The Mormon History Association annual conference took place in Provo, Utah, June 4 to 7, 2015. Acquisitions editor Dawn Durante attended and shares her impressions.

In 1965, the Mormon History Association (MHA) was founded under the leadership of historian and UIP author Leonard J. Arrington at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA). Initially an affiliate of AHA, the organization transitioned to being independent, and each year MHA members come together to study and understand all aspects of Mormon history. This year, members also commemorated their own history at the fiftieth annual MHA meeting.

Mormon History Association reception

The conference, which took place in picturesque Provo, UT, kicked off with a reception, complete with a commemorative ice sculpture and retrospective display. Hosted by current MHA President Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, an American history and women’s history scholar, the reception honored some of the founding members of the MHA who were in attendance. Merriment was encouraged in the form of games: a high-tech interactive dance video game was juxtaposed by traditional pioneer wooden board games placed throughout the area. The following night featured ice cream sundaes at a Gold and Green Ball, which is traditionally an annual LDS social event. Throughout the meeting, there was reflection on the changes that have taken place within Mormon history studies over the years. It is an exciting time in the field: there is still much work to be done in purely historical studies, there is a great deal of interest in Mormon women’s history and Mormon feminist studies, and there is growing interest in Mormonism in international contexts.

UIP began attending and exhibiting at MHA in the early eighties under the editorship of Liz Dulany, whose influence is still strongly felt among the MHA community. Acquiring some of the seminal texts in Mormon history, Liz also worked closely with American history scholar Jan Shipps, who is a renowned Mormon studies scholar, a UIP author, and a past president of the MHA. As one of the first university presses to publish seriously in Mormon studies, UIP was a participant in the MHA meetings for decades. After circumstances led to missing the meeting for the last few years, UIP was delighted to return to the flagship meeting for one of its publishing strengths.

MHA Best First Book Award

And the timing couldn’t have been better! In addition to the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, UIP was happy to celebrate some recent Mormon’s studies titles. Christine Talbot’s A Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890 was extremely well-received. There was a giveaway for the forthcoming The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History, edited by Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst, which received overwhelming interest. Michael Hicks generously signed copies of his new book The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography. Last but not least, UIP could not be more delighted that the year of their return to MHA coincided with author David Howlett receiving the MHA’s First Book Award for his book Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Sacred Space. Howlett was recognized at the MHA’s award ceremony, where David was greeted with much applause and congratulations.

The conference ended with a festive Presidential Banquet, where President Laurel Ulrich gave a much-anticipated closing talk. As much as the fiftieth anniversary of MHA was a celebration of its history and accomplishments, attendees also recognized all the opportunities for its future, and there is much to look forward to next year when the MHA will meet in Snowbird, UT.


We are pleased to announce that Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space by David J. Howlett received the Best First Book Award from the Mormon History Association.

The award was announced at the Mormon History Association conference on June 6 in Provo, Utah. The author was at the conference to receive his award, and acquisitions editor Dawn Durante accepted an award on the Press’s behalf.

David Howlett

David Howlett

bujoldOver the weekend, geek culture daily-must-visit site I09 wrote up UIP’s acclaimed Modern Masters of Science Fiction series. We express thanks for their kind praise. Please have a look at the article.

lidwinaJune 3, or Wednesday if you please, marked the beginning of a sacred holiday. No, not the birthday of Anderson Cooper. June 3 saw the first game in the ritual-rich battle for a thyroidal Canadian tsotchke called the Stanley Cup. Hockey teams from Chicago and Tampa Bay stormed onto the ice, determined to apply a maximum of human effort toward putting a vulcanized rubber disk into a net. On their feet: a boot held tight by many laces with a sharp metal blade on the bottom.

Before hockey came the artistic pastime of figure skating. Europeans, having glided around icy ponds on the sharp edges of bones and other substances for centuries, began carving out shapes on the ice, and soon added stunts that most people couldn’t do on their Darwin-given feet, let alone narrow blades.

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In the temperate zone of North America, June is busting out all over. The tree near the railroad tracks spreads its verdant canopy over lunchtime picnickers. Staff gardener Margo tirelessly plows and prunes and plants in the tiny garden plot assigned to us by the Tsar.

But these days you can’t swing a rake without smacking the very personification of animated unlife. The zombie is the biggest thing to hit horror since Jamie Lee Curtis. Not surprisingly, college programs and students have embraced the study of these charismatic corpses, with academic and indie presses providing plenty of scholarly material to feed the brain (as opposed to feeding on the brain, pardon the mental image). Whether you like dead that walk, run, lurch, or mindlessly meander, our June survey of academic zombie titles can be your 101 intro to an exciting new field of study.

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SiffS15Stephen Siff is an assistant professor of journalism at Miami University, Ohio. He recently answered some questions about his book Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience.

Q: When did the media first start to write about LSD?

Stephen Siff: Many people hold a stereotype of the 1950s as a gray, button-down decade, but there was also great deal of interest in drugs and the chemical mind during this period. The first drugs that effectively treated severe mental illness were just being developed, as were anti-anxiety medicines that quickly entered casual use for millions of Americans. For journalists, it seemed as though uses for drugs that previously seemed pure science fiction – for mind control, for sex, to improve personality and happiness, for spiritual growth — were now just around the corner.

The first shipment of LSD to researchers in the United States was in 1949. In 1955, their experiments were described in Scientific American. There was a flurry of newspaper and magazine articles in the mid-1950s describing other research studies that used the drug to simulate insanity or reveal forgotten memories. In retrospect, the results of many of these studies seem unduly influenced by the investigators presumptions and biases, as well as the pliable nature of experimental subjects on LSD. Continue reading

HicksS15Author Michael Hicks will be signing copies of his book The Mormon Tabernacle Choir:  A Biography at BookExpo America on Thursday, May 28 at 11am EDT.

BookExpo America (BEA) is North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals attracting an international audience. It is organized with the support of association partners including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the American Booksellers Association (ABA).  BEA is recognized for the media attention it brings to upcoming books as well as for the notable authors it attracts to the convention itself.   

A first-of-its-kind history, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir tells the epic story of how an all-volunteer group founded by persecuted religious outcasts grew into a multimedia powerhouse synonymous with the mainstream and with Mormonism itself.

Drawing on decades of work observing and researching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Michael Hicks examines the personalities, decisions, and controversies that shaped “America’s choir.”  Here is the miraculous story behind the Tabernacle’s world-famous acoustics, the anti-Mormonism that greeted early tours, the clashes with Church leaders over repertoire and presentation, the radio-driven boom in popularity, the competing visions of rival conductors, and the Choir’s aspiration to be accepted within classical music even as Mormons sought acceptance within American culture at large.  Everything from Billboard hits to TV appearances to White House performances paved the way for Mormonism’s crossover triumph.  Yet, as Hicks shows, such success raised fundamental concerns regarding the Choir’s mission, functions, and image.

“The anecdotes alone are worth the price of the book.”
—Alex Beam, The Wall Street Journal

boutin3Aimée Boutin teaches French literature and culture in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University. She answered some questions about her book City of Noise: Sound and Nineteenth-Century Paris.

Q: What might one hear while walking down a 19th-century Parisian street?

Aimée Boutin: Nineteenth-century Parisian streets were very noisy. One might hear the rattle and clank of horse-drawn vehicles on rough stones, the calls of coachmen amid traffic noise, barking dogs, church bells ringing, boys shouting out the news, but some of the most distinctive sounds of Paris were the cries of small-scale tradespeople and the clamor of street musicians. Old-clothes-men sold second-hand clothing, glaziers peddled window panes, costermongers hawked fruits and vegetables, water-carriers and milkmaids broke the morning silence, violet sellers and chickweed vendors crooned meekly. Each had a distinctive cry designed to soar above the city din. Peddlers’ traditional cries were known as the Cris de Paris and had been celebrated as Paris’s sonorous blazon for centuries.
What one might hear would depend on the neighborhood where one strolled. In the medieval core of the old city, tradespeople peddled goods and services and their soaring voices could be heard equally well at street level or in top-floor garrets. On the Pont neuf, in the theater district along Boulevard du Temple, or on the Champs Élysées, one would be more likely to be deafened by street entertainers, organ grinders, and buskers. Boulevards were full of commotion and the calls of the orange seller or the grinding of the barrel organ would assault the ears of passersby. Continue reading

The University of Illinois Press, like most academic and small publishing concerns, faces an uncertain fiscal environment that depends on many factors—politics, capitalism, snack machine revenue—beyond our control. Throughout the AAUP, indeed throughout the academy, managers and staffers alike incessantly search for ways to cut costs. It’s not easy, what with everything going up in price all the time. But the conscientious women, men, and very bright lemurs who staff university presses manage to save countless dollars as they bring the public the knowledge it needs to keep America a barely functioning democracy.

For a moment, let’s turn our backs on the red ink and look into the black.

Seven words: new revenue streams to bring in funding.

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For the tenth consecutive year, the University of Illinois Press will have a large presence at the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest.  Festival goers can visit the University of Illinois Press tent on Dearborn Street, between Congress and Polk. Press staff will sell Chicago- and Illinois-themed books from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on June 6-7.

The Lit Fest program committee has invited multiple University of Illinois Press authors to speak about their recent books held at Jones College Prep, adjacent to the exhibit area.

Sensing Chicago - Adam MackAdam Mack, author of Sensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers, will speak at the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest program “Chicago Living,” with Joseph Schwieterman and Dean Jobb on Saturday, June 6 from 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m in Classroom #5010.

Robert Marovich, author of A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music, will join Wilbert Jones in a conversation with Mark Guarino titled “Chicago Blues and Jazz” on Sunday, June 7 from 11:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. in Classroom #5034.

Laurent Pernot, author of Before the Ivy: The Cubs’ Golden Age in Pre-Wrigley Chicago, will join Jeff Katz and Phil Rogers in conversation with Tim Bannon entitled “Play Ball” on Sunday, June 7 from 11:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. on Center Stage.

A number of University of Illinois Press authors will be signing books at the UIP tent booth space on Saturday, June 6:

Thomas Gradel and Dick Simpson (Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality)- 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Cynthia Clampitt, (Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland) –  12:00 p.m-1:00 pm.

Alan Guebert and Mary Grace Foxwell (The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey: Memories from the Farm of My Youth) – 1:00 pm.-2:00 p.m.

Brian Dolinar (The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers) – 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

The Printers Row Lit Fest was founded in 1985 by the Chicago Near South Planning Board to attract visitors to the Printers Row neighborhood (once the city’s bookmaking hub).  It is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest-drawing more than 125,000 book lovers to the two-day showcase.