does media play in the ongoing process by which religious groups claim a place as “American”? On the other hand, what role does media play in determining how audiences view other religious groups with regard to dominant notions of American identity?” 

Students will showcase their critical thinking and writing skills in weekly journals, essay exams, and a research paper. Students will also have the opportunity during class discussions to articulate their evaluations of readings and viewings. Drawing on methodologies from religious studies, cultural studies, and media studies, students will explore the changing media landscape and its impact on American perceptions of the Latter-day Saint religion and people.


II. Course Objectives

Students will be able to: 

  • Explain fundamental aspects of Mormon history, doctrine, and ideology. 

  • Articulate the ways in which Mormonism has been portrayed in the media since the nineteenth century. 

  • Think critically about the role of the media in shaping public perceptions of religion.

  • Analyze and discuss the role of media producers, content, and audiences in the construction of a religious identity.

  • Scrutinize and discuss how media frames religious themes, rituals, characters, ethical issues, and moral dilemmas. 

  • Incorporate culturalist methods and theories in writing about religion and media.

  • Conduct original research and analysis on a topic dealing with religion and media.

  • Write critically and incisively on questions dealing with religion and media.  


III. Required Reading

A. Course Text

 Duffy, John-Charles and David J Howlett. Mormonism: The Basics. Routledge, 2017. (Copies also on reserve at library.)  

There are several excellent introductory textbooks on Latter-day Saints (formerly known as Mormons), but none specifically on Latter-day Saints and media. Therefore, the only required textbook for the class is Mormonism: The Basics. This text covers not only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but other branches related to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon as well. Additionally, one of the authors, John-Charles Duffy, has written several essays dealing with Latter-day Saints and media that are assigned reading.

B. Additional Readings 

Readings on Latter-day Saints and media will be covered through academic book chapters and journal articles made available online. Since this is a course on media, assigned readings will also include news articles, church publications, and publications written by both those inside and outside the Church of Jesus Christ. When reading it is important to keep in mind who is writing, the publisher, and the intended audience. 

IV. Course Requirements


  • Attendance & Participation: Read assignments & be prepared to discuss in class.

  • Class Journals: Essays responding to reading homework and media presented in class.

  • Essay Exams: Mid-term and final.

  • Research Paper: a 2,250 to 2,500-word paper consisting of original research and analysis on an aspect of Mormon media

A. Class Attendance & Participation (20% of final grade): 

1. Attendance

You are expected to punctually attend all class sessions. Attendance will be taken; non-attendance and habitual tardiness will negatively impact your grade. Excused absences are given for illness or emergences only (work, class projects, etc. are not reasons for an excused absence), please email me prior to class. If there is a special circumstance that requires you to leave early, please notify me before class. You are allowed one absence with no impact on your grade. More than four unexcused absences will result in a failing grade. Attendance points CAN NOT be made up for any reason other than an excused absence. If you miss a class, please get notes from a fellow student.

Your registration details list your legal name. Please let me know early in the semester if you prefer to be addressed by an alternate name. 

2. Participation  

You must complete all readings and be ready to discuss and/or write about them in class. Together we have a responsibility for maintaining a civil and conducive learning environment. For this reason, please do not use laptops or cell phones during class unless you have a documented need. One study shows that taking notes by hand improves comprehension. Another study indicates that students using laptops in the classroom impair the learning environment for others. Finally, as the lecturer, I am distracted when I notice students multitasking on a laptop rather than engaging with the lecture. 

Professional courtesy and sensitivity are important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. I expect you treat each other with politeness, respect, and kindness. Questions are welcome, the only requirement is that the questioner respects the opinion of others and does not monopolize class time.

B. Class Journal (20% of final grade)

Each class period, you will write on the assigned readings and media presented in class by responding to a given question. (You will usually have time to write in class.) The journal provides you with an opportunity to reflect critically on readings, discussions, and lectures. Because you will submit your writings each day, it would be best to keep your journal in a binder so that you can easily remove and replace pages. Journals may be handwritten but write legibly. You should refer to the readings and viewings in your entries. Quality of your comments is more important that quantity. In your writing, focus less on conveying factual data and more focused on critical reflection. Your work will be judged on style (grammar and writing), organization and argument (does it make its point clearly), as well as its ideas. 

Due dates: Journals are due at the end of each class period. All final journal entries (including APPROVED make-up journals) are due the last class period.

C. Exams (25% of final grade)

The mid-term exam will include two essay questions worth 10% of your final grade. The final exam will include three essay questions  worth 15% of your final grade. 

D. Research paper (35% of final grade)

Each student will submit a 2,250 to 2,500-word paper consisting of original research and analysis on an aspect of Mormon media. All choices must be pre-approved by the instructor. Your research must include references to at least 5 scholarly works (i.e. academic books or peer-reviewed journal articles) to draw on for your argument and analysis.  Please refer to our reading,  “Chapter 3: Getting Started,” by Jane Stokes in How to do Media and Cultures Studies , pp. 51-70, for guidance on topic selection and how to prepare a research question. 

 Possible research topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Media representations of Joseph Smith, Jr. 

  • The films of Richard Dutcher 

  • Political cartoons about Latter-day Saints 

  • News coverage of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign

  • News coverage of Latter-day Saints during the Trump campaign or Presidency

  • Audience reactions to the Book of Mormon musical

  • Latter-day Saint bloggers or Youtubers (i.e. the Shaytards, “Mommy” blogs)

  • Latter-day Saint themes in Twilight

  • Latter-day Saint business people or politicians in the media

  • Portrayals of Latter-day Saint criminals in the media

  • Latter-day Saint themes in Studio C

  • Contemporary portrayals of polygamy in the media 

  • Latter-day Saint characters in reality television

  • Masculinity in Sister Wives

  • Media use in the Church of Jesus Christ’s visitor centers

  • Audience reactions to videos on the Church of Jesus Christ’s Youtube channel

1. Grading criteria for research paper

Adequacy of research:  How thorough was the research conducted within the limits of the topic? Are all relevant and appropriate sources researched and are the sources representative of the field? Is the research done with appropriate discernment and evaluation of the validity and/or credibility of the sources?  Does the paper contain appropriate documentation of sources?  

Mastery of material:  How well was the research comprehended and utilized as reflected in the paper? Does the paper contain misunderstandings and misinterpretations? Does it show sufficient awareness of the historical background and larger implications of the material?    

Coherence of organization:  Is the thesis coherently organized? Is there logical and material coherence between different chapters? Is there an ordered, logical relationship between different parts, or does the work simply ramble? Are the transitions from one part to another coherent or arbitrary?   

Development of thesis:  Is the main thesis or claim clearly stated? Is it developed through appropriate elaboration, analysis, and argumentation, or is there a tendency to merely state a series of unsubstantiated claims? Is the argument developed with appropriate rigor, critical sensitivity, and fairness? 

Originality of thesis:  Does the thesis contain insights that may be regarded as a contribution to the field, or does it mostly repeat prevalent interpretations, claims, and assumptions?  

Clarity of communication:  Is the writing clear and intelligible or confusing and difficult to follow? Is it written in a persuasive manner? Is the material communicated with variety, emphasis, complexity, and diction appropriate to the main thesis? Does the form of communication indicate intellectual maturity appropriate to the master’s or doctoral level?  

V. Course Grading 

Grades will be assigned as follows: 

  • A’s are reserved for outstanding, thoughtful, and enthusiastic work and class participation that reflects mastery of course concepts and methods. These papers also are well-written and organized with no or very few grammatical errors.  

  • B+ and B are given for work that is above average, demonstrating effort and some developed understanding of course materials. These papers have some grammatical errors but are still well organized.  

  • B- and C+ will be given for work that shows minimal effort and/or a passable level of understanding but needs substantial improvement in ideas and argument. These papers have significant errors and are not well organized.  

  • C and C- is for minimally acceptable work that fulfills the bare minimum of specified requirements, demonstrating both little effort and little understanding of the material. This work has significant grammatical errors and lacks organization.

  • D work is below the minimum standard for acceptable writing. Papers have significant problems with writing, critical thinking and organization. 

  • F = Unacceptable work that fails to meet any criteria of the assignment. 

A is 94-100; A- is 90-93; B+ is 87-89; B is 83-86; B- is 80-82; C+ is 77-79; C is 73-76; C- is 70-72; D+ is 67-69; D is 63-66; D- is 60-62; F is below 60



Week 1. Introduction to Course

Day 1. Syllabus review, student expectations, and class objectives. 

Day 2. Reasons and conditions for the academic study of religion and media. 

Discussion questions:

  • What do you know about Mormons or Latter-day Saints? What are your sources for this knowledge? 

  • How does media shape how we see ourselves and others? 

  • Why study religion? Why study media and religion?

  • What are the differences between the academic study of religion versus a theological approach? 

  • Do you need to be a religious adherent to take this class? What are the advantages/disadvantages of the etic vs. emic approach?  

Readings due: 

  1. “Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups,” Pew Research Center, Feb 15, 2017.

  2. Lusher, Adam. “Mormons: What does the powerful religious group actually believe?” Independent, Jan 17, 2018.

  3. Sandstrom, Aleksandra and Becka Alper. “6 Facts about U.S. Mormons.”  Pew Research Center, Sept. 30, 2016.

  4. Sindima, Harvey J. “Why Study Religion?” Introduction to Religious Studies, University Press of America, 2009,pp. 1-15.


Week 2. Introduction to Religious Studies

Day 1. Historical Overview. Case study: the history and use of the term “Mormonism.”

Day 2. Latter-day Saint history depicted in television & film. Case study: Brigham Young and South Park.

Discussion questions:

  • What issues regarding Latter-day Saints sparked national debate and concern in the nineteenth century? How were these issues represented in the media? 

  • Due to media influences in the 19th, 20th, and 21stcenturies, how have audiences viewed Latter-day Saints based upon dominant notions of American identity?

  • What role did/does media play in the assimilation or rejection of religious institutions and their adherents into the American mainstream? 

  • What interests were advanced by representing Latter-day Saints in certain ways? 

  • Why has Mormon history continued to intrigue Americans?

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 2. 

Readings Due:

  1. Duffy, John-Charles and David J Howlett. Mormonism: The Basics. “Introduction” and “Chapter 1: A Brief History of Mormons,” pp. ix-27.

  2. Farmer, Jared. “Founding Impressions,” and “The Mormon Problem” Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012, pp. 8-30 and 46-67.

  3. Barlow, Rich. “Why We’re Afraid of Mormons.” Boston University TodayJuly 5, 2012.

    Case study (Day 1): The history and use of the term “Mormon” 

  4. Cragun, Ryan T. and Michael Nielsen. “Fight over ‘Mormon’: Media Coverage of the FLDS and LDS Churches.” Dialogue 42, no. 1 (2009): 65-7 and 94.

  5. Jacobs, Julia. “Stop Saying ‘Mormon,’ Church Leader Says. But Is the Real Name Too Long?” New York Times, Aug 18, 2018.

  6. Weaver, Sarah Jane. “ ‘Mormon’ is Out: Church Releases Statement on How to Refer to the Organization. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 16 August 2018. to-the-organization?lang=eng

    Case study (Day 2): LDS portrayals in Brigham Young &South Park

  7. “Mormons, Image of.” In Encyclopedia of Mormonismedited by Daniel H. Ludlow. Macmillan, 1992, pp. 946-50.

  8. Walker, David. “Mormon Melodrama and the Syndication of Satire, from Brigham Young (1940) to South Park (2003).” Journal of American Culture40, no. 3 (Sept 2017): 259-75.

In-class screening options:

  1. Brigham Young, directed by Henry Hathaway and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck (1940).

  2. South Park, “All About Mormons,” season 7, episode 12 (2003), and “Probably” season 4, episode 10 (2000).

Week 3. Religion, Media and Cultural Studies

Day 1. Hall’s Encoding/decoding; Culturalist approach to religious studies. 

Day 2. Guidelines for selecting a research paper topic. 

Discussion questions:

  • According to Hall’s model of communication, in what ways do producers attempt to reinforce a dominant culture? How do audiences make meaning of media messages? 

  • How do subgroups or marginalized groups use media both to define and strengthen themselves, as well as to position themselves in relation to what they see as the dominant culture (i.e. through assimilation or rejection)?

  • According to Hoover, how may culturalism be applied to religious studies? 

  • Review: guidelines on how to select a paper topic and research question including the object of analysis, theoretical paradigm, and research method. 

Assignment Due:

  • Journal for week 3. 

Readings Due:

  1. Hall, Stuart. "Encoding/Decoding." Culture, Media, Language, edited by Stuart Hall, et al. Hutchinson, 1980. 

  2. Hoover, Stewart, “The Culturalist Turn in Scholarship on Media and Religion,” Journal of Media and Religion12, no. 2 (2011): 137-52. 

  3. Stokes, Jane. How to do Media and Cultural Studies, Sage, 2013; “Chapter 3, Getting Started,” pp. 51-70.


Week 4. Key themes 

Day 1. Key themes: gender & sexuality, theocracy, and theology. 

Day 2. Deconstruction of Duffy’s essay as an example of religion & media scholarship. 

Discussion questions: 

  • How has media either marginalized (or “Othered”) Mormons or encouraged alignment with dominant cultural paradigms in the U.S.? 

  • How were Mormons represented historically? How are they represented in contemporary media? What patterns of depiction or what themes emerge over time? 

  • What roles might contemporary media play in shaping a public that is both more knowledgeable about religions (specifically Mormonism) and better equipped to understand and engage people from different religious backgrounds?

  • Based on last week’s readings of Hall and Hoover, how is Duffy’s essay an example of culturalist scholarship? What methods and theories does he apply in his analysis? 

  • According to Duffy, how are Latter-day Saints active agents in shaping their media image? 

  • Do you agree that media presence is key to public influence? 

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 4. 

Readings due:

  1. Duffy, John-Charles. “Mormons and American Television.” Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon Volume 1, ed. J. Michael Hunter, Praeger, 2013, pp. 91-120.

  2. Given, Terryl L. “Ch 1: ‘Out of the Sphere of Religion’: The Sacred, the Profane and the Mormons” and “Ch. 8: Muder and Mystery—Mormon Style.” Viper on the Hearth Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 11-23 and 173-87.

  3. Riess, Jana. “Mormon Popular Culture.”Oxford Handbook of Mormonismedited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow. Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 440-51.


Week 5. Politics: “The Mormon Moment”

Day 1. Historical overview of media coverage on Latter-day Saints. Baker’s proposed method for analyzing news media. 

Day 2. Case Study: Romney’s Presidential campaigns and the “Mormon Moment.”

Discussion questions:

  • What patterns are discernable in news coverage about the Latter-day Saints over time? What are the key issues and themes? What does the history of Latter-day Saints in news media reveal about the nature and limits of religious pluralism, tolerance, and freedom in the U.S.? 

  • How does the news function to create the construction of a dominant culture and marginalized cultures? Throughout history, how have Latter-day Saints been represented in relationship to the model American? Have they been portrayed as a people who can assimilate into the American mainstream? Why or why not? 

  • What have been the strategies of those inside and outside the Church of Jesus Christ in regards to the news media? What have been their vested interests and goals? 

  • During the first and second Romney campaign, how were Latter-day Saints portrayed in the news? Did Latter-day Saints feel they were fairly represented in the news? Why or why not? 

  • Why did the Church of Jesus Christ become a dominant media topic during the Romney Presidential campaigns? 

  • What does the media coverage during the Romney campaign indicate about what Americans value versus what they reject?  What does it reveal about American’s sense of personal and national identity? 

  • In what ways does media participate in and respond to the political and cultural fracturing of the American public?

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 5. 

Readings Due: 

  1. Baker, Sherry & Joel Campbell. “Mitt Romney's Religion: A Five Factor Model for Analysis of Media Representation of Mormon Identity.” Journal of Media and Religion9, no. 2, (2010): 99-115. (Includes historical summary of media coverage of Mormons from the founding of the faith pp. 99-104, proposes a model for an analysis of Mormon news coverage pp. 104-115.)

  2. Campbell, David E. “Chapter 4: Mormon Political Views: Cohesive, Republican, Conservative.” Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 77-102.

    Case Study (Day 2): Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign

  3. Campbell, Joe. “Better Reporting during the ‘Mormon Moment.’” Quill (Feb 2008): 33. 

  4. Douthat, Ross. “Romney’s Mormon Story,” The New York Times, Aug 11, 2012.

  5. Farmer, Jared. “A Mormon President?” Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012, pp. 308-33.

  6. Fry, Erika. “Romney and the ‘Mormon Moment’” Columbia Journalism Review (Mar 2, 2012).

  7. Haglund, Kristine.  “What the “Mormon Moment” Actually Accomplished.” Slate (Dec 01, 2014)

  8. Kirn, Walter. “The Mormon Moment,” Newsweek, June 2011, pp. 13-20.

  9. “Mormons in America – Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society.” Pew Research Center, Jan 12, 2012. 

In-class screening options:

Week 6. Church-State Relations

Day 1. Historical overview of church-state relations. Case Study: Proposed nineteenth century immigration ban on Latter-day Saints. 

Day 2. Case study: Latter-day Saint involvement in the campaign for California’s proposition 8.  

Discussion questions: 

  • What are the key issues that caused the federal government to mistrust the Church of Jesus Christ in the nineteenth century? Why was a “Mormon” immigration ban proposed? 

  • What concerns have Americans expressed regarding Catholic and Latter-day Saint political leaders? 

  • What role does religion play in regards to citizenship? 

  • What does the history of Mormonism reveal about the nature and limits of religious pluralism, religious toleration, and religious freedom in the U.S.? 

  • What is the Church of Jesus Christ’s stance on political neutrality? How does this relate to Latter-day Saint involvement in Prop 8? 

  • To what extent are media creators aware that their narratives shape how Americans think about religion?  

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 6.

Readings due:

  1. Duffy, John-Charles and David J Howlett. Mormonism: The Basics. “Chapter 3: Building God’s Kingdom: Mormons and church-state relations,” pp. 55-79. 

  2. Farmer, Jared. Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012. “The Mormon Problem” pp. 46-56 and “Utah’s Americanization” pp. 101-116. 

  3. “Political Neutrality.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


    Case study (Day 1): Proposed anti-Mormon immigration law

  4. Cleveland, Grover. “State of the Union, 8 Dec 1885” American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond on the Territory of Utah beginning with “In the Territory of Utah … to … I recommend that a law be passed to prevent the importation of Mormons into the country.”)

  5. Hunter, Schwarz. “138 years ago, the controversy over travel bans and religion was about Mormons from Europe.” CNN Jan 30, 2017.

  6. Jenkins, Jack. What A 19th Century Campaign To Declare Mormons ‘Non-White’ Tells Us About Modern Islamophobia,” ThinkProgress, Feb 12, 2016.

    Case study (Day 2): California’s Proposition 8

  7. Riess, Jana. “Mormon Popular Culture.”Oxford Handbook of Mormonismedited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow. Oxford University Press, 2015. (Review paragraphs on Proposition 8, pp. 439-51.)

  8. Young, Neil J. “Mormons and Same-Sex Marriage.” Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945 edited by Patrick Q. Mason and John G. Turner, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 144-70.

    Optional Readings:

  9. Brooks, Joanna. “On the ‘Underground’: What the Mormon ‘Yes on 8’ campaign reveals about the future of Mormons in political life.” Mormonism and Politics edited by Randall Balmer and Jana Riess, Columbia University Press, 2016, pp. 192-209.

  10. Campbell, David E. “Chapter 6: Following the Leader: Mormons’ Responsiveness to Church Leaders.” Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 77-102.

  11. Campbell, David E, Christopher F. Karpowitz, and J. Quin Monson. “A Politically Peculiar People: How Mormons moved into and then out of the political mainstream.” Mormonism and Politics edited by Randall Balmer and Jana Riess, Columbia University Press, 2016, pp. 133-54.

  12. Turner, John G. “Unpopular Sovereignty: Brigham Young and the U.S. Government, 1847-1877.” Mormonism and Politics edited by Randall Balmer and Jana Riess, Columbia University Press, 2016, pp. 14-32.

In-class viewing options:

  • 8: The Mormon Proposition, directed by Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet, 2010, 80min.

  • Prophet’s Prey, directed by Amy Berg, Showtime, 2015, 90min. 

  • Political Neutrality produced by the LDS Church, 


Week 7. Queering Heterosexuality

Day 1. Church teachings about Homosexuality. Case study: Angels in America

Day 2. Gender, sexuality, and the family. Case study: Sister Wives

Discussion questions: 

  • In reviewing Young’s essay from last week, how has the Latter-day Saint position on homosexuals evolved over time? 

  • How do the teachings on homosexuality differ in the various branches of Mormonism? 

  • How did the reaction of Latter-day Saint reviewers and scholars differ from critics regarding Angels In America

  • According to Hutchinson-Jones, what does Angels in America reveal about American’s “conflicting and conflicted perceptions of and feelings about Latter-day Saints?”

  • Why did Kushner choose to portray Latter-day Saints in his play? How are they represented? 

  • According to Bailey, why do pro-polygamy and LGBT politics make uneasy bedfellows? Do you agree/disagree? 

  • According to Bailey, what is “civic intimacy”? How is civic intimacy cultivated between the Browns and the viewers?  

  • How does Sister Wives portray family relationships? How does it construct “queer forms of heterosexuality”? How does it attempt to normalize polygamy? 

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 7.

Readings due:

  1. Duffy, John-Charles and David J. Howlett. “Chapter 4: Mormons and Sex: Gender, Sexuality, and Family,” pp. 80-89 and “Teachings about Homosexuality in the Mormon Streams,” 95-8. 

    Case study (Day 1): Angels in America

  2. Hutchison-Jones, Christine. “Chapter 1: Center and Periphery: Mormons and American Culture in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.” Peculiar Portrayalsedited by Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin, Utah State University Press, 2010, pp. 5-26.

    Case study (Day 2): Sister Wives

  3. Bailey, Courtney. “Love Multiplied: Sister Wives, Polygamy and Queering Heterosexuality,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video32, no. 1 (October 2014): 38-57.

    Optional readings:

  4. Bailey, Courtney W. and Adam James Zahren. “Post-homophobia Comes Out: The rise of Mormon polygamy in U.S. popular culture.” Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture1, no. 2 (June 2016): 159-80.

  5. Jorgenson, Derek A. “Media and Polygamy: A Critical Analysis of Sister Wives.” Communication Studies65, no. 1 (Jan-Mar 2014): 24-38.

  6. Moya, Luckett. “Playmates and Polygamists: Feminine Textuality in Big LoveSister Wives, and The Girls Next Door.” Feminist Media Studies14, no. 4 (2014): 562-77. 

  7. Rees, Myev. “Sister Wives: The Protestantization of Mormon polygamy.” Religion and Reality TV: Faith in Late Capitalism edited by Mara Einstein, Katherine Madden, and Diane Winston. Routledge, 2018, pp. 107-20.

  8. Richter, Nicole. “Affirming Plural Marriage: Sister Wives with Benefits.” Gender Forum 63 (2017): 30-51.  

In-class viewing options: 

Week 8. Midterm

Day 1: Midterm Exam, Day 2: Paper proposal due

Week 9. Gender, Sexuality & Polygamy

Day 1. Latter-day Saint polygamy in silent film, the Church’s campaign against these films. 

Day 2. Case study: HBO’s Big Love. The LDS Church’s reaction to the series. 

Discussion questions: 

  • To what extent were film producers aware that their narratives shape how audiences think about Mormons?  What influence did the films have on audiences? 

  • Where have writers, directors, producers, and media executives gotten their information about Mormonism? To whom do they turn or with whom do they collaborate?

  • What did the media creators in this week’s case studies attempt to communicate about Mormonism? What are their motivations and intended messages? 

  • How did the LDS Church react to the Mormon portrayals in this week’s case studies? 

  • What constraints in the film industry or the culture inhibit media companies from generating complex depictions of Mormon individuals, communities, and ideas?

  • What are the dramatic conventions of film that foster or hinder complex and nuanced representations of Mormon individuals, communities, and ideas?

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 9.

Readings due:

Case study: Latter-day Saint portrayals in the silent film era

  1. Cannon, Brian Q. and Jacob W. Olmstead, "Scandalous Film": The Campaign to Suppress Anti-Mormon Motion Pictures, 1911-12,” Journal of Mormon History29, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 42-74.

  2. Clawson, Rudger. “The Anti-Mormon Moving Picture and Play.” Millennial Star 73 (1911): 808-11. (Note: Addresses attacks against the LDS Church in the silent film A Victim of the Mormons.)

  3. Nelson, Richard Alan. “Commercial Propaganda in the Silent Film: A Case Study of A Morman Maid(1917).” Film History1, no. 2 (Jan 1, 1987): 149-59.

    Case study (Day 2): Big Love 

  4. Bennion, Janet. “Media and the Polygamy Narrative” in Polygamy in Primetime, Brandeis, 2011, pp. 135-158. 

  5. “The Publicity Dilemma” 9 March 2009, LDS Church, 

    Optional Readings: 

  6. Austin, Michael. “Four Consenting Adults in the Privacy of Their Own Suburb: Big Love and the Cultural Significance of Mormon Polygamy.” Peculiar Portrayalsedited by Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin. Utah State University Press, 2010, pp. 37-61.

  7. Hunt, Kyra. “Love Between Sisters: Queering polygamy in Big Love.” Journal of Popular Culture47, no. 1 (June 2012): 129-152. 

  8. Zuk, Tanya D. “‘Proud Mormon Polygamist’: Assimilation, Popular Memory, and the Mormon Churches in Big Love.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture26, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 93-106. 

In-class viewing options:

  • Big Love, HBO, 2006-2011.

  • A Matter of Principle: Polygamy in the intermountain west, directed by Ken Verdoia, KUED/PBS, 1990, 60min. (Documentary, a historical overview of polygamy.)

  • Mormon Maid, directed by Robert Z. Leonard, 1917, 1h 8min.

  • A Victim of the Mormons, directed by August Blom, 1911, 51min.

Week 10. Gender Roles, Family, and Feminism 

Day 1. Overview of gender roles and family values. The Church of Jesus Christ’s public relation campaign on families. Latter-day Saint feminists on social media.

Day 2. Review of case studies (students will be assigned an option).

Discussion questions: 

  • What is media’s role in creating and fostering religious social groups? What role does media play in shaping how religious subgroups (i.e. Latter-day Saint feminists) perceive and interact with each other?

  • How have technological innovations in media (such as: live streaming, binge watching, micro-targeted advertising, social media etc.) unified, divided, or multiplied audiences?

  • How does the intended audience shape the ways media producers and creators approach and depict religious adherents in their work?

  • How have Latter-day Saints attempted to use media to navigate between marginalization and acceptance within mainstream American society?

  • How have audiences reacted to the Church of Jesus Christ’s public relations campaigns? 

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 10.

  • Annotated bibliography (minimum of five scholarly sources) for research paper. 

Readings due: 

  1. Duffy, John-Charles and David J Howlett. Mormonism: The Basics. “Chapter 4: Gender Roles and ‘Family Values’ in Contemporary Mormonism,” pp. 89-94.

  2. Haws, J.B. “The Politics of Family Values: 1972-1981,” The Mormon Image in the American Mind, Oxford, 2013, 74-86.

  3. First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995.

  4. Henderson, Garnet. “Dissatisfied liberal Mormons find refuge in the Community of Christ.” The Guardian. Oct 1, 2015.

  5. “‘I’m a Mormon’ Effort Launches in New York City.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jun 16, 2011.

  6. On the ‘Homefront,’ Response is Good, Outlook Positive.” Ensign, November 1985.

    Case study option 1 (Day 2): LDS feminists on social media

  7. Finnigan, Jessica and Nancy Ross. “‘I’m a Mormon Feminist’: How Social Media Revitalized and Enlarged a Movement.” Interdisciplinary Journal ofResearch on Religion 9 (2013): 3-19.

    Case study option 2 (Day 2): Motherhood in “I’m a Mormon” ads.

  8. Chen, Chiung Hwang. “Diverse Yet Hegemonic: Expressions of Motherhood in ‘I'm a Mormon’ Ads.” Journal of Media and Religion13, no. 1 (2014): 31-47.


  9. Einstein, Mara. “Branding Faith and Managing Reputations. Consumption and Spirituality,” edited by Diego Rinallo, Linda Scott and Pauline Maclaran, Routledge, 2013, pp. 133-40.

In-class screening options:

“I’m a Mormon” ads:


Week 11. Religious Pluralism in the U.S.

Day 1. Defining Christianity and cult; orthodoxy versus heterodoxy in American religion. 

Day 2. Religious freedom and religious pluralism in the U.S.

Discussion questions: 

  • In the U.S., how is Christianity defined? How is cult defined? Who defines these terms?  Who determines what religions are defined as Christian versus a cult? What is the media’s role in constructing Christian and/or cult identities? 

  • What does the history of Mormonism in the U.S. reveal about orthodoxy and heresy in American religion? 

  • What does the history of Mormonism teach about the nature and limits of religious pluralism, tolerance, and freedom in the U.S.? 

  • How does the media shape how audiences see Mormonism as either inside the American mainstream or as outsiders? 

  • In what ways do media representations of religion limit what audiences recognize as expressions of religion and who they identify as being legitimate adherents of a religion?

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 11.

  • Rough draft of research paper. 

Readings due:

  1. Duffy, John-Charles and David J Howlett. Mormonism: The Basics. “Chapter 2: Are Mormons Christian?” pp. 38-54.

  2. “Church Points to Joseph Smith’s Statements on Religious Freedom, Pluralism.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dec 8, 2015.

  3. Givens, Terryl L. “Ch. 5 ‘This Great Modern Abomination’: Orthodoxy and Heresy in American Religion.” Viper on the Hearth, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 83-102.

  4. “The Living Christ,” Testimony of the Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jan 1, 2000.

  5. Mansfield, Stephen. “Chapter 9: The Work Unfinishised (section on Mormonism defined as a cult).” The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion became a dominant force in politics, entertainment, and pop culture, Worthy Publishing, 2012, pp. 162-4. (Note: Worthy is a non-academic press specializing in “inspirational” Protestant books.)

  6. Mason, Patrick. “The ‘Mormon Menace’” Contending Modernities, University of Notre Dame, Jan 21, 2011.

  7. “Religious Freedom.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Newsroom.

  8. Young, Neil J. “A Moral Majority: The Cult of Mormonism.” We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 189-203.

In-class viewing options: 

  • The God Makersby J. Edward Decker and Dave Hunt, 1982, 56min.

  • The Mormons, directed by Helen Whitney, PBS, American Experience + Frontline, 2007.

  • Prophet’s Prey, sequence on Mormon history, Showtime, 2015.

  • What is Religious Freedom? produced by the LDS Church,

Week 12.  Missionaries 

Day 1. Latter-day Saint missionary portrayals in the media. 

Day 2. Freedom of Speech and religious representations. Case study: Book of Mormon musical.

Discussion questions:

  • What qualities characterize a religiously literate film or show? What are the dramatic conventions that foster or hinder complex and nuanced representations of Mormon individuals, communities, and ideas?

  • What constraints in the industry or the culture inhibit media companies from generating complex depictions of Mormon individuals, communities, and ideas?

  • According to Duffy, how has the Mormon missionary image been used in ways not intended by LDS Church? Why are they interested in the Mormon missionary? How have non-Mormon media creators portrayed the Mormon missionary?  

  • Are there religious topics that should be off limits for public dialogue or satire? 

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 12.

Readings due: 

  1. Duffy, John-Charles. “Elders on the Big Screen: Film and the Globalized Circulation of Mormon Missionary Images.” in Peculiar Portrayals edited by Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin. Utah State University Press, 2010, pp. 113-42.

  2. Booth, Linda L. “God Calls Us into the Future.” Community of Christ.

    Case Study (Day 2): Book of Mormon musical

  3. Book of Mormon Musical: Church’s Official Statement.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Feb 7, 2011.

  4. Jones, Morgan. “How the LDS Church’s response to the Book of Mormon musical is actually working.” Deseret News, Nov 16, 2016.

  5. Kleeman, Jenny. “What Do Mormons Think About The Book of Mormon?” Vice, Mar 21, 2013.

  6. Sirvent, Roberto and Neil Baker. “South ParkThe Book of Mormon, and How Religious Fundamentalists Always Find a Way to Be Naïve and Arrogant at the Same Time.” The Ultimate South Park and Philosophy: Respect My Philosophah!, edited by Robert Arp and Kevin S. Decker, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, pp. 119-29.

  7. Smardon, Andrea. “In Utah, Book of Mormon Strikes a Chord,” NPR, Weekend Edition, Aug 2, ,2015.

    Optional readings:

  8. Koepsell, David. “Chapter 8: ‘Respect my Religiositah!’:South Park and Blasphemy.” The Ultimate South Park and Philosophy: Respect My Philosophah!, edited by Robert Arp and Kevin S. Decker, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, pp. 119-29.

  9. Hicks, Chris. “Tv Portrayal [Cold Case] of Mormons mean, callous.” Deseret News, May 5, 2005.

  10. Miller, Stuart. “Mormons picket ‘Fences’” Variety, Jan 31, 1993.

In-class viewing options:

  • 60 Minutes, “Profile of Matt Stone and Trey Parker” season 44, episode 1 (Sept 23, 2011).

  • Book of Mormon by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez. Eugene O’Neill Theater, 2011 (clips).

  • Best Two Years directed by Scott S. Anderson, 2004, 1h 52min.

  • God’s Army, directed by Richard Dutcher, 2000, 1hr 48min.

  • The Other Side of Heaven, Mitch Davis, 2002, 1hr 53min.

Week 13. Personal Narratives

Day 1. Conversion and deconversion narratives. 

Day 2. Latter-day Saint or “Mormon” Mommy Blogs.

Discussion questions: 

  • Why do individuals choose to tell and publicly distribute personal stories about their faith? 

  • How do people use stories to orient themselves in society? 

  • How do personal stories create and maintain religious identity? 

  • What is media’s role in creating and fostering social groups within religious groups? What role does media play in shaping how religious subgroups (i.e. former Latter-day Saints) perceive and interact with each other?

  • How has new media technologies and social media provided outlets and audiences for personal stories? 

  • What are the motivations and interests of institutions in distributing personal stories (i.e. NPR, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). 

 Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 13.

Readings due: 

  1. Avance, Rosemary. “Seeing the Light: Mormon Conversion and Deconversion Narratives in Off and Online Worlds.” Journal of Media and Religion 12, no. 1 (2013): 16-24.

  2. Baker, Elna, The Moth

  3. Baker, Elna, “The Old Man on my Shoulder.” NPR, This American Life , episode 661, Nov. 9, 2018.

  4. “Welcome, Marnie and Tony.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Case study (Day 2): Mommy bloggers

  5. Haglund, Kristine. “Blogging the Boundaries: Mormon Mommy Blogs and the Construction of Mormon Identity.”Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945 edited by Patrick Q. Mason and John G. Turner, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 234-56.

  6. Matchar, Emily. “Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs.” Salon, Jan 16, 2011.

  7. “Sharing via Blogs,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter=day Saints.

  8. West, Camille. “Families Should Discuss How to Use Social Media in Righteous Ways.” Feb 1, 2017. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

    Optional reading:

  9. Brubaker, Pamela, Kris Boyle & David Stephan. “The Shared Cultural Experience: A Comparison of Religious Memes Created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Religious Media, and Church Members.”Journal of Media and Religion16, no. 2 (2017): 67-79. (Note: A content analysis of 826 memes.)

  10. Burroughs, Benjamin. “And I’m a (social media) Mormon”: digital ritual, techno-faith, and religious transmedia.” Qwerty - Open and Interdisciplinary Journal of Technology, Culture and Education8, no 2 (2013).

  11. Madden, Katherine. “‘This is just an incredible God thing’: Monetized domesticity in bottom-up media.” In Religion and Reality TV: Faith in Late Capitalism edited by Mara Einstein, Katherine Madden, and Diane Winston. Routledge, 2018, pp. 107-20. (Note: One case of two case studies is Mormon Vlogger Shay Carl, The Shaytards.)

Week 14. A Peculiar People: Narrative portrayals

Day 1. Latter-day Saints in popular culture. 

Day 2. Case study: Latter Day Saints and vampires.

 Discussion questions: 

  • How does media shape religious identities? Why and how have Mormon and non-Mormon producers chosen to portray Mormon characters, themes, or ideas in narrative film and television?

  • What qualities characterize a religiously literate film or TV show? What dramatic conventions foster or hinder complex and nuanced representations of Mormons?

  • What constraints in the industry or the culture inhibit media companies from generating complex depictions of Mormon individuals, communities, and ideas?

  • According to D’Arc, how was vampire imagery incorporated into The Love Story of a Mormon and Trapped by the Mormons? What influence did the book and film have on audiences in the U.S. and abroad? 

  • How has LDS author, Stephanie Meyer depicted vampires in the Twilight series? What relation, if any, may be made between Twilight’s vampires and Mormon identity? 

Assignment due:

  • Journal for week 14.

Readings due: 

  1. Astle, Randy and Gideon O. Burton. “A History of Mormon Cinema.” BYU Studies 45, no. 2 (2007): 13-21. 

  2. Haws, J.B. “Familiar Faces: Mormons and American Popular Culture in a New Millennium.” The Mormon Image in the American Mind, Oxford, 2013, pp. 193-206.

  3. Corliss, Richard. “10 Memorable Depictions of Mormons in Pop Culture.” Time Apr 25, 2011.,28804,2067277_2067280_2067271,00.html

  4. Mansfield, Stephen. “Introduction: Engine of the Mormon Ascent.” The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion became a dominant force in politics, entertainment, and pop culture, Worthy Publishing, 2012, pp. 30-46. (Note: Worthy Publishing is a non-academic press specializing in Protestant “inspirational” books.) 

    Case Study (Day 2): Latter-day Saints and Vampires

  5. D’Arc, James V. “The Mormon as Vampire: A Comparative Study of Winifred Graham's The Love Story of a Mormon, the Film Trapped by the Mormons, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” BYU Studies46, no. 2 (2007): 164-187.

  6. Schwartzman, Sarah. “Is Twilight Mormon?” The Twilight Mystique: Critical essays on the novels and filmsedited by Amy M. Clarke and Marijane Osborn, McFarland & Co., 2010, pp. 121-36. 

    Optional readings: 

  7. Bunker, Gary L. and Davis Bitton. “Mesmerism and Mormonism.” BYU Studies 15, no 2 (Apr 1975): 146-70.

  8. Fetters, Ashley. “At Its Core, the 'Twilight' Saga Is a Story About ________ “ Atlantic. Nov 15, 2012.

  9. Young, Kristi A. “Testifying: Mormonism and the Writings of Stephanie Meyer.” Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon Volume 2, edited by J. Michael Hunter, Praeger, 2013, pp. 39-50.

In-class viewing options:

  • Twilight, The Twilight Saga. Summit Entertainment, 2008.

  • Studio C, BYUtv,  2012-present.

    Narrative portrayals of Joseph Smith, Jr:

  • Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration, directed by T.C. Christensen and Gary Cook, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2005.

  • The Work and the Glory , directed by Russell Holt, 2004.

Week 15.  A Peculiar People: Non-fiction portrayals

Day 1. Latter-day Saints in non-fiction television and film. Day 2. Wrap-up and final exam review. 

Discussion questions: 

  •  What motivates producers to include religiously-affiliated characters in reality TV? 

  • How and why do non-fiction producers include the religious identity of characters as part of the program’s narrative arc? What dramatic conventions of reality TV in particular foster or hinder complex and nuanced representations of Latter-day Saints?

  • What are audience reactions to religious characters in reality & non-fiction television?

  • How do religious characters in non-fiction television conform to or break stereotypes? 

  • According to Austin, what conclusions can be drawn from Latter-day Saint inclusion in reality TV? Do you agree with the author’s conclusions?  

Assignment Due:

  • Journal for week 15.

  • Research paper, final draft. 

Readings due: 

  1. Atkinson, Sally. “American Idols: Mormons and Reality TV.” Newsweek, May 5, 2008.

  2. Atkinson, Sally. “Reality TV: America’s Next Top Mormon.” Newsweek¸ May 10, 2008.

  3. Austin, Karen D. “Reality Corrupts: Reality Television Corrupts Absolutely.”Peculiar Portrayalsedited by Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin, Utah State University Press, 2010, pp. 183-95. 

  4. Christensen, Aaron. “A look at more than 90 Mormons on Reality TV shows since 2000.” Deseret News, Feb 20, 2014. 

In-class viewing options:


  • The Bachelor, Season 7, Fall 2011. (Bentley Williams). 

  • The Masked Singer, Fox, 2019.

  • The Real World: New Orleans. 2000. (Julie Stoffer).

  • Survivor: China. Season 15, Fall 2007. (Todd Herzog).


  • “The Mormon Madoff: How Shawn Merriman Scammed Millions,” American Greed. CNBC, June 20, 2012. 

  • “Wanted: Jason Derek Brown,” American Greed. CNBC, Apr 5, 2016. 

  • Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret. Lifetime, 2013.


  • New York Doll directed by Greg Whitely, 2005. 

VI. Academic Conduct and Support Systems

A. Academic Conduct - Plagiarism 

Presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words, is a grave academic offense with serious consequences. Familiarize yourself with the university’s guidelines on plagiarism. Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable, please review the additional information and university policies. The work you submit for this course must be work you have produced entirely by yourself, as well as work that has not been previously produced by you for submission in another course. 

B. Support Systems

1. Student Counseling Services
Free and confidential mental health treatment for students, including short-term psychotherapy, group counseling, stress fitness workshops, and crisis intervention. 

2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline– (800) 273-8255,

Free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

3. Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Services
Free and confidential therapy services, workshops, and training.

4. Sexual Assault Resource Center

Help for survivors such as information on rights, reporting options, and additional resources.

5. Office of Equity and Diversity/Title IX Compliance

Works with faculty, staff, visitors, applicants, and students around issues of protected class. 

6. Bias Assessment Response and Support

Incidents of bias, hate crimes and microaggressions need to be reported allowing for appropriate investigation and response. 

7. The Office of Disability Services and Programs 

Provides certification for students with disabilities & helps arrange relevant accommodations. 

8. Student Support and Advocacy

Assists students and families in resolving complex issues adversely affecting their success as a student such as personal, financial, and academic issues.

9. Diversity 

Information on events, programs and training, the Diversity Task Force (including representatives for each school), chronology, participation, and various resources for students. 

10. Campus Emergency Information

Provides safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued if an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible. 

11. Campus Department of Public Safety
Call with emergencies or to report a crime. Provides overall safety to the campus community. 


A. Monographs and anthologies 

1. Mormonism 

Bowman, Matthew. The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. Random House, 2012.

Bushman, Claudia L. Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America, Praeger, 2006.

Bushman, Richard L. Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Campbell, David E. Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2014. 

Mason, Patrick. What is Mormonism?: A Student’s Introduction. Routledge, 2017.


2. Mormonism and Media

Astle, Randy.  “Mormon Cinema: Origins to 1952.” Mormon Arts Center, 2018.

Bennion, Janet. Polygamy in Primetime. Brandeis, 2011. 

Bunker, Gary and Davis Bitton. The Mormon Graphic Image, 1834-1914: Cartoons, Caricatures, and Illustrations. University of Utah, 1983. 

Campbell, David E. A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election, Brookings Institution Press, 2007.

Decker, Mark T. and Michael Austin, editors. Peculiar Portrayals: Mormons on the page, stage, and screen. Utah State University Press, 2010.

Farmer, Jared. Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012, (2012).

Fluhman, Spencer. A Peculiar People: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth Century America. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. 

Givens, Terryl L. The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy. Oxford University Press, 1997. 

Haws, J.B. The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception. Oxford University Press, 2013. 

Hunter, J. Michael, editor. Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon Volumes 1, 2. Praeger, 2013.

B. Scholarly essays  

1. Cultural and Media Studies

Jenkins, Henry. “The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence,” International Journal of Cultural Studies7, no. 1 (2004): 34-42.

Kellner, Douglas. “Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism and Media Culture.” In Gender, Race and Class in Media. Edited by Gail Dines, and Jean Humez. Sage, 1995, 5-17. (Reprinted in Media/Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches edited by Rhonda Hammer and Douglas Kellner, Peter Lang, 2010).

2. Mormonism and Media

Astle, Randy.  “Mormons and Cinema.” In Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon Volume 1, edited by J. Michael Hunter. Praeger, 2013, pp. 1-45.

________. “What is Mormon Cinema? Defining the Genre.” Dialogue 42, no. 4 (Win 2009): 18-67.

________ and Gideon O. Burton. “A History of Mormon Cinema.” BYU Studies 46, no. 2 (2007): 127-163.

Bigley, Heather. “The Convert Bride and the Domestic Goddess: Refashioning Female Spirituality in Mormon Historical Films.” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 115-137. 

Feller, Gavin. “A Moderate Manifesto: Mormon Feminism, Agency, and Internet Blogging.” Journal of Media and Religion15, no. 3 (2016): 156-166. (Textual analysis of blogs by Neylan McBaine.)

Givens, Terryl L. “‘Cinema as Sacrament’: Theater and Film.”In People of Paradox, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 265-284.

________.  “‘There Is Room for Both’: Mormon Cinema and the Paradoxes of Mormon Culture,” BYU Studies, Vol 46, No. 2 (2007), 188-208.

Heise, Tammy. “Marking Mormon Difference: How Western perceptions of Islam defined the ‘Mormon Menace.’ Journal of Religion and Popular Culture25, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 82-97.

The Mormons. American Experience, Frontline. (Companion website for the PBS documentary.) 

Mulder, William. “Immigration and the ‘Mormon Question’: An International Episode.” Western Political Quarterly 9, no. 2 (Jun 1, 1956): 416-33.

Nelson, Richard Alan. “From Antagonism to Acceptance: Mormons and the Silver Screen.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 10, no. 3 (Spring 1977): 58-69.

Peters, John Durham.  “Mormons and Media.” Oxford Handbook of Mormonism, edited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow. Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 407-19. 

Rasband, R.W. “Without Mercy: Neil LaBute as Mormon Artist.” Dialogue 36, no. 2 (2003): 217-23.

Riess, Jana. “News Coverage of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Mediaedited by Diane Winston. Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 243-57.

Shipps, Jan. “From Satyr to Saint: American Perceptions of the Mormons, 1860-1960.” Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons. University of Illinois, 2000, pp. 51-97.  (Assesses articles about Mormons in newspapers, books, and periodicals to determine when and how perceptions of Mormons changed; survey results pp. 69-73) 

__________.  “Survey of the Mormon Image since 1960.” Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons. University of Illinois, 2000, pp. 98-123.  

Scott, David W.  “Mormon ‘Family Values’ Versus Television: An Analysis of the Discourse of Mormon Couples Regarding Television and Popular Media Culture.” Critical Studies in Media Communication20, no. 3 (2003): 317-333.

______. “Religiosity in South Park: Struggles over Institutional and Personal Piety Among Residents of a ‘Redneck Town.’” Journal of Media and Religion10, no. 3 (2011): 152-163. (Content analysis of South Park.)

C. Newspaper and magazine articles

Boyd, Hal. “The Ignorance of Mocking Mormonism.” The Atlantic, Nov 15, 2017.

Harrison, Mette Ivie. “Do Mormons Still Practice Polygamy?” Huffington Post, Mar. 22, 2016, updated Mar. 23, 2017.

Maza, Cristina. “Mormon Polygamist Cult Leader Hides Young Daughters So He Can Marry Them Off, Reports Say.” Newsweek, Dec. 6, 2017.

Nibley, Paul. “How Mormons See Themselves in Film.” Sunstone, July 1993, pp. 14-17.

Scharnberg, Kirsten and Manya AQ. Brachear. “Where the Polygamists have White-Picket Fences.” Los Angeles Times, Oct 15, 2006.

Soukup, Elise. “The Making of the Mormons, Beyond Prophecy and Polygamy: The future of a Booming Faith.” Newsweek, Oct 17, 2005.

 Van Biema, David.  “Mormons, Inc.,” Time, Aug 4,1997.

Winter, Caroline. “How the Mormons Make Money.”Bloomberg Businessweek, July 16–22, 2012.

Woodward, Kenneth L. “Mormons: A Changing—But Still Mysterious—Religion Gets Ready for Its Olympic Close-up.” Newsweek, Sept. 10, 2001.

Wright, Lawrence. “Lives of the Saints; at a time when Mormonism is booming, the Church is struggling with a troubled legacy.” The New Yorker77, no. 44 (Jan. 21, 2002): 40+.


D. Publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Ballard, Russel M. “Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. December 15, 2007.

Lambert, Linda. “The Image of Mormons in Films.” New Era, May 1972, 12– 15.

Young, Levi E. "Mormonism in Picture." Young Woman's Journal24, no. 2 (1913): 74-81. Promotes film as a medium for spreading the story of the LDS Church, as well as the creation of a historical movie detailing the early days of the Church.