As a non-Mormon writer for the PBS film, The Mormons, Jane Barnes found no novels about the Saints’ place in America. Her paper “Notes Toward a New Mormon Fiction,” asks questions about this absence, starting with the whereabouts of a Mormon Sound and Fury or My Antonia. How can Mormon writers look at their experience with the same broad perspective as do William Faulkner, Willa Cather, or even Harriet Beecher Stowe? Should they try? Does the Church inhibit them? What are some of the major themes connected to the Mormon story as it comments on the larger American narrative? Moderator Elbert Peck offers his own brief speculations on why an earlier period of Mormon-American authors “seemed really on the verge of being part of the national conversation, but then that blossoming died.” Other writers on the panel will respond to Barnes’ paper by describing how they deal with–or see no reason for dealing with–the national context in their own work.
ELBERT EUGENE PECK, JANE BARNES, KAREN ROSENBAUM, ELLEN FAGG WEIST, STEVE WILLIAMS