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“The Gospel of Intelligence and Culture”: Literature and Literary Instruction in the Twentieth-Century MIA Curriculum

Title“The Gospel of Intelligence and Culture”: Literature and Literary Instruction in the Twentieth-Century MIA Curriculum
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsAustin, Michael, and Rachel Meibos Helps
JournalBYU Studies
Volume62
Issue2
Pagination139–179
KeywordsEducation; Latter-day Saint History (1847-1893); Latter-day Saint History (1893-1955); Literature
Abstract

All of the initiatives we have discussed here—the libraries, the literary lessons, and the different iterations of the reading course—were designed to help create a unique Latter-day Saint literary culture capable of fitting into American and world cultures but also of enlarging them. The women and men who implemented these initiatives had such a comprehensive view of their religion that they could not help but see the canons of world literature as a logical part of their own scriptural inheritance. The core assumptions that move through all these programs for literary instruction come from the theological heart of the Latter-day Saint religion as it was understood by people like Orson F. Whitney, Susa Young Gates, John A. Widtsoe, and Ruth May Fox. The religion they loved taught them that reading is important, that inspiration is universal, that writing is a form of prophecy, and that mutual improvement is part of God’s plan. And they believed with all their hearts that all human beings have a spiritual obligation to seek out the best books and use them as entry points to the mind of God.

URLhttps://byustudies.byu.edu/article/the-gospel-of-intelligence-and-culture/