In June 2020, Religious Studies lecturer Konden Smith Hansen won the “Best First Book” prize from the Mormon History Association for his recent book, Frontier Religion: Mormons and America, 1857-1907. Frontier Religion examines the dramatic influence popular perceptions of the frontier had on Mormonism and other religions in America. Endeavoring to better understand the sway of the frontier on religion in the United States, this book follows several Mormon-American conflicts, inclusive of the Utah War, the antipolygamy crusades, the Chicago World’s Fair, and the Reed Smoot hearings. The story of Mormonism’s move toward American acceptability represents a larger story of the nation’s transition to modernity and the meaning of religious pluralism. Frontier Religion challenges old assumptions in both American religious and Mormon historiography and provokes further study of the ever-changing dialectic between society and faith.
As a Lecturer for the Department of Religious Studies and Classics, Smith Hansen teaches in person and online courses in Mormonism, religious violence and terrorism, religion and film, American religion, and religion and popular culture.