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Marianne Meets the Mormons Wins Best Book!

BYU professors honored for their work on 19th-century French depictions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Heather Belnap holds the certificate for the Smith-Petitt Best Book Award.
Photo by John Whitmer Historical Association

On September 22, 2023, Professors Corry Cropper (French), Daryl Lee (19th-Century French Culture and Literature), and Heather Belnap (19th-Century French Art and Culture) received the Smith-Pettit Best Book award for their book, Marianne Meets the Mormons: Representations of Mormonism in Nineteenth-Century France.

Marianne Meets the Mormons, published in October 2022 by University of Illinois Press, explores the 19th-century French fascination with the idea of Mormonism, which they viewed as an exotic, foreign religion. Through plays, musicals, books, and cartoons, the French exaggerated what they knew about Mormonism, using it as a foil to understand changes in their own society. Belnap says, “We were amazed at the amount of material: visual, literary, musical. It was really astonishing and in no way comparable to how other religions were being discussed.” Lee, Cropper, and Belnap’s exploration of this pocket of history brings new insights into French society and can help researchers understand its past and current relationship with Mormonism.

The John Whitmer Historical Association presents the Smith-Pettit Best Book award—which recognizes excellence in content, writing, and historical methodology—to one book every year at their annual conference. Belnap, who traveled to Fredericksburg, Texas, to accept the award says, “We’re very honored. The conference was fantastic.”

Read more about Marianne Meets the Mormons.