May 18, 2012 – The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah is proud to announce the awarding of the 2012-2013 Fellowship in Mormon Studies to Rosemary Avance, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. This fellowship was originally established with a generous two-year grant in 2010 from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, which has recently renewed its support for the fellowship for an additional two years. The first of its kind, the fellowship provides a Ph.D. candidate, chosen by a committee consisting of members from the academic and wider communities, with funds to spend a year researching the history, beliefs, and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.
Avance is currently a doctoral candidate with a focus on religious identity and cultural studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She received an M.A. in communication from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010.
Avance’s research project is entitled “Voices and Silences: On the Dialogic Construction of Mormon Identities,” and will consider the ways that modern Mormon identities are rendered from multiple, often conflicting sources: secular authorities, faithful members, the media, heterodox and former Mormons. Her project seeks to contribute to an understanding of Mormon religious identity as a blend of voices and silences in the ritual sphere.
Bob Goldberg, professor of history and director of the Tanner Humanities Center, describes Avance’s research as “an intriguing examination of the formation of LDS social and religious identities in the current ‘Mormon moment.’ The Tanner Humanities Center is excited to extend this research opportunity to Ms. Avance.”
The Tanner Humanities Center hopes to make the Mormon studies fellowship a permanent opportunity and has created a steering committee with the goal of building an endowment. “I hope the success of this fellowship,” says Goldberg, “leads to increased interest in studying Mormon history and culture at the University of Utah.”
The steering committee has launched a campaign to raise the $400,000 endowment and is currently over halfway toward its goal. “This endowment will insure a continuing place for Mormon Studies at the University of Utah,” says Goldberg. Joining him on the steering committee are: Professor Martha Bradley, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah; World Trade Center, Utah CEO Lew Cramer; Spencer P. Eccles, executive director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development; Kim Wirthlin, associate vice president for Health Sciences at the University of Utah; Attorney and Chair of the Utah Board of State History Mike Homer; Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and co-director of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah; Jess Hurtado of Hurtado and Associates; Dr. Greg Prince, president and CEO of Virion Systems, Inc.; Brigham Young University Professor of History Susan Rugh; Attorney James McConkie; and Greg Thompson of the University of Utah Marriott Library.
For more information on the Mormon studies fellowship, contact the Tanner Humanities Center at (801) 581-7989 or visit: www.thc.utah.edu.