Y. symposium to focus on Mormons, media

Published: Monday, Nov. 8 2010 8:00 a.m. MST

PROVO, Utah — As a response to the growing Mormon presence within popular media culture, politics and events, an inaugural symposium, "Mormon Media Studies: Across Time, Space, and Disciplines," will be held at the Brigham Young University campus Nov. 11 and 12.

The symposium will feature more than 30 academic paper presentations on Mormons and the media; panel discussions on Mormon bloggers, LDS Church public relations, Mormon film and more; and film screenings, documentaries and discussions. "Lunch and a Movie" and "Night at the Movies" film screenings will be held at noon and in the evenings featuring rare and unique Mormon-themed films. The idea for the symposium came about because of the increasing visibility and involvement of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the media, particularly in recent years, explained Sherry Baker, a BYU Department of Communications faculty member and an organizer of the conference.

"This first-ever interdisciplinary Mormon Media Studies Symposium will focus on the academic study of all aspects of Mormons and the media, in the present as well as the past," said Dr. Baker.

Featured keynote speaker will be Terryl Givens, professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond. Dr. Givens will speak on the subject of "Fraud, Philanderers and Football: Negotiating the Mormon Image." Plenary speakers are Daniel Stout, graduate coordinator in the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and co-editor of the Journal of Media and Religion; and Sterling Van Wagenen, co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, former director of content for BYU Broadcasting, and currently an executive producer with the Audio Visual Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Because the media is such a powerful force in shaping societal perceptions, it is vital to explore the interconnection between the media and Mormonism. We look forward to hearing from media experts across the academic and professional worlds as they share the importance of this relationship in the past and explore its possible direction in the future," said Brad Rawlins, communications department chair.

The symposium is free to the public and is sponsored by the BYU Department of Communications, BYU Broadcasting and BYU Studies. The symposium takes place in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of BYU Broadcasting and the 10th Anniversary of BYU Television. No pre-registration is required.

For more information on the Mormon Media Studies Symposium, visit the symposium website at ce.byu.edu/cw/mmstudies/.

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