Date of Award:

8-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Joyce Kinkead

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Lisa Gabbert

Third Advisor:

Jennifer Reeve

Abstract

What is the sense of place of Mormon agricultural landscapes? That is to say, what makes an LDS Church-owned welfare farm or a Mormon family garden meaningful to those who interact with it? In formulating a partial answer to this question, this thesis demonstrates how religious ideals of self-reliance and social welfare explicitly define Mormon agricultural landscapes, providing a sacred sense of their purpose to those who work and benefit from them. However, these sacred landscapes are complicated by developments of industrial agricultural equipment, corporate institutions, and urban demographics, which tend to isolate people from each other and the land they live from while developing in them a false sense of independence and sustainability. The LDS Church and its membership have learned to mitigate these negative implications to a degree, though I suggest doctrinal reasons they could do better.

As case studies, this thesis examines the motives and methods of an industrially scaled Church welfare farm in Blue Creek, Utah and a Mormon family garden in Bluffdale, Utah. Contextualized within relevant American and Mormon history, I explore the paradoxical sense of place of Mormon agricultural landscapes where ideals of self-reliance and social welfare thrive and social isolation and emotional interconnection coexist, which makes room for principles of economic efficiency and environmental conservation to find a compromise.

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