Toward a Mormon Literary Theory | BYU Studies

Toward a Mormon Literary Theory

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Toward a Mormon Literary Theory

Author Jack Harrell

Is there a Mormon literary theory? Jack Harrell, a professor at BYU–Idaho and writer of fiction, suggests that perhaps such a theory does exist, at least implicitly—a de facto Mormon literary theory that is yet to be delineated. This article is an attempt to begin that delineation. Harrell first gives a brief overview of LDS literary criticism, using Eugene England's four periods of Mormon literature (Foundations, Home Literature, Lost Generation, and Faithful Realism) to set the stage for the parameters he believes should define a Mormon literary theory. This theory should be deeply rooted in LDS theology, reflecting Mormon cosmology, Mormon myths and archetypes, Mormon culture, Mormon understanding of "the Word," the redemptive power of art, and a Mormon sense of ethics, especially questions of good and evil. A final appeal is that Mormon literary theory cannot reside in postmodernism; instead, it may resonate more with the New Sincerity, or post-postmodernism.