This book contains fifteen essays, each first presented as the annual Tanner lecture at the conference of the Mormon History Association by leading historians and religious studies scholars, approaching Mormon history from a wide variety of angles, from gender to globalization. Renowned in their own fields but relatively new to the study of Mormon history at the time of their lecture, the scholars bring their own expertise to understanding Mormonism's past and present. Examining Mormon history from an outsider's perspective, they ask intriguing questions, share fresh insights and perspectives, analyze familiar sources in unexpected ways, and place Mormonism in broader scholarly debates. Several essays place Mormonism within the currents of American religious history - for example, by placing Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints in conversation with Emerson, Nat Turner, fellow millenarians, and freethinkers. Other essays explore the creation of Mormon identities, demonstrating how Mormons created a unique sense of themselves as a distinct people. Historians of the American West examine Mormon connections with American imperialism, the Civil War, and the cultural landscape.
Finally, essayists study recent Latter-day Saint growth around the world in recent decades, including in Africa, within the context of the study of global religions.