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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the eighteenth-century concept of sensibility as it took form in popular culture in the United States in the early nineteenth century. Although later generations made fun of the weeping sentimentality of parlor poetry and embroidered memorials to the dead, nineteenth-century Americans believed that a pen mark on a page or a twined lock of hair could animate invisible chords in the body that connected one person to another through memory. To write about Mormonism in relation to sensibility may seem odd, since to outsiders the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seemed the epitome of grim-faced patriarchy, with its embrace of polygamy and attempt at theocratic government. A closer look at the rich materials preserved in its archives shows the many ways in which early Saints used common cultural forms to express unique religious belief such as baptism for the dead. Latter-day Saints celebrated plural unions in the language of sentimental friendship. Like other Americans, they used tangible things to cross boundaries of space and time.

Keywords: friendship, hair, Latter-day Saint, memory, Mormon, mourning, polygamy, sensibility, sentimentality, temple

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