Oxford has emerged as the major player in Mormon studies and has been releasing several titles a year. Senior editor Theo Calderara identifies Paula Kelly Harline’s The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women (June) as one of the press’s top-selling religion books of 2014.
He’s also excited about a new title from Terryl Givens, whose previous Mormon studies books (By the Hand of Mormon; When Souls Had Wings, etc.), have succeeded commercially and critically for Oxford. Givens’s November release takes Mormon studies into terra nova: theology. “Terryl is attempting to do for Mormonism what has been done for Christianity for centuries, to lay down in somewhat magisterial form the intellectual tradition of the faith,” Calderara says.
Also in the works at Oxford is historian W. Paul Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (Feb.). Oxford calls the book “the most thorough telling to date of Mormonism’s tortured relationship with blackness”—including the religion’s racial priesthood ban, in place until 1978, as well as white Mormons’ own struggle with being perceived as racially inferior. The press also has the essay collection The Oxford Handbook to Mormonism in the pipeline for late next year.
Cambridge University Press published the multi-author book Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics (July). Editor Lewis Bateman says it is “one of the first books to analyze the impact of Mormons on politics,” and it is timely given the emergence of Mormons like Mitt Romney onto the national political scene.
The University of Georgia Press has a manuscript in development about a murdered Mormon missionary in Appalachia. According to editor-in-chief Mick Gusinde-Duffy, it “explores interesting questions of faith, class, and gender.”
Meanwhile, Harvard has released the paperback version of John G. Turner’s 2012 biography, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Oct.). Joyce Seltzer, senior executive editor for history and contemporary affairs, says the cloth edition has sold around 10,000 copies and is the press’s top-selling book in American religious history.
What’s next for Mormon studies? Calderara foresees “disciplinary diversification” as the field expands from its core in American history to encompass international perspectives, sociological research, and philosophy.