Creating Space and Place: The Life of a Mormon Polygamous Woman, Amy Teresa Leavitt Richardson

Bonnie Bastian Moore, Utah State University

This work made publicly available electronically on April 10, 2012.


This thesis focuses on the life of one woman, Amy Teresa Leavitt Richardson, who employed practical jokes, humor, and the assertion of will to cross gendered social boundaries and appropriate decision-making authority. At a time when the Cult of True Womanhood prevailed in America at large, confining females to the domestic sphere, Teresa claimed space for herself as a Mormon woman in her patriarchal church and male-run village. Within the liminal wilderness spaces of the West and the liminal psychological and social spheres where men and women tried to hammer out day-to-day living arrangements within Mormon polygamy, Teresa creatively employed pranks and humor. I discuss her actions in terms of the traditional realm of women in the nineteenth century and in terms of humor theory, analyzing the way her pranks worked to change social structure and identity, not only for Teresa but also for the close-knit sisterhood of Mormon women in Colonia Diaz, Mexico.