The Work and the Glory: Historical Fiction and Cultural Narrative in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Metadata[+] Show full item record
In October 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri sanctioned the extermination of the “Mormon” settlers who had been pouring into the state beginning in 1831. His infamous “Extermination Order” quickly put an end to the Mormon War and successfully expelled all Mormons from Missouri. Although the Mormon War became a mere footnote in Missouri history, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have, for over a century, used these stories not only to create a deeper connection to their past but also to inform their collective identity as “modern-day pioneers.” This thesis explores the ways in which author Gerald N. Lund uses the novel series The Work and the Glory to disseminate knowledge of the Mormon War to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In applying a theoretical framework of cultural narrative and collective identity to this case study, this thesis brings Lund’s historical fiction into a larger academic conversation about how authors use historical fiction to represent mass atrocities. This project shows that, although historical fiction is a palatable way to present uncomfortable topics to broader audiences, historical novelists are in danger of creating generalized histories that downplay the multi-faceted nature of historical figures as well as romanticize and distort tragic, real-life events. More importantly, this thesis shows how the author understands and makes sense of genocide through historical fiction. It suggests that scholars of comparative genocide should use more unfamiliar events such as the Mormon War to help better understand the ways in which contemporaries use past atrocities to inform their worldview. It also suggests that the community of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should broaden their understanding of the Mormon War beyond their worldview that Mormon history is somehow separate from the larger narrative of American History.
Table of Contents
Theory -- Historiography -- Methodology -- Analysis -- Conclusion
M.A. (Master of Arts)Graduate Certificate in Holocaust Studies