Meet the Expert

The Basics

First Name
Middle Name/M.I.
Last Name
Salt Lake City
United States

Professional Information

Categories of Difference
Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of History
Institutional Affiliation
University of Utah
Discipline of Degree
Religious Studies
Biographical Sketch

I am a professor of history at the University of Utah who specializes in American religions.  For me, Mormon studies is best understood within a larger context of religious history.  I have just published  Sister Saints: Mormon Women Since the End of Polygamy. Publishers Weekly calls Sister Saints a “detailed, deeply moving book” and concludes that this “thoughtful exploration of American Mormon women is as challenging as it is enlightening.” I also have published in modern Catholic history. My book The Spirit of Vatican II: Catholic Reform in America examines the reception of the Second Vatican Council and uses my family as a narrative thread.  As a specialist in visual and material culture, my other publications deal with the movies, with photography, and with the “stuff” of American religious life. The best know of these is Material Christianity.  My book Heaven: A History was co-authored with a German professor, Bernhard Lang, and has been translated into multiple languages.  It was reviewed in the New York Times. I’ve been honored to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Fulbright’s John Adams Chair in American History which enabled me to teach at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and an Indo-American Fellowship that supported research in India.

Mormon Studies Expertise

Methods/ Approaches
Anthropology, Ethnography, Gender Studies, History, Oral History, Religious Studies
Chronological Focus
19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Geographic Focus
United States and/or Canada
Research Topics
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Colonialism/imperialism, Cultural History, Gender/Femininity/Masculinity/Sexuality, Material Culture, Popular Culture, Ritual Studies, Sacred Space, Visual Culture, Women's History
Key Words

Sister Saints: Mormon Women Since Polygamy, Oxford University              Press, 2018

“Mormons, Materialism, and the Struggle Against the Ideology of Separation,” in Hugh McLeod and David Hempton, eds. Secularization and Religious Innovation: A Transatlantic Comparison (Oxford University Press, 2017

“Mexicans, Tourism, and Book of Mormon Geography,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 2017

“Heritage Religion and the Mormons,” Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Carter, The Oxford  Handbook of Material Culture (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)