The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy

ISBN : 9780199933808

Terryl L. Givens
256 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Religion in America

In 1997, Terryl Givens's The Viper on the Hearth was praised as a new classic in Mormon studies. In the wake of Mormon-inspired and -created artistic, literary, and political activity - today's "Mormon moment" - Givens presents a revised and updated edition of his book to address the continuing presence and reception of the Mormon image in contemporary culture. "The Viper on the Hearth by Terryl L. Givens is a remarkably lucid and useful study of the patterns of American prejudices against the Mormon people. It provides also a valuable paradigm for the study of all religious 'heresy'." - Harold Bloom "A well-researched and insightful book...He illuminates the phenomena of religious heresy and persecution generally. The book is thoroughly documented, and Givens writes with a graceful style. This is an excellent example of both historical and literary scholarship." - American Historical Review "Contains provocative insights into American culture, LDS identity, nineteenth-century literature, rhetorics of oppression, and religious formation. The narrative is short, subtle, and crisp; Givens rarely wastes a sentence. A work to be read with patience and care. I highly recommend this book." - Religious Studies Review "The book is sophisticated, long on analysis...He has read widely in the vast secondary literature...and produced a study worthy of its prestigious publisher." - Church History "Widely researched, theoretically informed, and gracefully written, this work is a model of significant interdisciplinary study." - Western American Literature "It could influence American religion studies the same way Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy challenged and changed perceptions. Intelligently conceived,...skillful textual analysis,...exemplary scholarship...It illuminates dilemmas and paradoxes central to American religion and culture generally. The prose, illustrations, and overall construction of the book are aesthetically pleasing. The exemplary scholarship significantly enriches Mormon historiography...Few books succeed, as this one does, in stimulating thought far beyond their own scope." - Journal of Mormon History "A subtlety and sophistication that will delight and enlighten readers. The most detailed and sophisticated study to date of patterns of representation in 19th c anti-Mormonism." - BYU Studies "A powerful and compelling thesis...[an] ingenious reading...Chapter five should become a classic in Mormon Studies. For a great reading experience in thoughtful and independently conceived religious and cultural thinking rare in Mormon studies, turn to this addition in the excellent 'Religion in America Series,' published by Oxford University Press." - Journal of American Ethnic History "Well-researched and illuminating study...Gives us a fresh understanding of the process of myth-making...Locates it arguments in a carefully constructed historical context." - Journal of the Early Republic "In this fascinating study, he examines how Mormons have been constructed as the great and abominable 'other.' Interestingly, although the religion was once scorned for its 'weirdness,' it is now because Mormons occupy what used to be the center that they fall into contempt." - Utah Historical Quarterly "A wonderfully thought-through look at the interrelationships between fiction, religion, and the culture of humor/hostility...It represents a significant contribution to our understanding of literary relations." - Larry H. Peer, Brigham Young University "This is the first full explanation of why Mormons have been demonized by a nation that prides itself on open toleration of all faiths. Givens carefully appraises every past explanation for the printed attacks and physical persecutions that occurred from the 1830s onward, as newspapers, novels, and satires convinced a 'tolerant' public that Mormons should not be tolerated. He then makes a convincing argument that the primary affront the Mormons offered was theological: their anthropomorphic picture of God and of his continuing personal revelations to the one true church. The book is thus an impressive achievement that should interest not just Mormons or other religious believers but anyone who cares about how 'freedom-loving,' 'tolerant' Americans turned 'heretics' into subhuman monsters deserving destruction." - Wayne Booth, University of Chicago (Emeritus)


Part I: Mormonism, Politics, and History
1. "Out of the Sphere of Religion": The Sacred, the Profane, and the Mormons
2. "This Upstart Sect": The Mormon Problem in American History
3. "Manners, Habits, Customs, and Even Dialect": Sources of the Mormon Conflict
4. "An Age of Humbugs": The Contemporary Scene
5. "This Great Modern Abomination": Orthodoxy and Heresy in American Religion
Part II: Mormonism and Fiction
6. "Ground in the Presbyterian Smut Machine": The Popular Press, Fiction, and Moral Crusading
7. "The Ain't Whites...They're Mormons": Fictive Responses to the Anxiety of Seduction
8. "Murder and Mystery - Mormon Style": The Mormon Image in the Twentieth Century


Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond. His books on Mormonism and American religious culture include By the Hand of Mormon, People of Paradox and (with Matthew Grow) Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism.