We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2016 FairMormon Conference. Below you will find an overview of each speaker’s credentials and the title of their presentation.
Stan Carmack is an independent linguistics scholar with a doctorate in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Stanford University as well as a law degree from the same institution. He currently researches topics on Book of Mormon language as it relates to earlier stages of English and serves as a collaborator with Royal Skousen on volume 3 of the critical text project.
Presentation: Finishing up the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project: An Introduction to The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon
Morgan Deane is a military historian and freelance author. He has degrees in history from Southern Virginia University and Norwich University. His publications include Bleached Bones and Wicked Serpents: Ancient Warfare in the Book of Mormon, and the forthcoming, Reassessing the Book of Mormon. He taught history at Brigham Young University-Idaho and has been accepted into the War Studies PhD Program at Kings College London studying the early insurgency of Mao Zedong. He and his daughter live in Las Vegas.
Presentation: Climbing a tree to find a fish: Insurgency in the Book of Mormon
Jill Mulvay Derr has studied the history of Mormon women for more than four decades. In 1973 she joined the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a member of the History Division, directed by Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington. Her association with the Arrington team continued after 1980 when the group transferred to Brigham Young University and became the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History. Derr was Associate Professor of Church History at BYU and served as Managing Director of the Smith Institute from 2003 to 2005, when she rejoined the LDS Church History Department in Salt Lake City. Since her retirement in 2011, she has continued working with colleagues Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, Matthew Grow, and many department volunteers to complete a longtime project, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History, recently published by the Church Historian’s Press. A past president of the Mormon History Association, Derr has published more than two dozen articles in scholarly books and journals and co-authored four books: Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints (1982), with Kenneth W. Godfrey and Audrey M. Godfrey; Women of Covenant (1992) with Janath Russell Cannon and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher; Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry (2009) and Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow (2013), with Karen Lynn Davidson. She and her husband, C. Brooklyn Derr are the parents of four children and ten grandchildren. They reside in Holladay, Utah.
Presentation: Quorum Lost and Found: Eliza R. Snow and the 1868 Restoration of Relief Society
Matthew J. Grow
Matthew J. Grow is Director of Publications at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He leads a team of forty historians, editors, and web specialists creating historical publications for academic and popular audiences. His newest book, which is part of the Joseph Smith Papers, is Council of Fifty Minutes, March 1844-January 1846 (co-editors Ronald Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit Dirkmaat, and Jeffrey Mahas; Church Historian’s Press), due out in September 2016. He is also a co-author of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (co-authors Jill Derr, Carol Madsen and Kate Holbrook; Church Historian’s Press, 2016). In 2015, he authored The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane (co-author Ronald W. Walker, Oxford University Press). Previous books including award-winning biographies of Parley P. Pratt (with Terryl Givens) and Thomas L. Kane. He received his PhD in American history from the University of Notre Dame in 2006.
Presentation: “We, the People of the Kingdom of God”: Insights into the Minutes of the Council of Fifty, 1844-1846
Ralph C. Hancock
Ralph C. Hancock holds degrees from BYU and Harvard, and has taught political philosophy at Brigham Young University since 1987; he is also President of the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs, an independent educational foundation (johnadamscenter.org). His most recent book is The Responsibility of Reason: Theory and Practice in a Liberal-Democratic Age (Rowman & Littlefield), and a new edition of his Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics has recently been published by Saint Augustine’s Press; he has also translated numerous works from French. His chapter, “Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, Relativism and the New Mormon Love-In,” is forthcoming in Van Dyke & Ericson, eds., Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics. Dr. Hancock is also a contributing editor of the quarterly Perspectives on Political Science, an editor at the online scholarly journal SquareTwo.org, which addresses public affairs for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a regular columnist for the Deseret News. Ralph and his wife, Julie, are parents of five and grandparents of thirteen.
Presentation: “Love Wins,” and Charity Loses
Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He has a B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale. He has authored Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian’s Conquest of History; The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China; and Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide. He has also edited The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition; Enduring Ties: Poems of Family Relationships; and the Oxford History of Historical Writing, Vol. 1. Hardy’s “Sacred Texts of the World,” a 36-lecture course for the Teaching Company, was released last year, and follows his earlier course “Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.” Grant and his wife Heather have two children.
Presentation: More Effective Apologetics
A professional passionate about making a difference, Ally Isom is currently the director of the Division of Family and Community Relations in the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her portfolio includes local business, interfaith and community relationships, as well women’s, LGBT and race issues. She has also been a Church spokesperson. Ally previously served as Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications Director and spokesperson, following several years in state agency leadership and extensive experience as a political and campaign consultant. Highlights from her community involvement include service as a Kaysville City Councilmember, the Utah Clean Air Partnership Board, and the Utah Heritage Council. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Brigham Young University, where true to resisted cliché, Ally—the freshman—met her husband, Eric—the returned missionary from Idaho—in Political Science 110. They have four children and one grandchild, and have built a life centered in covenant and commitment. Ally also enjoys reading, cooking, hiking and cultural events.
Presentation: Faith-Centered Dialectics: Talking About Differences Transforms
Patrick Q. Mason
Patrick Q. Mason holds the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where he is also an associate professor of religion and chair of the Religion Department. After earning his BA in History from Brigham Young University, he attended the University of Notre Dame where he earned an MA in International Peace Studies and PhD in History. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including most recently Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (Deseret Book and Neal A. Maxwell Institute), Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945 (Oxford University Press), Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century (University of Utah Press), and later this fall an introductory college textbook called What Is Mormonism? (Routledge). A frequently sought-after expert on Mormonism and religion in American life, Mason has appeared in numerous media outlets including National Public Radio, the Today Show, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Huffington Post. He lives in Claremont, California, with his wife Melissa and their four children.
Presentation: The Courage of Our Convictions: Embracing Mormonism in a Secular Age
Benjamin L. McGuire is a technologist in the field of healthcare in northern Michigan, where he lives with his wife and three children. He has special interest in the field of literary theory and its application to the Book of Mormon and early LDS literature. He has previously published with the Maxwell Institute, and with Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and currently serves on the Interpreter Editorial Board.
Presentation: The Book of Mormon as a Communicative Act: Translation in Context
A native of southern California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, where he has taught Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors, and various other occasional specialized classes. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics–including a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007)—and has lectured across the United States, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and at various Islamic universities in the Near East and Asia. He served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission (1972-1974), and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also presided for a time as the bishop of a singles ward adjacent to Utah Valley University. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: The Logic-Tree of Life, or, Why I Can’t Manage to Disbelieve
Matthew Roper is Research Associate at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He received a BA in history and an MA in sociology from BYU. Matt has had a long and abiding interest in the Book of Mormon and has published on issues such as warfare, Lehite social structure, interpretations of Book of Mormon geography, and other topics relating to the ancient pre-Columbian setting for the book. He also compiled and is responsible for the Harold B. Lee Library’s electronic collection 19th-Century Publications about the Book of Mormon (1829–1844). His current research and publication efforts focus on questions of Book of Mormon authorship, historical and contemporary interpretations, and the intellectual history of Latter-day Saint scripture. He is married to Julie (Kane). They live in Provo, Utah, and have five children.
Presentation: ‘To Inflict the Wounds of Death’: Mesoamerican Swords and Cimeters in the Book of Mormon
Kathryn H. Shirts
Kathryn H. Shirts holds a BA from Stanford in history and an MTS from Harvard Divinity School in American Church History. She co-authored A Trial Furnace: Southern Utah’s Iron Mission, and she has given presentations at the BYU Women’s Conference, the Mormon History Association, and the Church History Symposium. She is married to Randall Shirts, and they have six children and five grandchildren.
Presentation: “Daughters of Christ”: Finding Language to Talk about Women and Priesthood
Royal Skousen is Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University and the editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project (from 1988 to the present). In linguistics he is known for his theory of Analogical Modeling and the quantum computing implementation of it, called Quantum Analogical Modeling.
Presentation: Finishing up the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project: An Introduction to The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon
Brian Stubbs received his M.A. in linguistics under foremost specialists in Uto-Aztecan and a near PhD(ABD) in Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic), which enabled him to publish the reference work Uto-Aztecan Comparative Vocabulary, lauded by linguists, followed by Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan. His latest book, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, explains the relevance of all such to the languages of Book of Mormon peoples. He and his wife Silvia have five children and thirteen grandchildren.
Presentation: Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now
Wendy Ulrich, PhD, is a psychologist and former president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, and has been a visiting professor at Brigham Young University. She has authored numerous articles and books, including Weakness is Not Sin, The Temple Experience, and Let God Love You. She is the founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, offering seminar-retreats for LDS women and their loved ones (sixteenstones.net). She and her husband Dave Ulrich have three children and eight grandchildren.
Presentation: What I hope we will teach our daughters (and sons) about the priesthood