Paper $29.00 ISBN: 9780226474335 Published November 2019
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Make Yourselves Gods

Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism

Peter Coviello

Make Yourselves Gods

Peter Coviello

304 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $29.00 ISBN: 9780226474335 Published November 2019
Cloth $87.00 ISBN: 9780226474168 Published November 2019
E-book $10.00 to $29.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226474472 Published November 2019
From the perspective of Protestant America, nineteenth-century Mormons were the victims of a peculiar zealotry, a population deranged––socially, sexually, even racially––by the extravagances of belief they called “religion.” Make Yourselves Gods offers a counter-history of early Mormon theology and practice, tracking the Saints from their emergence as a dissident sect to their renunciation of polygamy at century’s end.
 
Over these turbulent decades, Mormons would appear by turns as heretics, sex-radicals, refugees, anti-imperialists, colonizers, and, eventually, reluctant monogamists and enfranchised citizens. Reading Mormonism through a synthesis of religious history, political theology, native studies, and queer theory, Peter Coviello deftly crafts a new framework for imagining orthodoxy, citizenship, and the fate of the flesh in nineteenth-century America. What emerges is a story about the violence, wild beauty, and extravagant imaginative power of this era of Mormonism—an impassioned book with a keen interest in the racial history of sexuality and the unfinished business of American secularism.
 
Contents

Prologue: Winter Quarters

Part One: Axiomatic
1              Introduction: What We Talk about When We Talk about Secularism

Part Two: Joy
2              Endless Felicity: The Radiant Body of Early Mormon Theology
3              Gods in Subjection: Women, Polygamy, and the Eternity of Sex

Part Three: Extermination
4              The Polygamist’s Complexion; or, The Book of Mormon Goes West
5              Wards and Sovereigns: Deviance and Dominion in the Biopolitics of Secularism

Part Four: Theodicy
6              Conclusion: Protohomonationalism

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Review Quotes
Tisa Wenger | Mormon Studies Review
"This is a book you will want to sit with, think with, mull over, and then read over again . . . . Coviello shows himself to be an astute critic of the contradictions, the potentialities, and the mutability of early Mormonism."
Kate Stanley | American Literary History
"Make Yourselves Gods is a record of Coviello’s own conversion—not to Mormonism, but to a belief in the transformative power of belief itself. . . . Coviello breathes newly complex life into the history of nineteenth-century Mormonism."
Cristina Rosetti | Journal of Mormon History
“A challenging and innovative read, Make Yourselves Gods deserves a place on every Mormon studies bookshelf.”
Matthew Bowman | Nova Religio
Make Yourselves Gods offers us among the best proofs yet of how Mormonism can be mobilized to illuminate issues central to our understanding of American history—cultural, religious, or otherwise. The book is an impressive feat, gracefully written and theoretically illuminating.”
Michael Hubbard MacKay | BYU Studies Quarterly
"[Coviello] has swung the door wide open for further research on queer theory and queer critique that could get to the heart of central tension within religion in general, but especially in Mormon studies. . . . His book shouts resoundingly that Mormon studies is one of the most fascinating studies of religion in the history of the United States and can be used as an example to examine even the biggest ideas in the academy." 
Association for Mormon Letters
"In Make Yourselves Gods, Peter Coviello applies new lenses to our story and, using both the history of American secularism and queer studies, makes several proactive arguments; and he does so at times with a beautiful prose I have meticulously underlined."
Benjamin Park, author of 'Kingdom of Nauvoo'
“One of the harbingers of the Mormon studies field’s development has been the increasing number of scholars who have turned their attention to the faith in order to explain broader academic issues. The most recent contribution to this growing trend is Peter Coviello, literature scholar and author of a handful of well-received books, whose Make Yourselves Gods: Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism was published in the University of Chicago Press’s prestigious Class 200 series. This series, edited by Kathryn Lofton and John Modern, prides itself on being interdisciplinary, innovative, and provocative; Make Yourselves Gods is no different.”
Joan Wallach Scott, author of Sex and Secularism
“From a reviled set of bad beliefs and practices, Mormonism became a good white American religion by the end of the nineteenth century by redirecting the carnal life of the spirit to the reproduction of the domestic nuclear family. Make Yourselves Gods is at once a revisionist history of Mormonism and a critical engagement with theories of secularism, told with shining clarity in breathless, gorgeous prose.”
Nancy A. Bentley, University of Pennsylvania
“Full of splendid insight and erudition, Make Yourselves Gods explores the ‘imaginative wildness’ of early Mormon thought in tandem with the orthodoxies of secularism that attempted to suppress and discipline this distinctive cosmology, providing an unprecedented way of thinking about how religion and ‘bad belief’ are vital to American biopolitics.”
Molly McGarry, University of California, Riverside
“Coviello writes a genealogy of foreclosed intimacies and vexed affiliations, a tale of queer worlds lost or at least winnowed by the wages of U.S. whiteness, citizenship, and territorial recognition. An indispensable intervention in ‘postsecular critique,’ this book contains multitudes.”

John Whitmer Historical Association: Best Book Award
Finalist

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