Juvenile Instructor

Future of Mormon History Publishing by Benjamin Park
October 29, 2007, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Ben, Publishing

University of Illinois Press has been one of the major reasons for the flowering of Mormon scholarship in recent decades. Many groundbreaking pieces have been published through this venue, and many of their books can be found on all of our book shelves. This made it all the more difficult when rumors started trickling out that they were not going to be doing Mormon history anymore. The rumor was that since Elizabeth Dulany retired, the press did not want to accept any more books for this genre.

As a piece of good news, Chris, Jared, and I had the opportunity to talk to Kathryn Daynes (author of More Wives Than One, published by the University of Illinois Press), and she said that this rumor is not completely true. It turns out that Liz’s retirement just caused a minor set-back (I guess 5 editors left with her, which left a big pile-up of work to do), but that they still plan on continuing their tradition of scholarly Mormon work. In fact, they just contacted her [Daynes] this last week saying that they have the intention to re-print her book in paperback. She says that it may take a while for them to get running again, but that they do have the intention to continue to publish quality work in this field.

So, my question is, where is the future for Mormon history scholarship? This is a broad question, so maybe we can focus on the field of publishing. Does it seem we have a broad range of publishers, or are we still lacking? University of Illinois Press will (hopefully/eventually) continue carrying the torch. Signature Books publishes some quality material. Oklahoma Press seems to have a good series going. University of Utah seems to have flirted with the idea. Oxford may have a future with Givens, Mountain Meadows, etc. Will all these presses remain on equal ground? Will others arise?