People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

Paperback | February 15, 2012

byTerryl L. Givens

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In People of Paradox, Terryl Givens traces the rise and development of Mormon culture from the days of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, through Brigham Young's founding of the Territory of Deseret on the shores of Great Salt Lake, to the spread of the Latter-Day Saints around the globe. Throughout the last century and a half, Givens notes, distinctive traditions have emerged among the Latter-Day Saints, shaped by dynamic tensions - or paradoxes - that give Mormon cultural expression much of its vitality. Here is a religion shaped by a rigid authoritarian hierarchy and radicalindividualism; by prophetic certainty and a celebration of learning and intellectual investigation; by existence in exile and a yearning for integration and acceptance by the larger world. Givens divides Mormon history into two periods, separated by the renunciation of polygamy in 1890. In each, heexplores the life of the mind, the emphasis on education, the importance of architecture and urban planning (so apparent in Salt Lake City and Mormon temples around the world), and Mormon accomplishments in music and dance, theater, film, literature, and the visual arts. He situates such culturalpractices in the context of the society of the larger nation and, in more recent years, the world. Today, he observes, only fourteen percent of Mormon believers live in the United States. Mormonism has never been more prominent in public life. But there is a rich inner life beneath the public surface, one deftly captured in this sympathetic, nuanced account by a leading authority on Mormon history and thought.

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In People of Paradox, Terryl Givens traces the rise and development of Mormon culture from the days of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, through Brigham Young's founding of the Territory of Deseret on the shores of Great Salt Lake, to the spread of the Latter-Day Saints around the globe. Throughout the last century and a half, Givens n...

Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. His books on Mormonism and American religious culture include The Latter-Day Saint Experience in America, By the Hand of Mormon, and Viper on the Hearth.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:February 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199915989

ISBN - 13:9780199915989

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Foundations and Paradoxes in Mormon Cultural Origins1. The Iron Rod and the Liahona: Authority and Radical Freedom2. The Endless Quest and Perfect Knowledge: Searching and Certainty3. Everlasting Burnings and Cinder Blocks: The Sacred and the Banal4. Peculiar People and Loneliness at the Top: Election and ExilePart II: Varieties of Mormon Cultural ExpressionBeginnings (1830-1890): The Dancing Puritans5. "The Glory of God is Intelligence": Mormons and the Life of the Mind6. "Zion Shall Be Built": Architecture and City Planning7. "No Music in Hell": Music and Dance8. "On a Cannibal Island": Theater9. "Novels Rather than Nothing": Literature10. "A Goodly Portion of Painters and Artists": Visual ArtsPart III: The Varieties of Mormon Cultural ExpressionA Movable Zion (1890-Present): Pioneed Nostalgia and Beyond the American Religion11. "Fomenting the Pot": The Life of the Mind12. "A Uniform Look for the Church": Architecture13. "No Tabernacle Choir on Broadway": Music and Dance14. "Cinema as Sacrement": Theater and Film15. "To the Fringes of Faith": Literature16. "Painting the Mormon Story": Visual ArtsConclusion: "Through the Particular to the Universal"NotesIndex