Seeing Things: Technologies of Vision and the Making of Mormonism
University of North Carolina Press, 2023. Print-on-demand. Paperback. 254pp. In this theoretically rich work, Mason Kamana Allred unearths the ways Mormons have employed a wide range of technologies to translate events, beliefs, anxieties, and hopes into reproducible experiences that contribute to the growth of their religious systems of meaning. Drawing on methods from cultural history, media studies, and religious studies, Allred focuses specifically on technologies of vision that have shaped Mormonism as a culture of seeing. These technologies, he argues, were as essential to the making of Mormonism as the humans who received, interpreted, and practiced their faith.
While Mormons’ uses of television and the internet are recent examples of the tradition’s use of visual technology, Allred excavates older practices and technologies for negotiating the spirit, such as panorama displays and magic lantern shows. Fusing media theory with feminist new materialism, he employs media archaeology to examine Mormons’ ways of performing distinctions, beholding as a way to engender radical visions, and standardizing vision to effect assimilation. Allred’s analysis reveals Mormonism as always materially mediated and argues that religious history is likewise inherently entangled with media. New. Item #37001