Is the Demand for Mormon Literature Classes Increasing?

I’ve been following Margaret Young’s plans to teach the “Literature of the Latter-day Saints” class at BYU this coming semester, and I was pleased to see that she has posted her reading list for the course on her blog, and plans to post “parts of the class” on her blog also. I even suggested to my BYU student daughter that she take the class.

Nope. That won’t work. In addition to the students who have grabbed one of the 30 seats for the class, there is a waiting list of 63 (as of this morning).

While I would love to think that this represents a large demand for classes in Mormon literature, I don’t think I can make that claim — I don’t have enough information. I don’t know if the class has been taught regularly — so the backlog could represent the accumulated demand since the last time the class was taught. Its also possible that Margaret is just very popular (a very believable idea, IMO), and students were looking for a class she taught that didn’t have pre-requisites. Hopefully some reader here knows and can tell us why there is so much demand for this class.

If this demand isn’t due to something outside of the demand for a Mormon literature class, then I think its a good sign. And if nearly 100 students at BYU (out of 26,000) are interested in such a class, then how many might there be around the world? Perhaps thousands!

This all reminds me of my suggestion more than a year ago that Mormon literature would be a good fit for an online course (or independent study, or courseware or mooc or whatever you want to call it). While many of these online courses cover topics that are popular on every campus, I think the most important educational gains will come from teaching subjects, like Mormon literature, that aren’t being taught on most campuses because there isn’t enough local interest.

So what does all this mean? If the waiting list at BYU is a good indicator of interest in Mormon literature, then perhaps an online Mormon literature course is a very, very good idea.

Author: Kent Larsen

I grew up in the Washington DC area and served an LDS mission to Portugal. After receiving bachelor's degrees in Accounting and Portuguese from BYU, I came to New York City, where I worked in publishing companies like Henry Holt & Co., Bantam Doubleday Dell (now part of Random House), and North-South Books. I am now the owner of Luso-Brazilian Books (, the largest importer and publisher of Portuguese-language materials for North America. I also run a Mormon-oriented publishing house under the imprint names Mormon Arts and Letters (, Mormon News Books, Latter-day Renaissance and Samuel Lamanite Books (forthcoming).

14 thoughts on “Is the Demand for Mormon Literature Classes Increasing?”

  1. Just FYI, BYU Salt Lake added a second section of the course, and right now there are 19 available spots. I’m not Margaret Young, and this is my first time teaching the course, but I’m working on my syllabus as I speak (came over to the blog to get some supplementary reading material), and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

  2. .

    Gideon Burton taught the class last semester at BYU, but I don’t know what sort of overflow he had.

  3. Thanks, Shelah. I’m totally biased here, but it looks like a fantastic reading list. I hope you have a full class and engaged students!

  4. This is not to detract in any way from Margaret’s class, but I think I prefer Shelah’s approach and text selection. It’s similar to the approach I would take myself.

    Of course, I would swap out Added Upon for Piney Ridge Cottage or even the new edition of Dorian, but, really, I’m just glad that Nephi Anderson in on both syllabi.

  5. I like Margaret’s topical approach, but I also like the approach Shelah is taking. I’m interested to hear how both turn out.

    On another note: I think an open access, online Mormon lit course is very doable and would be welcomed by many people, Kent. An initial course could provide a good introduction to the field for those who don’t know where to look for literature by, for, and about Mormons. I’d be willing to offer my services in co-creation of such a course…

  6. Tyler, I would love it too. Unfortunately, I’ve recently been given a second (stake-level) involved calling along with my early morning seminary duties, so I’m a little short on organizational bandwidth to devote to getting it off the ground. If someone else wants to take the lead on this, I’d be happy to put whatever help I can into it (and that won’t be nothing, because the idea is one I love).

  7. I’m busy through March, but after March my schedule will be mostly open for that kind of project. I could participate in some preliminary planning now and attack it in earnest in April. I don’t have much experience in online education, though, so I’d have to learn the ropes as well. So, I’m willing to offer my services in co-creation as well…

  8. Tyler, Kent, and Scott,

    I could do so helping with a course. Would it help ease the workload if we all agreed on a framework that included individual lessons from different voices? If so, I could put together a lesson or two.

  9. Scott: I’ve done quite a bit of online teaching (in fact, that’s all I’ve done the past two semesters) so I can offer pointers, etc., as we move forward, if you like.

    First, though, like James suggests, I think building a course framework is a good place to begin. I’ll share some of my ideas in the next week or two (if I remember) and we can start the process.

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