Filling the Void: the Mormon Moment in nineteenth century Scottish writing

Date(s) - 13/03/2013
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Room 2.12 Appleton Tower


SWINC invites you to three talks about the role of Mormonism in nineteenth century Scotland, chaired by Dr Penny Fielding.

‘Zion is Fled’: Scottish Mormons Gather to the American West (Deborah Holm)
Why did Scots leave their lush island to live in a forsaken desert? The Mormon doctrine of ‘gathering’ and the location of Temples along with fears of persecution and hopes of material and spiritual rewards drew Scottish converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Utah.

‘The Tyranny of Mormonism’: Nineteenth Century Anti-Mormon Writing (Sarah Ames)
Towards the end of the nineteenth century a burgeoning genre of anti-Mormon literature associated the Latter-day Saints with polygamous ‘crimes against nature’, violence and secrecy. Such writing took the form of travel narratives, exposés and short stories – such as the tales written by Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle. This paper considers the widespread suspicion of Mormons, and in particular their representation in both ‘factual’ and ‘fictional’ accounts as a secret society.

Filling the Void: Stevenson’s and Conan Doyle’s Incorporation of Mormon Antagonists in ‘The Dynamiter’ and ‘A Study in Scarlet’ (Brian Wall)
The migration of most British Mormons by the end of the nineteenth century coupled with the stigmatization of Mormon faith and practice left a void of Mormon voices in Scotland: Mormons were talked about, but could not talk back. Here, I will explore how Stevenson and Conan Doyle attempted to give voices to Mormons through their fiction in ways that both enforced the ‘otherizing’ of racial and cultural depictions common to non-fiction anti-Mormon tracts and also complicated those stigmas.