I'm looking forward to attending my first MHA Conference right here in San Antonio. I've enjoyed so many articles in the Journal of Mormon History over the few years I've been a member, and now I'm looking forward to meeting some folks in the flesh. (Any one reading this going to be attending? Here's the preliminary program.)
Three years ago when I read Leonard Arrington's "Adventures of a Church Historian", I typed out the following paragraph about MHA because I found it interesting:
In 1977, I think, the year we met in Ogden, the dean of BYU's College of Religious Instruction presented a paper that was subjected to the usual ritual of a commentator making suggestions for improvement. The dean did not like the commentator's tone. Nor did he like a paper he heard presented in another session by a historian the dean regarded as "lacking testimony." The dean made up his mind to take action. BYU's College of Religious Instruction would no longer support any member of its faculty in attending future meetings of the Mormon History Association. The rule still holds. If any faculty member wishes to attend the MHA convention, and some do, the individual must pay and use vacation time. I wondered whether someone who heard a talk in sacrament meeting he didn't like would discontinue taking his children to meetings in that ward. Or, whether one who had seen an article in The Ensign she didn't like would cancel her subscription. I believe it is shortsighted to discourage the attendance of College of Religious Instruction faculty at MHA conventions, because they teach many courses in church history and they, of all people, need to know of new developments in the field. (--Leonard Arrington, p. 61, "Adventures of a Church Historian")
Seeing that there is now in fact the following announcement for the conference on BYU's Religious Education website, I'm wondering if anyone has any insight about this "rule" that Arrington talks about and if or when it changed?
2014 MHA Conference in San Antonio, Texas, June 5-8, 2014
"The Immigration of Cosmopolitan Thought"
The 49th annual conference of the Mormon History Association will be held in San Antonio, Texas, June 5-8, 2014. The theme emphasizes the interplay between Mormonism and broad national and international currents and forces. San Antonio, a cosmopolitan, historically Catholic borderlands city with a vibrant but contested multicultural history and a relatively small but expanding Mormon presence, is a good place to explore the immigration and impact of cosmopolitan viewpoints and ideas. Papers that connect all branches of the Restoration to diverse theoretical, intellectual, and cultural perspectives, as well as papers that examine the interplay between Mormonism and other religions, are encouraged. Texas, a state with a reputation for confidant swagger and independent thought, is also a bastion of conservative moral conviction. Also encouraged are papers that explore how Mormons have negotiated an identity and thrived in vast settings with firmly entrenched worldviews where they have comprised small, sometimes maligned minorities.