Author Archives: Scott Hales

Mormon LitCrit: From Imitation to Innovation; or, Why Mormon Writers Should Move Out of the Basement

Cultural texts do not exist independent of one another, but in an interdependent relationship we call the tradition. New texts rely on the tradition of older texts, and older texts depend on new texts to keep the tradition vibrant and relevant. … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit | Tagged , , , , | 111 Comments

Mormon Literature and the Anxiety of “Passing”

In literature, a character’s ability to move unnoticed from one social group to another, often more privileged group is called “passing.” In Disney’s Mulan, for example, the title character “passes” for a man so that she can take her aging … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, Storytelling and Community | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Literature and the Challenge of The Mormon People

Matthew Bowman’s The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith, published earlier this year by Random House, is possibly the best overview of Mormon history that I’ve read. Written for scholars and general readers alike, the book situates Mormonism … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Novelist Nephi; or Why We Still Need the “Author of ‘Added Upon’”

In less than a week I will be traveling to Salt Lake City to spend a week in the Church History Library with the Nephi Anderson papers. To prepare, I have been reading Anderson’s novels and short stories and making … Continue reading

Posted in Storytelling and Community | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Agency, Influence, Accountability, and the Mormon Artist

Since last Friday’s mass-shooting at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, fingers have pointed in many directions. In a New York Times op-ed, for example, film critic Roger Ebert joins others in blaming the gun lobby and “paranoid … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, The Writer's Desk | Tagged , , | 80 Comments

Mormon LitCrit: Do We Need New Mormon Literary Theory?

“There is always a surprise in store for the anatomy or physiology of any criticism that might think it has mastered the game, surveyed all the threads at once, deluding itself, too, in wanting to look at the text without … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

Utopian Spaces and Mormon Fiction

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “Utopia” as “[a] place, state, or condition ideally perfect in respect of politics, laws, customs, and conditions.”  The original terms, of course, derives from Sir Thomas More’s 1516 book, Utopia, which describes how such a place would … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Teaching Mormon Literature to Non-Mormon Students

As I type I am sitting in the Salt Lake Airport waiting for a flight that will take me first to Denver and then to Dayton, where my decade-old Honda is waiting to take me home. It’s Sunday, but there … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, Thoughts on Language | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Mormon Literature, Flash Fiction, and the iPad Age

When I used to teach nights at a local career college, I would begin my Introduction to Literature class by having students read Ernest Hemingway’s “A Very Short Story.” At 633 words, the story was ideal for giving the students … Continue reading

Posted in Electronic Age | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

The Mormon Lit Blitz: Week One

Today marks one week since the start of the Mormon Lit Blitz. Already we’ve featured great works by Marilyn Nielson, Wm Morris, Jeanna Mason Stay, Emily Harris Adams, Sandra Tayler, Merrijane Rice, and Kathyrn Lynard Soper. Over the next week … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, Storytelling and Community | 33 Comments