People of Paradox : A History of Mormon Culture: A History of Mormon Culture

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA, Jul 30, 2007 - Religion - 432 pages
31 Reviews
In People of Paradox, Terryl Givens traces the rise and development of Mormon culture from the days of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, through Brigham Young's founding of the Territory of Deseret on the shores of Great Salt Lake, to the spread of the Latter-Day Saints around the globe. Throughout the last century and a half, Givens notes, distinctive traditions have emerged among the Latter-Day Saints, shaped by dynamic tensions--or paradoxes--that give Mormon cultural expression much of its vitality. Here is a religion shaped by a rigid authoritarian hierarchy and radical individualism; by prophetic certainty and a celebration of learning and intellectual investigation; by existence in exile and a yearning for integration and acceptance by the larger world. Givens divides Mormon history into two periods, separated by the renunciation of polygamy in 1890. In each, he explores the life of the mind, the emphasis on education, the importance of architecture and urban planning (so apparent in Salt Lake City and Mormon temples around the world), and Mormon accomplishments in music and dance, theater, film, literature, and the visual arts. He situates such cultural practices in the context of the society of the larger nation and, in more recent years, the world. Today, he observes, only fourteen percent of Mormon believers live in the United States. Mormonism has never been more prominent in public life. But there is a rich inner life beneath the public surface, one deftly captured in this sympathetic, nuanced account by a leading authority on Mormon history and thought.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Great overview of Mormon culture. - Goodreads
A very good overview of the history of Mormon art. - Goodreads
... very well researched and presented. - Goodreads
And a good introduction to Mormon sociology in a way. - Goodreads

Review: People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

User Review  - Camille Baird - Goodreads

thought provoking although a little verbose in places. very well researched and presented. not a book to speed read. Read full review

Review: People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

User Review  - Greg Diehl - Goodreads

POP is Givens at his best. Turning a Mormon cliche on its ear, I've often wondered if it was feasible to be fully "in" the church and not "of" the cultural foibles it tends to generate. This may be ... Read full review


THE VARIETIES OF MORMON CULTURAL EXPRESSION Beginnings 18301890 The Dancing Puritans
THE VARIETIES OF MORMON CULTURAL EXPRESSION A Movable Zion 1890Present Pioneer Nostalgia and Beyond the American Religion
Through the Particular to the Universal

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2007)

Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond. His books on Mormonism and American religious culture include The Latter-Day Saint Experience in America, By the Hand of Mormon, and Viper on the Hearth.

Bibliographic information