Friday, December 08, 2006

BYU Studies, v45 #3

BYU Studies
Volume 45, no. 3, © 2006

Few stories have captured the hearts of Latter-day Saints like the account of the rescuers from the Salt Lake Valley carrying members of the Martin Company across the freezing Sweetwater River. In "The Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater: Another Look," Chad Orton shares his thorough research on the rescue and its aftereffects on the men involved. His work gives a more complete history that is even more moving than the well-known versions of the story.

Valerie Atkisson, a Mormon artist living in New York, expresses her interest in her family's history by creating artworks about them. An article by Josh E. Probert examines the meanings of her artwork and how that art integrates Mormon themes with the world of Contemporary art. Full-color photos display how Atkisson uses nontraditional media from paper clips to goatskin to represent histories and relationships.

Most Latter-day Saints know that Joseph Smith and his followers drained a disease-infested swamp to make Nauvoo, Illinois, habitable. But nobody today understood much about how the early Saints accomplished this feat until three BYU professors of civil and environmental engineering and one of their graduate students combined conventional historical research with a modern engineering analysis to explain the drainage of the Nauvoo swamplands. A description of their study is found in "Transforming Swampland into Nauvoo, the City Beautiful: A Civil Engineering Perspective."

Renowned scholar Mark A. Noll, recently appointed Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, offers an intriguing look at what the Catholic Church was saying about the Mormons in 1860. Noll examines "Mormonism in Connection with Modern Protestantism," an article that appeared in a notable Italian journal in May 1860. The article was written by an aristocratic cardinal archbishop, Karl August von Reisach. BYU Studies presents the article in its first English translation as well as Noll's perceptive analysis of the document.

Nathaniel Hinckley Wadsworth's "Copyright Law and the Book of Mormon" relates the story of Joseph Smith obtaining a copyright for the Book of Mormon in 1829 and examines the laws that were in force at that time. Joseph had to defend his copyright against a pirate publisher even before the book was completely printed, so his legal rights were essential. The article contains photos of the original copyright application and accompanying proof sheet of the Book of Mormon title page.

In a review essay of Richard Bushman's Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, David Whittaker recognizes the importance of this biography and informs readers of the difficulty of working with extant sources on Joseph. Whittaker warns that the book is not for the "historical tourist," but rather for those who are willing to explore new perspectives on the Prophet.

No comments: