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Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon$
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Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190221928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190221928.001.0001

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“Great Cause to Mourn”

“Great Cause to Mourn”

The Complexity of The Book of Mormon’s Presentation of Gender and Race

Chapter:
(p.298) 12 “Great Cause to Mourn”
Source:
Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon
Author(s):

Kimberly M. Berkey

Joseph M. Spencer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190221928.003.0013

As is often noted, The Book of Mormon attaches normative value to whiteness and generally ignores women’s spirituality. This essay insists, however, that the book’s presentation of gender and race should be read with an eye to characters who, from within the volume’s own narrative, identify and critique the racial and sexual presuppositions of the narrative. Focused on the racialized prophet Samuel and the countercultural prophet Jacob, the authors thus read The Book of Mormon as aware of and critical toward its own apparent racial and sexual problems. They argue that The Book of Mormon would in this way likely have struck its earliest readers as in step with the then-nascent genre of domestic fiction, represented in the 1820s by Lydia Maria Child (Hobomok) and Catharine Maria Sedgwick (Hope Leslie). Yet, unlike such novels, The Book of Mormon does its work through inventive (but subtle) reimaginings of key biblical texts.

Keywords:   The Book of Mormon, Lydia Maria Child, gender, intersectionality, Lamanites, race, Samuel the Lamanite, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, women, Mark Twain

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