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WGS Brown Bag: 'Feminist Foremothers: Mormon Women in the Nineteenth Century'

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017

Karen Smyth, doctoral student in American Studies, will present "Feminist Foremothers: Mormon Women in the Nineteenth Century," as part of the Women and Gender Studies Brown Bag series from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Room 144, McGannon Hall.

Smyth’s talk examines the links between nineteenth century Mormon women and feminists within the Church of Latter-Day Saints in the 1970s. "Feminism has always existed in Mormonism," wrote a practicing Mormon and theologian in 1993. The words and deeds of nineteenth century Mormon women were an inspiration to LDS feminists in the 1970s, at a time when the Latter-day Saint leaders were widely opposing the Equal Rights Amendment.

The talk’s key questions include:

  • How was the Church talking about pioneer foremothers in the 1970s?
  • How did both camps utilize the foremothers in similar and different ways?
  • What does that say to us about modernity, looking back at the past, at Mormons’ cosmic time memory, how they understand their history?
  • Were these women feminists and how could they exercise their rights during a time of polygamy?

Smyth will discuss these pioneer foremothers and talk about how a long tradition of feminist ideals can exist in a patriarchal religion.

Each semester the WGS Department sponsors a brown bag lunch series at which speakers present their research and engage the audience in discussion about the topic. The topics vary, as do the disciplines of the speakers and the points of view they represent. The setting is informal and also serves as a chance to learn more about the range of Women's and Gender Studies scholarship and to meet students and faculty with similar interests.

Participants should bring lunch. Dessert and beverages are provided.