Exceptionally Queer

Exceptionally Queer

Mormon Peculiarity and U.S. Nationalism

K. Mohrman

How perceptions of Mormonism from 1830 to the present reveal the exclusionary, racialized practices of the U.S. nation-state

376 Pages, 6 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781517911294
  • Published: July 5, 2022
  • eBook
  • 9781452967523
  • Published: July 5, 2022
  • Hardcover
  • 9781517911287
  • Published: July 5, 2022


Exceptionally Queer

Mormon Peculiarity and U.S. Nationalism

K. Mohrman

ISBN: 9781517911294

Publication date: July 5th, 2022

376 Pages

33 b&w illustrations

8 x 5

"K. Mohrman upends normative, contemporary understandings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in relationship to race, queerness, and American nationalism. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, Exceptionally Queer traces how Mormon peculiarity is critical to understanding U.S. nationalism. Whether framed as marginal and a threat to all that America holds dear or being represented as hyper-American nationalists, Mohrman demonstrates that Mormonism is a critical part of the national imaginary and the political discourse that, due to its peculiarity, has not been fully explored until now."—Hōkūlani K. Aikau, author of A Chosen People, a Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawai‘i

"K. Mohrman’s Exceptionally Queer brings much-needed theorizing to the question of Mormon peculiarity. Often discussed as both strange and hypernormal, Latter-day Saints occupy a puzzling place in the American consciousness. The brilliant analysis in this book links Mormonism’s peculiarity and its Americanness to larger issues of American nationalism, imperialism, and racial formation. Scholars of U.S. history, race, sexuality, queer studies, and, of course, Mormonism have much to gain from the powerful lens this book casts on the project of American exceptionalism."—Taylor Petrey, author of Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism

"Mohrman’s evidence and arguments are provocative, engaging, and expand the possibilites for Mormon studies to enter into broader interdisciplinary conversations. Exceptionally Queer cannot—and should not—be ignored. "—Juvenile Instructor


How perceptions of Mormonism from 1830 to the present reveal the exclusionary, racialized practices of the U.S. nation-state

Are Mormons really so weird? Are they potentially queer? These questions occupy the heart of this powerful rethinking of Mormonism and its place in U.S. history, culture, and politics. K. Mohrman argues that Mormon peculiarity is not inherent to the Latter-day Saint faith tradition, as is often assumed, but rather a potent expression of U.S. exceptionalism. 

Exceptionally Queer scrutinizes the history of Mormonism starting with its inception in the early 1830s and continuing to the present. Drawing on a wide range of historical texts and moments—from nineteenth-century battles over Mormon plural marriage; to the LDS Church’s emphases on “individual responsibility” and “family values”; to mainstream media’s coverage of the LDS Church’s racist exclusion of Black priesthood holders, its Native assimilation programs, and vehement opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment; and to much more recent legal and cultural battles over same-sex marriage and on-screen Mormon polygamy—Exceptionally Queer evaluates how Mormonism has been used to motivate and rationalize the biased, exclusionary, and colonialist policies and practices of the U.S. nation-state.

Mohrman explains that debates over Mormonism both drew on and shaped racial discourses and, in so doing, delineated the boundaries of whiteness and national belonging, largely through the consolidation of (hetero)normative ideas of sex, marriage, family, and economy. Ultimately, the author shows how discussions of Mormonism in this country have been and continue to be central to ideas of what it means to be American. 

K. Mohrman is clinical teaching-track assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Denver. She received the 2018–19 LGBTQ Religious History Award.

Introduction: Peculiar, Exceptional, Queer

Part I. Making Mormonism Peculiar

1. Becoming Peculiar, 1830–1852

2. A Peculiar Race with Peculiar Institutions, 1847–1874

3. The Problems of (Mormon) Empire, 1874–1896

Part II. Exceptionally Normal

4. Resignifying Mormon Peculiarity, 1890–1945

5. A Thoroughly American Institution, 1936–1962

6. Making Mormon Peculiarity Colorblind, 1960–1982

Part III. Regulatory Queer Varieties of Mormon Peculiarity

7. Polygamy, or The Racial Politics of Marriage as Freedom

Coda: What Mormonism Can Tell Us about Critical Theory