English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation leverages archival theory, public memory theory, feminist historiography, and rhetorical theory to argue that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reinterpreted the Mormon past to engender identification and foster political action during the Equal Rights Amendment ratification period (1976-1981). Chapter One provides readers with an orientation to the Sandra Allen Collection of Papers on Mormonism and argues that its creator, Sandra Allen, marshaled her understanding of archiving, history writing, and institutional archives to make her history public. Chapter Two: On Memory uses theories of public memory to explain why the Mormon Church built the Nauvoo Monument to Women (MTW). The chapter posits that public monuments are pedagogical: They argue in the epideictic register for what should be by praising a past. By providing an explanation of the historical context in which the MTW was erected, the chapter demonstrates that the Mormon Church sought to assuage feelings of resentment among women. Its statues, physical location, and dedication suggest the MTW is less a representation honoring the past than a means of representing womens ideally embodied roles. Chapter Three: On History argues that Mormons draw from and build upon their history as means of self-identification. Church leaders foster this identification by calling upon members to contribute to history by producing personal journals, books of remembrance, and genealogies. The process of creating home archives engenders an ongoing practice of self-discipline, wherein members perform Mormon ethe. Chapter Four: On Forgetting examines the discourses that brought about and ultimately suppressed a 'Golden Age' of Mormon history. By offering a history of Mormon historiography, the chapter argues that the Church silenced professional historians. At the same time, the family history methodology the Church forwarded conceals structural inequality. The chapter asserts that the Mormon Church silenced counter-memories to prevent them from gaining purchase among stakeholders. After summarizing the major arguments presented, the dissertation's conclusion offers heuristic derived from the Roman god, Janus, as a tool for imaginative speculation on theorizing resistance to institutional rhetorics.'

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Advisor

Romano, Susan

Second Advisor

Paine, Chuck

First Committee Member (Chair)

Warner, Sharon Oard

Second Committee Member

Mountford, Roxanne

Third Committee Member





Rhetoric, Feminist, Mormon, Equal Rights Amendment, History, Historiography, Archive, Materialist

Document Type