Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What is Mormon Studies? V

If one wants to see what Mormon Studies is like, consider the following paper from the 2011 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion held in San Francisco:
Scripting, Performing, Testifying: Giving Faithful "Seximony" through The Mormon Vagina Monologues
You might think that the title was deliberately provocative but the content was mild. So here is the abstract:
Abstract: In 2001, a group of Mormon women scripted what came to be known at the Mormon Vagina Monologues and presented their monologues at the annual Sunstone magazine conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Using this public forum to express extremely private experiences, the women not only critiqued the Mormon Church patriarchy, but also used essential elements of the Mormon faith — those of testimony, scripture, and personal revelation — to envision a Church more accepting of sexual differences. Using methodological approaches from Mormon studies, feminist studies of religion, and performance studies, this paper argues that the Mormon Vagina Monologues exploited an inherent ambivalence in the LDS relationship between priesthood authority and personal authority. A number of monologues are examined, including pieces dealing with sacred undergarments, female masturbation, eternal marriage and the celestial kingdom, and the personal and theological struggles of male-to-female transsexual Latter-day Saints.
Perhaps the presentation was by some nut out of the mainstream. No, Jill Peterfeso was affiliated with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Guilford College, a job this presentation no doubt helped her secure. But surely, this presentation was given in one of the AAR's wierd sections. No, this was presented in the Mormon Studies Consultation. This is mainstream Mormon Studies.