Mormon LitCrit: Recommendations for BYU Students?

I presented today in my Creative Writing Theory class on Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain. Most of the pages in that book are split into three “voices”: the voice of Kiowa myth, the voice of historical commentary, and Momaday’s personal voice. It’s a beautiful text. BYU professor Suzanne Lundquist has written on how to use the text as a starting point for students to explore their own heritage in terms of what she calls “mythos, logos, and ethos,” or spiritual, scholarly, and personal perspectives and inheritance.

My wife is currently teaching a freshman writing course at BYU which started with a unit on Native American writings (looking at mythic, historical, and contemporary voices) and then went on to a unit on Jewish writing, which followed the same pattern into texts like Elie Wiesel’s Souls on Fire and Jonathan Rosen’s Talmud and the Internet.

She is now starting a unit on Mormon writing, and wants her students to find texts in which contemporary writers interact with their spiritual/mythic inheritance. She’s putting together a list of places to look, which currently includes Irreantum, The Best of Mormonism, Allred’s The Golden Plates, Parley Pratt’s A Dialogue Between the Devil and Joseph Smith, the Segullah website, several Deseret Book writers (Dean Hughes, Chris Crowe, Gerald Lund, RAche Anne Nunes, Jack Weyland, Anita Stansfield, etc.), Eric Samuelsen’s The Plan, and Mormon Artist.

Which places or specific works would you recommend to students as possible texts (or places to look for texts) for this unit?

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6 Responses to Mormon LitCrit: Recommendations for BYU Students?

  1. Emily M. says:

    David Farland’s _In the Company of Angels_. Highly recommended. _Dispensation_, the recent anthology edited by Angela Hallstrom. _Bound on Earth_, also by Angela Hallstrom. If they are interested in popular LDS fiction, have them look up the Whitney finalists starting in 2007. Even in those works that don’t have overt LDS references, I think you can still find an LDS spiritual/mythic inheritance.

    Lucky students. Sounds like a great class.

  2. Liz Busby says:

    Assuming the students might want to be writing a personal essay along the lines of what they read (they used to do that in freshman English anyway . . .), the winners of the David O McKary essay contest are published each year in "The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity." Back issues available at the BYU Bookstore. A good place to look for extremely contemporary peer work.

  3. Lee Allred says:

    Michael Collings’ [i]Taliesin[/i] poems recasting Joseph Smith as King Arthur and Nauvoo as Camelot. They’re available online:

    http://www.starshineandshadows.com/essays/2009-11-20.html

    A lengthier work is his "epic poem in XII books," [i]The Nephiad[/i]:

    http://www.starshineandshadows.com/essays/2010-03-10.html

    – Lee Allred

  4. Mark B. says:

    I would recommend readings from Segullah in addition to what’s already been mentioned.

  5. Davey says:

    The supergreat FOB Bible is a must.

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