Association for Mormon Letters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Association for Mormon Letters (AML) is a nonprofit founded in 1976 to promote quality writing "by, for, and about Mormons."[1] 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.[2][3] The association's focus has since shifted on promoting the "production and study of Mormon literature."[2]

The association holds an annual conference, usually held in Utah. Proceedings of the conferences were published until 2003. From 1995 to 2008 the AML sponsored AML-List, an e-mail list for the discussion of Mormon literature.[2] List subscribers posted reviews of thousands of Mormon books, films, and other artistic works, which are archived in the association's review database.[4] Besides the Annual, The AML also published the literary journal Irreantum from 1999 to 2013[5] and the literature blog Dawning of a Brighter Day since 2009.[6]


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." [7]

The inaugural symposium of the Association for Mormon Letters held in 1976 featured papers by Richard Cracroft, Leonard J. Arrington, Bruce Jorgensen and Arthur Henry King.[8]

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,[9] edited by Eugene England (1992), and the literary criticism collection Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature,[10] edited by Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson (1996).


Main article: AML Awards

Since 1977, 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,[11] 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/critical journal, was founded by Christopher Bigelow and Benson Parkinson in 1998. Parkinson stepped down soon thereafter, and Bigelow served as editor until 2004. Laraine Wilkins was editor from 2004 until her death in September 2006 from injuries sustained in an auto accident.[12] Valerie Holladay and Scott Hatch were co-editors from October 2006.[13] In April 2008 Holladay stepped down, and Angella Hallstrom replaced her as co-editor. In 2009 Hatch stepped down, and was replaced by Jack Harrell. In 2011 Hallstrom stepped down, and was replaced by Josh Allen. The journal ceased publication in 2013.[14] Many of the back issues are available at Dawning of a Brighter Day.[15]

AML presidents[edit]

There is a lot of uncertainty in the list, including in its order. In some cases it is unclear whether a person was made President or President-Elect on a certain year.

Name Term Notes
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher 1976 BYU English, retired 1997.
Eugene England  ?-? BYU English. d. 2001
Lavina Fielding Anderson 1983 Editor, author
Margaret R. Munk  ?-? Poly Sci. d. 1986.
Edward A. Geary  ?-? BYU English
Linda Brummett  ?-? BYU bookstore
Candadai Seshachari  ?-? Weber State English, d. 2015
William A. Wilson 1988 BYU English (folklore). d. 2016
Levi Peterson 1989- Weber State English, retired
Edward L. Hart prior to 1991 BYU English. d. 2008
Bruce Jorgensen c. 1991 BYU English
John S. Tanner c. 1992 BYU English
Richard Cracroft c. 1993 BYU English. d. 2012
Ann Edwards Cannon c. 1993 Author, columnist
Susan Elizabeth Howe c. 1996 BYU English
Robert M. Hogge c. 1997 Weber State English
MaryJan Munger c. 1998 BYU Studies
Neal W. Kramer[16] c. 1999 BYU, 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– BYU-Idaho English


  1. ^ Henderson, Gae Lyn, "Passionate about Mormon Fiction, Drama, and Film? Discover the Association for Mormon Letters",, Association for Mormon Letters 
  2. ^ a b c Bushman, Richard (2013). "The Commencement of Mormon Studies". In Newell, Quincy D.; Mason, Eric. New perspectives in Mormon studies creating and crossing boundaries. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 208. ISBN 9780806189185. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Lavina Fielding (2001). "Tending the Garden with Eugene England" (PDF). Irreantum. 3 (3). Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Review Archive",, Association for Mormon Letters, archived from the original on 28 February 2009 
  5. ^ "Irreantum". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "About AML". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Tending the Garden with Eugene England" (PDF), Irreantum 3, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 40–42. (article) 
  8. ^ Michael Austin, "The Brief History and Perpetually Excuiting Future of Mormon Literary Studies", Mormon Studies Review, Vol. 2 (2015), p. 49
  9. ^ England, Eugene, ed. (1992). Bright angels & familiars : contemporary Mormon stories. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-026-4. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Givens, Terryl C. (2012). People of paradox: a history of Mormon culture ([Reprinted] ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199915989. 
  12. ^ Morris, William (September 3, 2006), "In memoriam: Laraine Wilkins",, A Motley Vision 
  13. ^ Morris, William (October 13, 2006), "The AML announces new Irreantum editors",, A Motley Vision 
  14. ^ Morris, William (November 25, 2013), "Replacing Irreantum: Scope/Positioning",, A Motley Vision 
  15. ^ "Irreantum: Dawning of a Brighter Day". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Kramer, Neal (10 July 2008). "Neal and Leila's blog". Neal and Leila's Family. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 

External links[edit]