New developments and research
So far, 2013 has been a year of major developments at the Maxwell Institute. They are reprised here, along with happenings on the research and publications front.
Launch of new Mormon Studies Review
The first annual issue of the Mormon Studies Review, our periodical following the academic study of Mormonism, will be published on December 1, 2013. J. Spencer Fluhman, assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University, has been named as editor, with Benjamin E. Park (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge) and our own D. Morgan Davis as associate editors. Fluhman has enlisted an advisory board for the Review including recognized scholars like Richard L. Bushman, Laurie Maffly-Kipp, and Patrick Q. Mason. Fluhman anticipates that the Review "will become an engaging, one-stop shop where scholars and nonspecialists alike can keep up with the vibrant, growing academic field of Mormon studies."1
Salt Press acquisition
The Institute has reached an agreement with Salt Press to republish their current—and acquire their forthcoming—titles. Salt was founded in 2009 as "an independent academic press dedicated to publishing books that engage Mormon texts, show familiarity with the best contemporary thinking, remain accessible to nonspecialists, and foreground the continuing relevance of Mormon ideas."2 Forthcoming works include James E. Faulconer’s The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder: Scripture Study Questions and Julie M. Smith’s edited compilation Apocalypse: Reading Revelation 21–22. Salt’s four cofounders, Adam S. Miller, Joseph M. Spencer, Jenny Webb, and Robert Couch, have been asked to serve as the first members of the Institute’s new Mormon studies editorial advisory board, which will assist with book manuscript solicitation and acquisitions.
New social media presence
Our Internet presence has been steadily increasing. In February, Blair Dee Hodges (MALS, Georgetown University) was brought in as our new public communications specialist. In addition to assisting with various research and editing projects, Hodges manages our new Facebook page (facebook.com/maxwellinstitute), Twitter account (@MI_BYU), and YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/themaxwellinstitute). He also edits the Institute’s new blog, currently accessible at www.maxwellinstituteblog.org. It features up-to-date news and announcements, Q&As with scholars, short book notes, and research updates such as those usually published in Insights.
We’re excited to announce that a completely new Institute website is currently under construction. In addition to making our past research more easily accessible in a variety of formats, the new site will provide information about the ongoing work being done with each of the Institute’s initiatives, such as the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, and the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts.3
Institute scholars present research
Institute scholars have been busy discussing their research at various academic conferences. In February, Kristian Heal delivered a lecture on our digitization efforts to the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity at Princeton University. In March, Morgan Davis spoke about Islamic mysticism on a panel at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference at BYU. That same month, Blair Hodges presented a paper on intellectual disability in Mormon thought and history for the Association for Mormon Letters and another paper on the same topic in May at the Pacific Northwest region’s American Academy of Religion conference.4 Kristian Heal and John Gee participated at the Church History Symposium, cosponsored by BYU’s Department of Church History and Doctrine, the Religious Studies Center at BYU, and the LDS Church History Department. Videos of the latter two presentations are available at BYU’s Religious Education YouTube channel.5
The next issue of the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture will be available this summer. It includes James E. Faulconer’s 2013 Laura F. Willes Book of Mormon Lecture on Moroni 10, which demonstrates how a close reading of a very familiar text can yield unfamiliar but worthwhile insights. Also in the Journal, Kerry Muhlestein explores religious syncretism in Egyptian history, and Matthew Roper questions whether the ancient city of Manti was accurately identified by a group of traveling Latter-day Saints in 1838. Other articles discuss the Sermon on the Mount and textual interlay within the Book of Mormon.
In addition to working on this publication, the Institute’s publications team is hard at work preparing John L. Sorenson’s forthcoming book, Mormon’s Codex, for publication.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year at the Maxwell Institute. We encourage readers to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and to watch for news and updates on the Institute’s new blog.
1. "Announcing the new Mormon Studies Review," March 25, 2013, http://www.maxwellinstituteblog.org/.
2. "Salt Press titles come to the Maxwell Institute," April 9, 2013, http://www.maxwellinstituteblog.org/.
3. For more information about the Institute’s various initiatives, see the description posted with our mission statement at http://www.maxwellinstituteblog.org/.
4. A synopsis of the Mormon studies section of the AAR conference can be read at http://www.maxwellinstituteblog.org/ under the entry for May 6, 2013.