OUTSIDE AND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LADDER: HOW MORMON STUDIES LOOKS TO A NON-LDS YOUNG SCHOLAR Seth Perry is a non-Mormon Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago Divinity School who is pursuing a career in Mormon Studies. His presentation will describe how he became interested in the field and some of the perils of discussing his chosen subject, formally and informally, with fellow outsiders and LDS Church members. These challenges, generally, the skepticism of outsiders and the faith-promoting interests of members, serve as a microcosm of some of the questions of method and audience which loom large for a non-Mormon just starting out in the field. The interpretive problems that beset the academic study of religion, issues of faith and scholarship, of the status of insiders and outsiders, of the parochialism that religion tends to bring out in scholars as much as in everyone else, are displayed in particularly stark relief with respect to the study of Mormonism, and are significant challenges to a student looking for a voice and audience within the evolving discipline.
Seth Perry and Dan Wotherspoon