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U of U Awards First-Ever Mormon Studies Fellowship


April 22, 2010–The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah has awarded the new Fellowship in Mormon Studies to Kate Holbrook, a doctoral candidate at Boston University.

The first of its kind in the nation, the fellowship provides a doctoral student funds to spend a year researching the history, beliefs and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and its members. It was established with a grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.

Holbrook’s research project titled “Radical Food: Mormon Foodways and the American Mainstream” will examine LDS food culture throughout the mid-20th century and how this culture affected the relationship between Mormons and broader society.

“Very little has been written about Mormon foodways in general,” says Holbrook, “even less about 20th century Mormon foodways… Mormon studies to-date has largely passed over the period of 1930 to 1970. My project fills major gaps.” Holbrook will also compare Mormon food culture with those of Islam and Catholicism during the same time period.

Holbrook received a master of theological studies with a focus on comparative religion from Harvard Divinity School in 2001 and is currently concentrating her doctoral studies on religion and society.

Bob Goldberg, professor of history and director of the Tanner Humanities Center, describes Holbrook’s research as “an intriguing exploration of the connections between food, culture and religion and how these factors combined in special ways in Mormon society. The Tanner Humanities Center is excited to extend this research opportunity to Ms. Holbrook.”

Goldberg hopes to make the Mormon studies fellowship a permanent program at the Tanner Humanities Center and has recently created a steering committee with the goal of building an endowment. “I hope the success of this fellowship leads to increased interest in studying Mormon history and culture at the University of Utah,” he said. The steering committee will launch its campaign to raise the $400,000 endowment this month in hopes of insuring “a permanent place for Mormon Studies at the University of Utah,” Goldberg added.

Joining Goldberg on the steering committee are: Martha Bradley, director of the U’s Honors College; Lew Cramer, World Trade Center, Utah CEO; Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; Mike Homer, attorney and chair of the Utah Board of State History; Kirk Jowers, director of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics; Greg Prince, president and CEO of Virion Systems, Inc.; Susan Rugh, Brigham Young University professor of history; and Greg Thompson of the U’s Marriott Library.

To arrange a media interview with Kate Holbrook or Bob Goldberg, contact Josh Elstein at (801) 581-7989 or jelstein@hum.utah.edu. For more information, contact the Tanner Humanities Center at (801) 581-7989 or www.thc.utah.edu.