Association for Mormon Letters

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The Association for Mormon Letters (AML) is a nonprofit founded in 1976 to "foster scholarly and creative work in Mormon letters and to promote fellowship among scholars and writers of Mormon literature." [1] Other organization mottos have included the promotion of quality writing "by, for, and about Mormons."[2] and promoting the "production and study of Mormon literature."[3] The broadness of this definition of Mormon literature has led the AML to focus on a wide variety of work that has sometimes been neglected in the Mormon community.[3][4]

The association holds an annual conference, usually held in Utah.[5] Proceedings of the conferences were published until 2004.[6] From 1995 to 2010 the AML sponsored AML-List, an e-mail list for the discussion of Mormon literature.[3] List subscribers posted reviews of thousands of Mormon books, films, and other artistic works, which are archived in the association's review database.[7] AML has also published the literary journal Irreantum in 1999-2013 and 2018-[8] and the blog Dawning of a Brighter Day since 2009.[9]


A meeting held in the Church’s Historical Department on April 20, 1976 led to the organization of the association.[10] Lavina Fielding Anderson described the founding of the organization in this way. "[The] Association for Mormon letters [was] founded with the specific purpose of fostering literary criticism. Its genesis lay in a meeting which Maureen Ursenbach Beecher called among a group of friends in the fall of 1976 to discuss the quality and availability of Mormon personal narratives . . . Eugene England and I were among the eight or ten people who came. Gene tossed out the question, “How could we go about organizing a group focused on the criticism of Mormon literature?” . . . We dutifully shifted, on the spot, from academics to activity. Maureen chaired [the] steering committee, formally organized the Association for Mormon letters, and persuaded us that the name should be “for Mormon letters,” not “of Mormon letters.” She also served as its first president, with Gene and I among her successors." [11]

The inaugural symposium of the Association for Mormon Letters held on October 4, 1976, at the Hotel Utah. It featured papers by Richard Cracroft, Leonard J. Arrington, Bruce Jorgensen and Arthur Henry King.[12] Steven Sondrup served as secretary and editor of the proceedings/annual until 1994. Lavinia Fielding Anderson took over as editor of the annual from 1996 to 2004.

The early leadership of the organization participated in editing three anthologies, each published by Signature Books: Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems, edited by Eugene England and Dennis Clark (1989), the short story collection Bright Angels and Familiars: Contemporary Mormon Stories,[13] edited by Eugene England (1992), and the literary criticism collection Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature,[14] edited by Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson (1996).


Since 1978, the AML has given awards to the best work "by, for, and about Mormons." They are juried awards. In 1998, it gave an award for best unpublished novel,[15] an award that has since changed into the Marilyn Brown Novel Award.

The award categories vary from year to year depending on what the AML decides is worthy of honor.


Irreantum, AML's literary/news journal, was founded by Christopher Bigelow in March 1999, succeeding the AML Newsletter, which was published 1977-1998. Christopher Bigelow and Benson Parkinson were the first managing editors. Parkinson stepped down after Summer 2000, and Bigelow continued as managing editor until 2004. Laraine Wilkins was editor from 2004 until her death in September 2006 from injuries sustained in an auto accident.[16] Valerie Holladay and Scott Hatch were co-editors from October 2006.[17] In April 2008 Holladay stepped down, and Hatch soon followed her. Angella Hallstorm became the editor by early 2009. In 2010 Jack Harrell joined Hallstorm as editor, and they alternated issues. In 2011 Hallstorm stepped down, and Josh Allen joined Harrell as an editor. The journal went on hiatus in 2013.[18] AML relaunched the journal as an on-line magazine in Fall 2018, with William Morris as the editor. Many of the back issues are available at Dawning of a Brighter Day.[19]

AML presidents[edit]

Name Term Notes
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher 1976–1977 Church History Department
Neal E. Lambert 1977–1978 BYU English, American Studies
Richard J. Cummings 1978–1979 University of Utah French/Theatre
Eugene England 1979–1980 BYU English. d. 2001
Levi Peterson 1980–1982 Weber State English
Lavina Fielding Anderson 1982–1983 Editor, author
Candadai Seshachari 1983–1984 Weber State English, d. 2015
Edward A. Geary 1984–1985 BYU English
Edward L. Hart 1985–1986 BYU English. d. 2008
John S. Tanner 1986–1988 BYU English
William A. Wilson 1988–1989 BYU English (folklore). d. 2016
Levi Peterson 1989–1990 Weber State English
Bruce Jorgensen 1990–1991 BYU English
Richard Cracroft 1991–1992 BYU English. d. 2012
Ann Edwards Cannon 1992–1993 Author, columnist
Linda Brummett 1993–1994 BYU bookstore
Susan Elizabeth Howe 1994–1995 BYU English
Robert M. Hogge 1995–1996 Weber State English. d. 2017
MaryJan Munger 1996–1997 BYU Studies
Neal W. Kramer 1997–1999 BYU English, BYU Studies
John Bennion 1999–2000 BYU English
Marilyn Brown 2000–2001 Author
Cherry Silver 2001–2002 Author, historian
Neila Sechachari 2002 Weber State English. President-elect; died before taking office
Gideon Burton 2002–2004 BYU English
Melissa Proffitt 2004–2005 Author
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury 2005–2006 (Acting President)
Linda Hunter Adams 2006–2007 BYU Humanities, editor, d. 2016
Eric Samuelsen 2007–2009 BYU Theater
Boyd J. Peterson 2009–2010 UVU Mormon Studies
Margaret Blair Young 2010–2013 BYU English
Glenn Gordon and Kathy Gordon 2013–2014 co-presidents, Musician, Covenant editor
Joe Plicka 2014–2016 BYU-Hawaii English
Sheldon Lawrence 2016–2018 BYU-Idaho Writing Center
Eric W. Jepson 2018– Author, editor, publisher


  1. ^
  2. ^ Henderson, Gae Lyn, "Passionate about Mormon Fiction, Drama, and Film? Discover the Association for Mormon Letters",, Association for Mormon Letters
  3. ^ a b c Bushman, Richard (2013). "The Commencement of Mormon Studies". In Newell, Quincy D.; Mason, Eric (eds.). New perspectives in Mormon studies creating and crossing boundaries. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 208. ISBN 9780806189185.
  4. ^ Anderson, Lavina Fielding (2001). "Tending the Garden with Eugene England" (PDF). Irreantum. 3 (3). Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Review Archive",, Association for Mormon Letters, archived from the original on 28 February 2009 The current review archive is
  8. ^ "Irreantum". Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Tending the Garden with Eugene England" (PDF), Irreantum 3, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 40–42. (article)
  12. ^ Michael Austin, "The Brief History and Perpetually Excuiting Future of Mormon Literary Studies", Mormon Studies Review, Vol. 2 (2015), p. 49
  13. ^ England, Eugene, ed. (1992). Bright angels & familiars : contemporary Mormon stories. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-026-4. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  14. ^ England, edited by Eugene; Anderson, Lavina Fielding (1995). Tending the garden : essays on Mormon literature. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-019-1.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Givens, Terryl C. (2012). People of paradox: a history of Mormon culture ([Reprinted] ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199915989.
  16. ^ Morris, William (September 3, 2006), "In memoriam: Laraine Wilkins",, A Motley Vision
  17. ^ Morris, William (October 13, 2006), "The AML announces new Irreantum editors",, A Motley Vision
  18. ^ Morris, William (November 25, 2013), "Replacing Irreantum: Scope/Positioning",, A Motley Vision
  19. ^ "Irreantum: Dawning of a Brighter Day". Retrieved 9 January 2017.

External links[edit]