I noticed this past week that my local library system, the New York Public Library, is again seeking donations and letters to city council members in order to address its budget woes. The move, of course, has everything to do with the time of the year, as the city works through its budget and, initially, cuts the library budget as part of the solution for the shortfall.
Given the habits of local governments, I imagine that your local public library is facing the same budget issues, or will fact those issues soon. And, unless your public library has a reputation of near that of my library, it is likely facing a much more difficult budget problem. Somehow the library seems like an easy place to make cuts. But the following excerpt helps explain why funding libraries is important.
After a half decade of delays, obstacles, research, and revising, I am so pleased that this behemoth is now ready to release onto an unsuspecting world! The plays it includes (from such Mormon Letters luminaries as Eric Samuelsen, Margaret Blair Young, Melissa Leilani Larson, Thomas F. Rogers, Susan E. Howe, James Arrington, Scott Bronson, Tim Slover, Robert Elliott, and Thom Duncan) have effected my life in profound ways and I hope other people will feel the same. They make up some of the finest accomplishments in the history of Mormon Drama. The volume is huge… nearly 700 pages. It has 11 plays, playwright biographies, and a 30+ page introduction on the history of Mormon drama. We’ve tried to be thorough, we’ve tried to give you something meaningful. I hope you’ll see why this is a project I thought was worth working and waiting for.
Note: James Goldberg asked me to post this information. It’s a very interesting agenda and a low-cost proposition in comparison to other, similar retreats. I highly recommend applying if you can make the travel costs and schedule work. –Wm
Mormon Writers’ Retreat/Master Class Agenda and Application Instructions
The Everdyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class will take place at a cabin near Heber, Utah, on June 27-29. There is no charge for tuition and there is space for all participants to sleep in the cabin: the only costs will be travel to Salt Lake City or Utah Valley (we’ll carpool from there) and food (either purchasing your own or contributing to a group fund if you’d like to share meals).
The agenda will be as follows:
Carpools leave SLC and Utah Valley–travel to Heber and get settled
Discussion Session: Audience Baselines
What are the current obstacles between various extant audiences and Mormon Lit? We’ll discuss concerns/stereotypes readers have about Mormon Lit. We’ll talk about what else potential Mormon Lit readers are currently reading and what it gives them. And then we’ll talk about what roles Mormon literature might productively play for readers.
Class Session: The Parable of the Irritated Oyster
Most writing rises out of an underlying desire to reach people in some way. But often, writing instruction ignores the initial layers of processing between the itch to communicate and the concept for a work, focusing on the later stages from concept to publication.
In this session, we’ll generate some sample itches and then brainstorm ways a writer could develop a concept from each itch, trying to name costs and benefits of choices along the way. more →
Few Church members today remember that when the Relief Society was more independent, it had its own lessons, and one of the monthly lessons focused on literature and the arts. The text below is one of those lessons, from the January 1917.
In many ways this lesson is surprising, and not just for the fact that it was taught. I was surprised at how basic the lesson was, covering material that I think I was taught in High School, although I’m not sure that it sunk in very well. It is tempting, therefore, to think that one reason for dropping these lessons is that they were being taught in school. However, I’m not sure that in 1917 the school system was covering this material very well, and even today I think many Church members would benefit from repeating these lessons, even though they don’t have much to do with doctrine.
Saints on Stage is the most comprehensive and important work on Mormon drama ever published. This volume anthologizes some of Mormonism’s best plays from the last several decades, many of them published here for the first time. Several of these plays have won honors from institutions as varied as the Kennedy Center and the Association for Mormon Letters.
This volume includes historical backgrounds and playwright biographies, as well as an introduction that provides an extensive overview of Mormon drama. The following plays are included:
I should probably keep in mind, as I prepare this summary of the works cited in each Conference, that the custom of including footnotes listing the source documents for statements made in a text is relatively recent, and depends a lot on the preferences of the speaker and the expectations of the audience. Fifty years ago these footnotes were extremely unusual and 100 years ago they were unheard of.
Not that the discourses of 50 or 100 years ago didn’t include references to other works. They did, the custom just wasn’t to put that information in footnotes. The items from General Conference in my Sunday Literary Criticism Sermon series makes that clear.
Even today conference talks sometimes mention works that aren’t included in the footnotes. more →
In July 1915—nearly one hundred years ago—Nephi Anderson traveled to San Francisco to attend meetings at the International Congress of Genealogy held in connection with the Pan-American and Pacific International Exposition. While there, he also attended the exposition’s Utah Day celebration and spent three days seeing the sights. Overall, he writes in his journal, he “had a splendid time.”
He was back in San Francisco five years later, vacationing and conducting some Church business. He stayed at mission headquarters on Hayes Street, where he had Thanksgiving dinner, and attended meetings in Berkeley and Oakland.
The house where Anderson stayed during this second visit (1649 Hayes Street) still stands, although it is now the Emmanuel Church of God in Christ rather than an LDS mission headquarters. I had the opportunity to drive past it last weekend when I was in San Francisco to talk about Anderson at the annual meeting for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies. It’s in a busy neighborhood just north of Golden Gate Park, so I couldn’t find a place to park nearby. I was able to snap two pictures of it, though, before San Francisco’s traffic nudged me along.
Nephi Anderson slept here.
In many ways, Anderson’s history with San Francisco is unremarkable. He was never more than a temporary resident of the city—a vacationer, a passer-through—and what he saw and thought of the city is mostly a matter of conjecture. (As a journal and letter writer, Anderson was an ardent minimalist!) Still, when Sarah Reed, Eric Jepson, and I met last Saturday at the SASS meeting to present papers on his life and work, the fact that he had been to the city and left a brief record of his visit seemed to add to the occasion. As Theric pointed out in his presentation, Anderson’s visits to the city remind us that he was not a provincial writer, holed up behind the mountains of Utah and indifferent to the world beyond Mormonism, but a man who traveled throughout the United States and Europe and became well-acquainted with the important issues and ideas of his day. In fact, it was from this perspective—Anderson as a man of his times—that each of us seemed to approach his work.