This lecture takes up Joseph Smith in the context of the American history of sexuality. It addresses the place of sex, embodiment, and plural marriage in the writings of Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith, and considers the strange fate of polygamy as the Mormons flee to the American West after Smith's murder. It asks particularly how later Mormon entanglements with Native Americans - who play so central a part in Mormon cosmology and who also, like the Mormons, considered themselves a sovereign people within the United States - helped shape Mormon polygamy into the manically patriarchal institution it became. Lecture followed by a roundtable discussion with refreshments.
This event is sponsored by the Americas Before 1900 Working Group, DISCO (Diversity and Identity Studies Collective at OSU) and Sexuality Studies.
Peter Coviello has been at Bowdoin College since 1998, where he specializes in nineteenth-century American literature and queer studies, and where he has served as Chair of the departments of English, Africana Studies, and Gay and Lesbian Studies. He is the editor of Walt Whitman’s Memoranda During the War, and author of Intimacy in America: Dreams of Affiliation in Antebellum Literature, and of Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America. His work has appeared in PMLA, ELH, American Literature, GLQ, and MLQ as well as in venues like Frieze and The Believer.