“Secret Knowledge, Public Stage: Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse”

—Richard Benjamin Crosby

“Richard Benjamin Crosby turns to the marginalized community and distinctive voice of the early Mormon Church, analyzing how Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse of 1844 helped adherents of this burgeoning religion to develop new practices of knowing on the American frontier. Crosby shows how the coalescence of lecture culture, folk magic, and radical democracy gave the much-maligned Mormons a distinctive yet quintessentially American voice. Smith’s discourse, Crosby demonstrates, brought together markedly distinctive knowledge cultures and, at the same time, situated the church in a unique relationship to the forms of knowledge production that then defined mainstream inquiry” (pp. 17).

Selected Bibliography on Religion and American Culture

Bloom, Harold. The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Brooke, John L. The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Forsberg, Clyde R. Equal Rites: The Book of Mormon, Masonry, Gender, and American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Givens, Terryl. People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Gunn, Joshua. Modern Occult Rhetoric: Mass Media and the Drama of Secrecy in the Twentieth Century. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010.

Hatch, Nathan O. The Democratization of American Christianity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.

Relevant People

Joseph Smith