Brigham Young University
Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis

Chapter 8
Arts, Entertainment, & Literature

The Place of Aesthetics

[p. 305]The Mormon commitment to drama, music, and belles lettres extends back to the 1840s and 1850s, though frontier realities often forced pioneers to be content with promises rather than performances. As an extension of the LDS church, Brigham Young Univeristy inherited both the promises and the delayed performances. School officials demonstrated a concern for the arts ahead of many institutions of their sister states. Backed by an optimistic President Franklin S. Harris, BYU became in 1925 one of the first universities west of the Mississippi River to boast a formal College of Fine Arts, with departments in art, music, and drama. But until the 1960s, the struggling college suffered from administrative negligence, insufficient space, inadequate facilities, and a small teaching staff. Because of recurring questions about the propriety of some forms of artistic expression on campus, faculty members usually emphasized vocational training over purely creative innovation. But in 1964, with the completion of the $7 million Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, the university found itself recommitted to an aggressive college-level creative arts curriculum. BYU has since offered graduate degrees in fine arts, music, theater, playwriting, and creative writing; underwritten student literary magazines; produced hundreds of plays, operas, and musicals; assembled several major art collections; and sponsored student dance troupes, choral ensembles, and musical groups. Currently, an average of 10 percent of all undergraduates pursue majors in the arts, and school officials have discussed plans for a multi-million dollar museum of fine arts. Because of the continuing debate over the place of artistic expression in the church, however, no other area of BYU’s curriculum has been as plagued by the tensions between institutional and professional expectations as have the arts, entertainment, and literature.1

[p. 306] As with the accomplishments of Mormon artists generally, the contributions of BYU faculty and students to uncharted creativity have reflected individual initiative rather than official encouragement, due primarily to what historians Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton have characterized as a preference among church members for that art which fosters “shared goals” over that which stems from “self-expression” or “personal expansion.” (The outstanding creative contributions of individual faculty members are discussed in Chapter 9.) Speaking to faculty and students in 1975, church president Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, “Our art must be the kind which edifies man, which takes into account his immortal nature, and which prepares us for heaven, not hell.” The following year, during a Sunday evening devotional service, Apostle Boyd K. Packer reminded his audience of their responsibility to convey “the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the restoration of it in music, in art, [and] in literature.” Packer promised that those who neglected to apply their talents to “the onrolling of the church and the kingdom of God in the dispensation of the fulness of times,” courting instead the acclaim of colleagues, would miss “being what they might have become.” He warned faculty who discarded the art and literature of faithful Mormons, while assigning their students the “degenerate compositions that issue from the minds of perverted and wicked men,” that such actions “will not go unnoticed in the eternal scheme of things.”2

“The church is a little bit afraid of the art or music that has purely aesthetic values,” conceded Conan E. Mathews, former dean of the College of Fine Arts, in 1971, “because people could misinterpret the aesthetic experience for religious devotion and forget to go to church.” Indeed, added Leon Hale, an assistant exhibit designer employed by the church, most church leaders, “conservative in their outlook,” have preferred that their artists “appeal to someone’s heart rather than [to a] sense of artistic value” and have responded suspiciously to art that approaches the abstract or surrealistic. The repeated institutional demands for a pragmatic art that serves to promote faith has, not surprisingly, discouraged many talented, faithful Mormon artists. For example, noted Western artist and Book of Mormon illustrator Arnold Friberg has contended somewhat hyperbolically that “everything here in Utah is meant to kill creative talent.” Similarly, Trevor Southey, a BYU graduate and Utah artist, has written that many Mormon artists have intentionally avoided “any attempt at experimentation” for fear they might become accused of “arrogance, apostacy, or, at least, worldliness.” And BYU’s own student Daily Universe once editorialized, “There may never [be] a sufficient sense of tolerance generated within Mormon culture to encourage those of talent to venture out beyond the normal inertial confines.”3

[p. 307] Because of their primarily didactic emphasis, the majority of works by church and BYU artists treating Mormon themes have been characterized as stereotyped, idealistic, and sentimental (DeGraw). University of Chicago professor and literary critic Wayne C. Booth asserted in the late 1970s that Mormon artists must either challenge their culture’s values or “not expect to produce a great Mormon artistic culture.” BYU English professor Karen Lynn added that “the Mormon artist finds himself a member of a community that tolerates none but the most simplistic treatments of unhappiness, depression, confusion, and frustration. . . . It may be,” she concluded, “that the arts will achieve legitimacy [in the church] if, and only if, the faith is seriously threatened. Art would then reinforce what faith had lost.”4

Art, Drama, and Film

Like most schools of its kind, BYU’s Department of Art as initially established emphasized the acquisition of rudimentary skills rather than creative training and, by 1951, could offer students only two professors, two assistant professors, and four instructors. But from 1961 to 1965, especially following the completion of the Harris Fine Arts Center, the number of undergraduate art majors more than doubled from 200 to 500; and from 1961 to 1975, the number of full-time art faculty jumped from eleven to twenty-four. Still, the emphasis has remained largely vocational, and BYU has become a major source of junior high, high school, and college art instructors. Aesthetically, fine arts dean Lorin F. Wheelwright explained in 1972, school administrators have favored presentations depicting the “divine in man,” by “revealing his beauty of spirit” and by avoiding “the contemporary vogue of exploiting hedonistic sex” or “tragedy in its classic form,” in favor of expressions of the “triumph of the human spirit in other forms.” It has been their goal, Wheelwright continued, to convey artistically that the “gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to its fullness and is the only way to personal and world peace.” But because of their repudiation of individual expressions of the artistic impulse, BYU artists, with only rare exceptions, have yet to make a substantive artistic impact except within the narrow confines of Mormon audiences.5

Among the many aesthetic obstacles confronting BYU artists, few have been as pronounced as the concern expressed by church and university leaders for nudity in art. When the issue evidently first surfaced in the early 1960s, school officials not only banned the use of nude models in art classes, they insisted that female models “wear underclothing beneath their leotards”–a “hopeless situation for gaining any understanding of anatomy structure,” art students complained (DU, 21 Jan. 1964). When art professor Franz Johansen returned from [p. 308] a sabbatical leave to Europe in 1964, administrators refused him permission to display the nudes he had drawn while abroad (DU, 21 Jan. 1964). Four years later, officials removed ten nude photographs from an international exhibit, “The Family of Man,” sponsored by student body officers (DU, 21 March 1968). More recently, a semi-nude statue of Cleopatra, which had been donated to the school, was sent to a backroom office of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum to avoid offending patrons who lacked “the background to understand it.” The issue again surfaced in early 1984, when four works of undergraduate artist Bob Adams were removed from a student art exhibition by officials who found Adams’s nudes “potentially offensive.” (Ironically, the Daily Universe published a photograph of one of the drawings to accompany its account of the incident.) “If we were at any other school,” bemoaned Robert Marshall, chair of the art department, “it would be almost silly to even discuss” removing the art. But Bruce Smith, an assistant art professor, suggested that “if [someone] finds them offensive then they’re offensive.” At least one student agreed, writing, “The view that nude art can be created for its artistic value has . . . contributed to growing permissiveness and pornography” (DU, 15 March 1984). On the other hand, another student wrote, “LDS artists cannot and should not ignore the [human] figure, for that would be admitting that the body is evil. . . . If the viewer sees [the drawings] as [erotic, suggestive, or pornographic], perhaps she should examine her own thoughts” (DU, 12 March 1984).6

Besides the artistic display of nudity, criticism has also focused on the “extreme modernist tendencies” of some members of the art faculty (Wilkinson, memo). Objections were voiced, for example, over such campus exhibits as a sculpture constructed from beer cans and a life-size portrait of a woman “dressed in a gown with thin straps,” revealing her bare shoulders (DU, 21 Jan. 1964). In mid-1965, visiting church officials complained of two paintings prominently displayed on campus (Packer to Wilkinson). One, entitled “The Supper Divine,” depicted “the great religious leaders of the world at supper together with the Savior as the central figure.” The painting had originally been purchased in 1941 by art department chair B. F. Larsen to be hung in the recently completed Joseph Smith Memorial Building (YN, 2 Oct. 1941). The second, an abstract triptych of the prophet Joseph Smith, had been donated to the university by one of the school’s student clubs in the late 1950s. Boyd K. Packer, an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, suggested in 1965 that both paintings “be taken down for cleaning purposes or for some other purposes and then left stored somewhere. Each time I see [the Joseph Smith mural],” he added, “I think it is an affront to the prophet.” Other trustees evidently disagreed, however, because only “Supper Divine” was ever removed from display.7

[p. 309] In efforts aimed at promoting a greater integration of art and Mormon teachings, the College of Fine Arts and Communications inaugurated an annual Mormon Festival of the Arts in 1969. Following a tradition of arts and crafts fairs of the nineteenth century, these festivals have featured original art exhibits and dramatic performances, music and dance recitals, and a formal Mormon Arts Ball. Original plays and musicals premiering at the annual festivals have included the “ultra-modern” drama of Moses, Stone Tables, by Orson Scott Card and Robert Stoddard; Doug Stewart’s and Lex de Azevedo’s musical comedy on the population explosion and birth control, Saturday’s Warrior; and James Arrington’s one-man-show, Here’s Brother Brigham. Among original musical pieces performed during the 1980 festival, held in conjunction with the church’s sesquicentennial celebration, was Merrill Bradshaw’s gospel oratorio, The Restoration.8

In a survey of responses to the art displayed at the first festival, Trevor Southey found that, despite a generally enthusiastic reception, more than one-third of all patrons believed that art was basically irrelevant to the church. One BYU student told him, “Art is important, but any relation I can see between it and the gospel is either strained or trite.” A second added, “Some of these art works depress me when they become too Mormon oriented. It is the feeling of self-righteousness that bothers me.” While many visitors expressed excitement over the proselyting possibilities of the exhibits, some resented the artistic interpretation of sacred themes. “Some of these paintings and sculptures should not be grouped or classed with Mormon art,” one patron complained; “they are anything but praiseworthy.” “I suppose there should be no set standard for Mormon art,” another visitor commented, “but I think of it as something spiritual and uplifting. I don’t feel that every painting exhibited quite meets that standard–some of the more abstract paintings do not make me feel spiritual or uplifted.” Surprisingly, only a small percentage objected to the use of nudes; Southey’s own nude, “Into Mortality,” was ranked second in popularity. The most controversial piece was the abstract painting, “Crucifixion,” by BYU art professor Peter Myer. Some felt that the work was grotesque and lacked taste; others found it sacrilegious. Southey concluded that patrons “who were uninitiated in art” were most often “offended by the more modern works,” while those with some artistic training were “offended by the poor quality and lack of subtlety” of works attempting to portray a “‘Mormon’ point of view.” Perhaps as an indication of the difficulty in achieving a standard of art satisfying both professional artists and an “uninitiated” public, the Mormon Festival of the Arts was renamed the Festival of the Arts in the early 1980s, eliminating the impression that the art addressed uniquely Mormon subjects.9

[p. 310] One of the most cautious disciplines in the fine arts has been the drama department, which began offering graduate degrees in 1932 and added a doctoral program in 1967. “We reject the irresponsibility that permeates theater, film, and television today,” department administrators stipulated in BYU’s 1982-83 school catalog. “We seek to develop theater that will delight, edify, inspire, and ultimately draw to Christ.” The artistic parameters implied by the department’s mission statement are apparent in Charles A. Henson’s review of theatrical productions staged at BYU since the 1920s. Henson, a member of the theater faculty, observed in his 1980 doctoral study that many of the plays produced at BYU were adapted from the original script to allow their audiences to “experience the Spirit of the Lord.” Theater “improves the public mind and exalts the literary tasks,” Henson argued, when it illuminates “new dimensions and insights” in treating the “strength and tragedy, triumph and suspense of a decent people.” The ultimate goal of drama at BYU, he concluded, has been to “aid the pulpit.”10

Thus, determining which plays to stage on campus–including “appropriate” direction, costuming, and script adaptation–has proven to be a sensitive matter. A number of unwritten “guidelines” have evolved since the 1960s stipulating that dialogue be free from vulgar language and profanity; banning the use on stage of alcohol, drugs, coffee, tea, cigars, cigarettes, and pipes, while also forbidding the implication that their use has any positive benefit; prohibiting the depiction of sexual acts (including nudity and the suggestion of nudity), behavior commonly associated with sex, and deviations from heterosexual norms; avoiding violence, such as murder and suicide (and, if portrayed, staged without blood); and not selecting plays that depict benefits from crime, immoral activities, or divorce.11

Given the church’s positive response to didactic, recreational drama dating from the mid-nineteenth century, Brigham Young Academy began staging two or three plays a year in the 1880s. A taste for more sophisticated theater gradually developed in the twentieth century. Favorite works included Our Town, Blithe Spirit, Devil’s Disciple, Charley’s Aunt, Little Minister, The Glass Menagerie, Hamlet, My Heart’s in the Highlands, The Madwomen of Chaillot, and Lamp at Midnight. From 1951 to 1975, BYU staged more than 2,700 productions, reaching a total audience in excess of 2.5 million people. And beginning in the mid-1970s, theater faculty began arranging for special campus outreach seminars and lectures for their students featuring, for example, veteran Hollywood actors Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Jimmy Stewart, and film director Frank Capra.12

Most of the school’s early threatrical productions were well received; official suspicion of national trends did not achieve momentum until the 1930s. Following the production of Eugene O’Neill’s [p. 311] stark The Emperor Jones in late 1938, one student asked, “Do we as students of the Y appreciate hearing the name of deity taken in vain in our plays and in similar entertainment? From the tense feeling that goes over the audience each time it happens, I am quite sure that we do not” (YN, 4 Nov. 1938). Others, however, defended the dialogue as in keeping with the play’s characters. For example, undergraduate Dan Thomas wondered “what would have happened” if critics had been “on the football field the day Hot Dog Weenig hit Merrill Waters in the mouth, or the day Chris Mortenson turned his ankle, or the day A. C. tore down the goal posts.” Less than fifteen years later, some students complained that the school’s production of the light comedy John Loves Mary exemplified “the cheapest genre in drama[,] . . . whose uncritical audiences obtain pleasure witnessing their every day friends swear and get drunk and make love in public greasepaint. These audiences,” they added, “take unconscious sadistic delight from beholding the embarrassed inability of their friends to project anything more than fools of themselves over the footlights” (YN, 22 Jan. 1952). Ironically, student journalists eleven months later praised drama professor Preston Gledhill for his “spicy, racy production” of Moliere’s The Doctor in Spite of Himself. The renaissance French comedy was, students wrote, “convincing evidence that the [theater department] need not hesitate to present deserving drama which contains sex. As gusty a show as ‘The Doctor’ is,” the review continued, “it was carried off in such a grand and spirited style that nobody could have considered it offensive. Quite the contrary, its earthy humor was enormously appreciated by the opening-night audience” (YN, 18 Nov. 1952).13

By the early 1960s, criticisms of BYU’s dramatic repertoire had sensitized faculty to a point where potentially offensive content was routinely edited out of campus plays before production for general audiences. For the university’s 1960 staging of All My Sons, Lael J. Woodbury told a reporter that he had deleted “nasty dialogue” and “drinking notations” (DU, 5, 19 Feb. 1960). Some students still felt, however, that the play’s content had not been sufficiently censored. When one student reporter authored a favorable review, several undergraduates publicly condemned his “apparent hostility to the standards of the university” (DU, 16 Feb. 1960). Seven years later, Woodbury again excised references to “drinking and swearing” from his production of Neil Simon’s comedy Barefoot in the Park. “We aren’t watchdogs,” he explained in a 1967 interview, “but we don’t want to be guilty of putting suggestive thoughts and ideas into the minds of our audiences. There is enough in the world that is crude and disgusting. . . . [Plays] are for the audience, and any element which inhibits [the] communication of the essence of the play is not artful” (DU, 27 Sept. 1967).14

[p. 312] Clearly, such decisions were not easy for many faculty to make. Charles Metten, for example, deleted profanity from his staging of Thornton Wilder’s Ah, Wilderness!, also produced in 1967, but left in the “drinking and roadhouse scene with the prostitute” because both were “essential to the main character’s development” (DU, 29 Sept. 1967). Metten later confessed, “Sometimes, I think, we at BYU have been guilty of changing a production to the detriment of the piece” (DU, 15 Jan. 1982). But when department faculty members subsequently staged Death of a Salesman and On Golden Pond, offensive dialogue, especially profanity, was again replaced in most instances by less objectionable language. Still, renegade productions have continued to surface, as in late 1984, with Heartlight, an award-winning, original play by BYU student playwright J. Scott Bronson, which reportedly included “some language never before uttered on a BYU stage, including the Lord’s name taken in vain and a thoroughly offensive line in the third act.”15

More recently, criticism of department productions has shifted from profanity and sexual innuendo to the depiction of controversial Mormon historical events and doctrine. BYU playwright Thomas F. Rogers’s dramatic portrayal of the church in Nazi Germany, Huebener: A Venture in Mormon Hagiography, offers a case study of official administrative suppression. First staged on campus in October 1976, Rogers’s critically acclaimed two-act play focused on the dilemma faced by seventeen-year-old Helmuth Huebener, who, with the help of two friends, printed and distributed anti-Nazi literature in Hamburg during the early 1940s. Unable to reconcile his personal convictions with the admonitions of local church leaders who urged cooperation with the Nazi government, Heubener was eventually arrested for his underground activities, beheaded, and posthumously excommunicated from the church. Rogers’s interpretation deliberately underscored the painful choice Huebener was asked to make when church officials discovered that he had been using church property to print his pamphlets. During the play’s climax, Huebener asks: “Didn’t the Saviour himself say that his purpose was to help us achieve ‘immortality and eternal life?’ And that ‘the Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath?’ . . . So I have to put that, I’m afraid, before the church, although I am confident that we cannot attain exaltation without the church either.” Rogers’s program notes concluded, “Huebener was a true son of the twentieth century, of whom Latter-day Saints, Germans, and the world at large can be justly proud. May we cherish his memory with gratitude . . . and reverence.”16

The day following Huebener‘s premiere, BYU trustee Thomas S. Monson telephoned President Dallin Oaks to inform him that Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the church’s First Quorum of the Seventy and area supervisor for Europe, was “disturbed” over the possible [p. 313] repercussions of the play. Wirthlin, who had not seen the production, called the play “foolish,” insisting that it “endangered the lives of all the Saints in [East] Germany.” Both Monson and Wirthlin asked pointedly, “Aren’t there subjects the `Y’ can use for plays that won’t endanger the work [we are] trying to do here?” Monson continued, “What if a current Latter-day Saint tried to expose or publicly oppose their current communist leadership,” as Huebener had opposed National Socialism? Later, Wirthlin would add that the play could “arouse . . . [church] members to a more active opposition of their government than would be in the best interest of the expanding church” (quoted in Oaks to Woodbury, 11 Oct. 1976). Consequently, both church officials suggested that “under no circumstances should the script of the play or any plans to present it be sent to Europe.” Oaks dutifully agreed and shortly afterwards cautioned fine arts dean Lael Woodbury, “We need to be very sensitive because future plays could possibly cause this kind of problem or some other problem in other parts of the world.” Rogers was asked not to distribute copies of his script and to refuse requests to have it performed. “Who knows what was right or wrong then?” explained Monson nine years later in 1985. “I don’t know what we accomplish by dredging these things up and trying to sort them out.”17

Unaware of the debate over the play at official levels, one undergraduate responded to the play’s critics when he wrote tongue-in-cheek, “I am disturbed at the attempt of the Department of Theater and Cinematic Arts to make of Helmuth Huebener a ’20th Century Mormon martyr.’ . . . Mormon martyrs must be selected from among those faithful German saints who obeyed church counsel . . . and did their duty in the East against Stalin, in the West against our brothers and fathers, and in Dachau and Buchenwald against humanity.” When the subject was raised in late October during a meeting of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees, committee members reiterated the criticisms voiced by Wirthlin and Monson “regarding plays or other matter relating to Iron Curtain countries [however well done] that could possibly be detrimental to the missionary work being undertaken in Europe.”18

Rogers protested the administration’s request that he not release copies of the script. In a memo two weeks later to academic vice-president Robert K. Thomas, he wrote, “‘Huebener’ may be one of the few Mormon cultural products that, with its universal ethical implications, would communicate to those outside the church. . . . The stigma associated with its wholesale suppression might, on the other hand, have an adverse effect–suggesting that the play’s theme has perpetuated itself in its institutional handling.” Oaks, with Monson as his guest, attended Huebener before it closed. To George Winder, an enthusiastic theater patron who donated $1,000 to the university [p. 314] after attending Heubener, Oaks wrote that he found the play “excellent,” that it “deal[t] with a subject that tugs at our hearts and reminds us of the complexities of the life we live.” Still, the administrative restrictions on Rogers’s script remained in effect.19

Most of the historical research for Rogers’s play had been supplied by BYU history professor Douglas F. Tobler and associate German professor Alan F. Keele, then working on a book tentatively entitled, “Helmuth Huebener and the Dilemma of German Mormons under Hitler.” As with Rogers’s play, however, two local German church officials, F. Enzio Busche and Peter Berkhahn, recommended against the book’s publication, and Tobler and Keele were asked to postpone plans to publish their work indefinitely. More than four years later, however, convinced that they had “delayed” long enough, Tobler and Keele hazarded an introductory essay on Huebener and Mormons in the Third Reich in the independent Mormon magazine Sunstone. Then in 1983, Rogers’s original Huebener script was privately published, together with three other plays, in a collection entitled, God’s Fools: Plays of Mitigated Conscience. The following year, a Salt Lake City acting company, unable to secure the rights to Rogers’s play, staged its own successful and much-publicized version of the Huebener drama, Huebener Against the Third Reich.20

At least three other plays besides Huebener have elicited similar reactions from university and church administrators. The first, BYU student Robert Elliott’s Fires of the Mind, dealt realistically with the painful struggles of an intellectual twenty-year-old Mormon missionary, exploring, in the process, the nature of faith, doubt, and religious conviction. First staged before a limited campus audience in 1974, Fires of the Mind was revived in 1982 as part of the theater department’s official season offerings. “Well-placed” criticisms of the play’s “frighteningly authentic” treatment of the missionary experience resulted in at least two script revisions before Fires closed (see Sunstone Review, June 1982). The play’s director, Robert Nelson, met with his department chair, college dean, and academic vice-president Jae R. Ballif to discuss the piece. “We can’t show the missionary program in a bad light,” Ballif later insisted, explaining that in addressing the issues Elliott’s play had raised, it was “difficult to tell where a critical analysis ends and an apostate view begins. We encourage inquiry and the pursuit of openness,” he added, “but not in matters of faith” (SEP, 10 June 1982). Because the play had evidently offended some audiences, Nelson reluctantly consented to changes in the script as a “question of taste and judgment,” not, he explained, as a compromise of artistic freedom. Most significant among the alterations was a rewriting of the ending. In the original version, a disillusioned missionary left his assigned companion for a clandestine meeting with a recent female convert. As revised, the missionary remained on stage [p. 315] as his companion read a letter reassigning one of them to another city, leaving the missionary’s dilemma unresolved (Sunstone Review, June 1982).21

In the wake of Fires of the Mind, theater faculty became increasingly wary of plays addressing sensitive Mormon themes. Three months later, for example, student playwright Robert Lauer’s portrayal of the treasure-seeking activities of founding church prophet Joseph Smith was rejected for production as part of the department’s official 1982-83 season after being awarded second place in the College of Humanities’ university-wide Vera Hinckley Mayhew writing competition. Evidently, Digger’s controversial theme was the main reason drama officials decided not to stage it. Complaints similar to those leveled against Fires of the Mind emerged again in late 1983 when a group of undergraduates produced an independent stage version of English instructor Bela Petsco’s Nothing Very Important and Other Stories. Petsco’s privately published (1979), award-winning book about the Mormon mission experience contained a series of loosely-knit vignettes, including two deaths and a missionary’s excommunication. Criticisms of Petsco and Nothing Very Important had surfaced before on campus (see Oaks to Benson); and when David Cameron, the student director, publicly announced that a group of students would be turning the book into a play, officials asked him for a copy of the script and questioned him as to the play’s intent. Advertisements were subsequently rejected by the Daily Universe. Cameron was told that administrators did not want it to appear that the university endorsed the controversial production.22

As sensitive as BYU officials have been to the content of school plays and musicals, they have been equally, if not more concerned about the content of motion pictures sponsored by campus groups. Films scheduled for BYU’s Varsity Theater, for example, have been carefully screened since the late 1960s by the University Films Committee, composed of a handful of school administrators, faculty, and student representatives. “We edit the movies so they don’t teach immorality,” explained committee chair and religion professor Paul Cheesman. “Most profanity and nudity is censored along with all disrespectful references to deity. . . . [We’re not saying we] won’t show things that are bad,” he added, “as long as the bad is shown in its proper light[,] . . . the same way scriptural history shows it” (DU, 21 Sept. 1978).23

When plans for a movie theater were included in the blueprints for the proposed student union building, the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center, in the mid-1960s, officials announced that the student-elected vice-president of culture would have direct “responsibility of the movie theater.” But by 1969, the responsibility for selecting, ordering, previewing, and editing all Varsity Theater films had been assumed [p. 316] by Wilkinson Center administrators, with the University Entertainment Committee (later Films Committee) serving as an official board of censors. When the Varsity scheduled the futuristic science fiction film Planet of the Apes in late 1969, the entire sound track to actor Charleton Heston’s concluding soliloquy was cut because of repeated references to deity. Further evincing the administration’s displeasure with motion picture trends, BYU announced in 1966 that it was initiating an annual Family Movie of the Year Award. For the following three years, the award went to The Sound of Music, Follow Me Boys, and To Sir With Love. But in 1969, officials were unable to find a film that met their criteria and discontinued the award program.24

Two years later, in August 1971, as part of a national college tour, Academy Award-winning director Stanley Kramer offered to preview his recent film, Bless the Beasts and the Children, for interested student groups. School administrators invited Kramer to include Provo in his tour but, after screening his motion picture, refused permission to show the film on campus. “It’s just too real for our students,” explained one administrator. “[It’s] a propaganda film . . . [that] destroys confidence between youth and adults,” a second added. “I would be happy to stand up and listen to criticism of my bad taste,” Kramer responded, “but as to not being permitted to even show the film for discussion, I object, I object, I object” (DU, 12, 17 Aug. 1971). Kramer did consent, however, to address students and faculty at the Varsity Theater, and to show clips from his other movies, including High Noon, The Caine Mutiny, Death of a Salesman, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. “As Mr. Kramer left the theater,” wrote one student afterwards in the Daily Universe, “I found . . . for the first time since coming here [that] . . . I was ashamed of being a BYU student.” The following month, newly appointed President Dallin Oaks defended the university’s action, announcing,

We will not welcome onto this campus–any more than thoughtful Latter-day Saint parents will welcome into their home–the blasphemous, the sordid, the crude, or the vulgar. These characterizations are not self-defining, and there may be differences from time to time in the application of the principle. But the principle itself is clear. We will continue to be selective about what we tolerate on this campus and even more selective about what we sponsor.

Kramer’s film later represented the American movie industry at international film festivals in Moscow and Berlin.25

Throughout the next three years, school officials banned Patton, The Cowboys, and 1776 because of excessive profanity. A nude scene was cut from The Taming of the Shrew, but Dr. Zhivago remained intact because committee members ruled that its depiction of adultery [p. 317] was not glamorized. The Films Committee’s policy of not previewing G-rated family pictures was reversed when The Last Valley opened at the Varsity Theater in mid-1973. Pulled after one showing, the film “should have [had] a [Parental Guidance] rating,” administrators concluded (President’s Meeting). Attendance at the Varsity Theater fell off sharply after the short run of The Last Valley and the executive committee of the Board of Trustees subsequently backed a revision of school policy allowing a greater variety of PG-rated movies. The Poseidon Adventure and Young Winston were among the first films to benefit from the new policy. Elsewhere, a group of dissatisfied students, convinced that the Varsity’s choice of family movies “necessarily doomed [it] to a consistently mediocre program,” formed a campus Film Society, co-sponsored by the ASBYU Culture Office (DU, 6 Jan. 1975). Society members rebuffed objections from Wilkinson Center officials to the society’s subsidy from student government and successfully avoided confrontations with the University Films Committee by showing such film classics as Duck Soup and Casablanca. Even so, one undergraduate complained that Mae West’s 1930s comedy, She Done Him Wrong, contained some “fifteen minutes of vulgarity.”26

A “test case” in determining the direction of on-campus films was the 1975 showing of PG-rated The Towering Inferno, which had cleared the Films Committee by a margin of one vote. “If [The Towering Inferno] survives its stay here without major protest,” explained Robert Garrick, a student representative to the Films Committee, “[it] could pave the way for more daring choices, like The Sting,” which, Garrick noted, had been barred because it “glorif[ied] con-men” (DU, 10 Nov. 1975). The film was shown without incident, and committee members two years later passed George Burns’s comedy, Oh, God!, on condition that the film’s title not be displayed or advertised. Varsity officials substituted instead “the George Burns Movie.” The following year, however, the Films Committee rejected The Turning Point when it was discovered that too much of the sound track would have to be cut to make it acceptable for BYU audiences. At least two songs and one entire scene were excised that year from the PG musical Man of La Mancha (DU, 6 Dec. 1978, 28 Nov. 1979). During the early 1980s, the many PG-rated films screened at the Varsity, all requiring heavy editing, included Capricorn One, Kramer vs. Kramer, Star Trek–The Motion Picture, and PG versions of Ordinary People, The Verdict, and Apocalypse Now. Michael Douglas’s The China Syndrome required nearly fourteen hours of editing to make the seventy required cuts. Though student attendance at the Varsity Theater has continued to sag, administrators have resisted additional policy revisions. When they learned in 1984 that cinematic arts faculty allowed film criticism students to critique R-rated [p. 318] (restricted) motion pictures for class credit, they quickly intervened to see that the arrangement did not continue.27

Organized in the early 1960s as a monthly International Film Festival, the College of Humanities’ foreign film program, International Cinema, has become one of the nation’s largest collegiate foreign cinema programs, featuring over sixty films per semester and attracting average weekly audiences of 1,600 during fall and winter semesters (DU, 5 March 1984). Because of its emphasis on foreign language films and support from most humanities faculty, International Cinema has been subject to less criticism than the Varsity Theater. “Foreign films are usually ‘adult’ films . . . in that [they aren’t made] for kids. They are on an adult level,” explained BYU film festival official Francesco Gnoli in 1972. When Wilkinson Center officials, objecting to the content of the monthly foreign films in 1972, denied film festival organizers further use of the Varsity Theater, Director Joseph Baker responded in disappointment, “They want popular family entertainment only. They won’t tolerate academic programs or anything that even hints of a serious movie. It’s all Doris Day and Rock Hudson.” International Cinema faculty director Don Marshall explained in 1984, “We are under the same rules [as the Varsity Theater]. But many commercial American films throw in stuff to make people giggle and smirk. An art film won’t have language or nudity or sex or violence to be a crowd pleaser. Those things will have a certain rightness in being there.”28

Although International Cinema films have typically not been as closely monitored as Varsity movies, criticisms have nonetheless arisen, as in 1970 when some students complained about the French film, Le Bonheur, and later when festival coordinators left intact a “six-minute bedroom scene” in Un Homme et Une Femme (in Clark to Thomas). In 1972, additional criticisms focused on The Medea, Lieutenant-Kapitein Prein, and The Young Torless. As a practical remedy, administrators thereafter restricted the distribution of International Film publicity to language classes. Academic vice-president Robert Thomas noted, “A number of the films are not those which you would generally send your twelve year-old daughter to see. These films should not be confused with entertainment. They are essentially a lab experience for language students” (DU, 10 Nov. 1972). Sensitive to their critics, however, International Cinema organizers later trimmed a nude scene from Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet and pulled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum after one showing because it “[was] such a lightweight offering that it could hardly be defended as a serious contribution to the history of comedy in film.” The majority of patron complaints in the 1980s have centered on films being either “weird” or “depressing” rather than sexually suggestive or violent. International cinema director Don Marshall explained, “The [p. 319] films deal with great turmoils, and Mormons aren’t immune from these turmoils. There’s a real world out there someplace and Man from Snowy River and Mr. Mom don’t prepare us for problems in the real world” (DU, 5 March 1984).29

Perhaps best illustrative of BYU’s concerns with motion pictures was the controversy surrounding two faculty members testifying in defense of a movie prosecuted under Provo city’s anti-obscenity ordinance in 1978–an ordinance which had been adopted in the mid-1960s following an anti-obscenity campaign spearheaded by religion professor Eldin Ricks, with university and church endorsement. Looking for Mr. Goodbar, an R-rated film from Paramount Pictures starring Richard Gere and Diane Keaton as a woman whose sexual promiscuity eventually led to her brutal murder, was confiscated from a local theater by Provo police in December 1977. City officials initiated civil proceedings against the theater, its parent company, and the film’s Hollywood production firm. The theater obtained a second print of the film, filed for an injunction to prevent the city from confiscating this copy, and tripled its ticket sales. (The Daily Universe editorialized that the movie’s R-rating evidently stood for “revenue.”) Police officers admitted that the movie was not “explicit” in its depiction of sexual acts; James D’Arc, curator of the Harold B. Lee Library’s Arts and Communications Archives, testified that the movie was “probably one of the most electrifying motion pictures of 1977;” and Edward A. Geary, professor of English, added that the film’s director had, in fact, been too “moralistic” and “preachy.” Both men concluded that while they did not condone the behavior depicted in the film, they considered the motion picture to be a valid, realistic portrayal of human experience. In ruling against the city’s case, Judge George E. Ballif wrote that “the evidence presented by movie critics and literary experts conclusively established (for purposes of this proceeding) that the film is a serious work in the field of art and literature, and for that reason alone is entitled to the protection of the First Amendment.”30

Following the trial, lawyers for the film, as well as the movie’s director, Richard Brooks, applauded D’Arc’s and Geary’s testimony as “the pivotal point of the trial[,] . . . in fact, the most persuasive portion of [the] case.” Others, however, felt their appearance had implicated both the university and the church in defense of a motion picture they considered pornographic. BYU president Oaks sympathized with his school’s critics: “I too was shocked and disappointed to read about the involvement of two BYU personnel in the controversy over the film Looking for Mr. Goodbar. They surely acted without consent, and they have been advised that this should never have happened and have been cautioned to take care that it not happen again” (Oaks to Beckett). Oaks subsequently informed faculty members that “no one at the university should allow themselves to be used as expert witnesses [p. 320] in any case without first seeking counsel.” The issue, Oaks explained, was not whether the testimony was accurate or inaccurate, but “whether it is appropriate for the institution to get into [a] controversy when the possibility of misunderstanding by our constituency is so large” (“Statement”).31

Faculty reaction to the new policy was mixed. In his own defense, Geary wrote to academic vice-president Robert Thomas that “in keeping silent I will be compromising some responsibilities that I feel to the university and church.” English professor and colleague Bruce W. Jorgensen queried in a memo to Oaks, “If ‘our constituency’ misconstrues or disapproves the actions or words of a faculty member, . . . isn’t it time to try to educate the constituency instead of reproving the faculty member? How long must we tacitly allow shoddy thinking and ignorant zeal to go unchallenged?” Steven C. Walker, also of the English department, added that “withholding expert opinion” was “blatantly immoral.” But Oaks was unequivocal. “The tradition of conscience requires a person to finance its exercise himself or herself,” he wrote back. “Hundreds of prominent persons have been put in a position where their duties required them to remain silent while their consciences compelled them to speak. Many honorable persons have resigned in that situation. The tradition is well recognized.” A frequently asked but unanswered question was whether there would have been any controversy had D’Arc and Geary testified in behalf of the city’s attempted ban. And the task of “allowing individual freedom for faculty and staff without making those positions appear to be the ‘BYU position'” remains one of the university’s persistent dilemmas (see Holland to Vetterli).32


Among the most successful arts programs sponsored by the university has been the musical Lyceum series, established in the 1910s by finance professor Herald R. Clark. Until his death in the mid-1960s, Clark secured the talents of an impressive array of contemporary classical musicians and performing groups, including the New York and Los Angeles symphonies, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Julliard Quartet, the Orchestre Nationale de France, Bela Bartok, Paul Robeson, Artur Rubinstein, Andre Previn, Leontyne Price, Yehudi Menuhin, and Misha Dichter. Clark housed many of his guests in his own home, where, he joked, his wife’s cooking helped to offset the less than competitive prices the school was able to pay. Prior to the 1950s, the recitals were usually held in the Provo Tabernacle where the acoustics were above average and the stained glass windows helped to set a more sophisticated atmosphere. Unfortunately, performers and guests were also sometimes assaulted by the pungent odor of bats [p. 321] which made a home of the building’s attic. When pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff appeared in 1938, for example, the tabernacle custodian explained that he had recently discovered six inches of bat manure in the upstairs loft and had buried more than 5,000 little corpses.33

Evidently not all BYU students appreciated Clark’s selection of musical artists. The frequent return of less renowned performers such as the Roth Quartet was lampooned in the school’s 1942 yearbook. Eight years later, the student newspaper parodied Clark’s lyceum offerings with its own list that included the the Orem Symphony Orchestra and the G-String Quartet. In 1946, students asked that the concerts expand their largely classical repertoire to include the tastes of others besides music majors and “northern Utah residents.” But when student government officers began sponsoring their own concerts, they encountered considerable uneasiness about popular music from many of their mentors. For example, faculty critics vetoed the appearance of Dizzy Gilespie and his fourteen-piece jazz band in 1948, and BYU president Howard McDonald personally rejected black jazz musician Duke Ellington and his orchestra in 1949. McDonald subsequently admitted that he had been “scared” of possible repercussions because of the group’s music and race. “I was afraid of the reaction up in Salt Lake, and I hated to say no,” he confessed. McDonald also feared that area hotels would not have housed the black band members.34

Although school officials reluctantly permitted the appearance of contemporary song-writer and band leader Les Brown in the early 1950s, they remained generally opposed to modern jazz. A generation earlier, in 1923, church youth leaders had concluded that jazz was little more than “rank ‘faking’ [i.e., improvisation], and should not be tolerated by intelligent people.” Despite a lapse of some thirty years, such sentiments evidently proved difficult to shed, especially when connections between jazz musicians and sex and drugs were raised and the possibility of contamination voiced. Faced with growing student pressure, however, administrators approved the 1958 jazz recital of a group of BYU undergraduates calling themselves the “Y’s Men Band.” The Daily Universe afterwards editorialized, “Many hours of pratice went into a program that proved well worth the effort. The only thing missing was the usual supply of administrative officials generally present at such affairs, but 1,400 music fans hardly noticed for the satisfaction of a well[-performed] program.” Towards the end of the school year, Universe editor Bob Koenig wrote that one of the most significant developments of 1958 was that “jazz–although disowned by the administration–made an appearance in the [George Albert] Smith Fieldhouse.” BYU officials shortly thereafter approved the engagements of Nelson Riddle, best known for his arrangements of “Blacksmith Blues” and “Mona Lisa,” and Stan Kenton, who, [p. 322] students commented, had done “as much to popularize jazz as any other man in America.”35

Despite the grudging welcome BYU president Ernest Wilkinson gave big-band jazz, he felt even less enthusiastic about the new music of the early 1960s, especially rock and roll. In the spring of 1966, Wilkinson intervened in student affairs to prevent the appearance of black female vocalist Nancy Wilson and then tried to dissuade Junior Class officers from inviting their second choice, the Four Preps, to provide music for their prom. Student body officers appealed to BYU trustees, insisting that students were “tired of the entertainment provided by students themselves” (Wilkinson Journal; Ex. Com. Minutes). In the face of such stiff opposition, Wilkinson backed down; the Four Preps appeared at the prom as scheduled. An ASBYU-sponsored survey later revealed that 98 percent of the students wanted “big name [popular] entertainment to entertain in concert at BYU;” that only 11 percent would be “satisfied with concerts composed solely of BYU entertainment for major social events;” and that 95 percent had no “feeling concerning [the] race, creed, or color of entertainers.” Student officers concluded, “We would recommend that the name attraction program be expanded rather than restricted.” Two years later, when students invited the Tijuana Brass to perform on campus, administrators cancelled the contract when they learned that the Brass intended to bring an interracial lead group, the Checkmates, Ltd. Brass leader Herb Alpert publicly accused the school of racial discrimination. Black classical musicians had performed in the past, but no contemporary black musician had appeared on campus. The charge of racism evidently struck a nerve, for within the year, the black Ramsey Lewis jazz trio and the Fifth Dimension were invited to the university.36

In 1971, a second student poll found that eight of the ten most popular choices for campus concerts were rock-and-roll bands, a finding repeated in subsequent surveys conducted in 1973 and 1974. Accordingly, BYU student officers began sponsoring the appearances of popular rock-and-roll artists, including Gordon Lightfoot, America, Loggins and Messina, the Carpenters, Seals and Crofts, John Denver, Helen Reddy, the Association, Bread, the Supremes, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. To guarantee that visiting groups not promote behavior or ideas offensive to the standards of the church and university, school officials attached riders to the performers’ contracts stipulating that they avoid songs dealing with civil rights, sexual immorality, and birth control; that they avoid profanity and off-color jokes; and that they not condone “disrespect for family, country, or other worthwhile institutions.” Contracts also prohibited the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco on campus, and required that female entertainers wear brassieres.37

[p. 323] The first statements issued by church authorities regarding rock-and-roll music appeared in 1971 and were directed almost exclusively towards “religious rock,” which Apostle Ezra Taft Benson termed “sacriligious, apostate deception” (DU, 5 Oct. 1971). When concert promoters announced that year that the rock musical opera Jesus Christ Superstar would be performed in Salt Lake City, the First Presidency asked that all members and “good men everywhere [oppose] this type of entertainment.” They wrote, “We consider this musical a profane and sacrilegious attack upon true Christianity. It strips Jesus Christ of his divine attributes. . . . He and his apostles are portrayed in earthly roles living below Christian standards.” Some BYU personnel espoused a more broadly based rejection of rock and roll music. In 1972, associate Honors Program director Arthur Henry King walked out of an Honors Banquet when the hired band began playing a recent favorite by the popular group Chicago. “This music is entirely out of keeping with the spirit of Jesus Christ and I am leaving,” King announced. Addressing the church’s 1973 General Conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer referred to the “shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, and the addictions” associated with many contemporary entertainers, and intimated that the music itself was inherently evil. The ASBYU Social Office consequently cancelled its engagement of Three Dog Night, a popular concert choice among students. Mark Alexander, social vice-president, explained, “In light of Elder Packer’s talk, we are taking a closer look at the groups we are booking, and we are making sure we are in harmony with church standards” (Rolling Stone, 17 Jan. 1974). Hard rock groups, such as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple, were eliminated from later student preference surveys.38

The resolve summoned by student representatives to stem the appearance of heavy rock groups on campus in 1973 proved shortlived. When the Tower of Power band performed in the Marriott Center two years later, “with enough volume to shake the rafters,” the Daily Universe reported that the audience went “almost out of control,” with people dancing in the aisles. Several fans had to be escorted out by BYU security officers (DU, 25 March 1975). While one group of students in a letter to the editor termed the event “the finest and most enjoyable concert of the year,” President Oaks vowed that “there would be no more ‘Rock Concerts’ at BYU.” Oaks also named Curtis Wynder, coordinator of student activities, as the university’s principle booking agent for student concerts, a responsibility previously held by the student Social Office vice-president. Students reacted incredulously two years later when Wynder engaged Andy Williams, soft-sounds crooner popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, as the Homecoming concert headliner. Wynder insisted that in view of the large number of alumni and “friends of the university” attending [p. 324] Homecoming, the guest performer should appeal to both students and their parents. But ticket sales slumped; Williams’s fans filled fewer than half of the Marriott Center’s 23,000 seats.39

After the Williams fiasco, BYU-sponsored groups tended to reflect student tastes more closely. Performers included the Captain and Tennille, Maureen McGovern, Ann Murray, Air Supply, Chuck Mangione, the Oak Ridge Boys, Dan Fogleberg, Kenny Loggins, and Maynard Ferguson. In early 1982, however, university officials blocked the booking of the popular black soul band Earth, Wind and Fire. While administrators confessed they were unable to agree as to what they found offensive, they cited a “satanic” first act, a “forty-five minute segment which was hard acid rock,” and “one or two ‘obscene’ or ‘descriptive’ stage incidents.” “The music we bring should have a stamp of approval,” agreed ASBYU social vice-president Michael Thompson, “because when the university puts a stamp on it, the church puts a stamp on it” (SEP, 18 Jan. 1982). When administrators later scheduled a performance by 1960s folksingers Peter, Paul and Mary, over the protest of the Social Office, concert promoters were forced to cancel the appearance because fewer than two thousand tickets sold. One notable exception to the usually “soft rock” concerts policy of recent years was the 1984 appearance of the rock band Heart. “Inviting such a group on campus,” wrote one alarmed student, “is akin to inviting Satan as long as he… buttons his shirt all the way up.”40

As music tastes shifted from rock to New Wave in the 1980s, campus officials found student preferences generally less objectionable, and administrative scrutiny shifted from beat, tempo, and lyrics to entertainers’ lifestyles. In early 1984, BYU bookstore officials removed from their shelves the albums of the British band Culture Club, pending an investigation of the sexual behavior of the group’s lead singer, Boy George. “It’s more an evaluation of the artist than of his music,” explained bookstore director Roger Utley. Ryan Thomas, Director of Student Programs, added that Boy George, whose penciled eyebrows, heavy makeup, and ankle-length smocks had become his band’s trademark, was a “well-recognized symbol” of transvestism and homosexuality (DU, 27 March 1984). Almost immediately, some students penned such sarcastic responses as “Is there any real difference between a man who dresses as a woman in order to sell records and a parochial school that masquerades as a university in order to sell a church?” Others, however, defended the bookstore’s action, noting that “Boy George may claim not to be a homosexual, but his actions speak louder than his words” (DU, 3 April 1984). Debate over the issue eventually reached BYU president Jeffrey Holland, who was asked to provide a comprehensive ruling on the propriety of stocking merchandise, including books, where the lifestyles of those affiliated [p. 325] with the product were at variance with church and university standards. The administration subsequently appointed a music selection committee, composed of three faculty members, two students, and a non-BYU Provo resident to develop a set of guidelines for the kind of music to be sold in the bookstore. Although BYU later sponsored the appearance on campus of flamboyant rock and roll performer Elton John, an admitted bisexual, some campus church leaders in early 1985 threatened to ban the popular Music Television cable station from at least two student apartment complexes because it allegedly promoted “sex, drugs, witchcraft, and the bizarre.”41

Concern over performers’ lifestyles has not been limited to popular entertainers. After students in one 1969 class heard the “experimental sounds” of a contemporary classical musician who was also a “notorious homosexual,” fine arts dean Lorin Wheelwright admonished members of the music faculty

to keep their sources of inspiration pure and to avoid these environments and companions who would pollute their values. . . . We could have a most meaningful discussion on basic philosophical issues of whether the sounds heard were truly “new horizons” or essentially “dark horizons.” . . . Since one of the prime goals of this college is to help build the kingdom of God, it would be of value, perhaps, to explore how the techniques demonstrated could be applied to a personal contribution in this direction.

Some faculty and alumni have also criticized BYU’s “involvement with an art form of ill-repute,” referring, in this instance, to the music department’s jazz/rock improvisational band, Synthesis (Cannon to Woodbury). Because “[pop] entertainment values” can be “shallow and transitory,” the department offered only one class in “popular music” until September 1982. Under pressure, course options thereafter expanded to include such subjects as “contemporary vocal” (SEP, 28 Sept. 1982). Previously, the department had emphasized traditional choral works, chamber music, and philharmonic pieces. Student participation in university choirs, orchestras, and ensembles jumped more than ten-fold from 1950 to 1980. (During a ten-year period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, BYU-staged musicals reached an estimated audience of 1.7 million people.) In 1983, the university received a major financial endowment from Milton and Gloria Barlow to help promote original compositions of Mormon musicians.42

When BYU’s KBYU radio station was founded in 1946, as a student-operated practicum in broadcasting, it featured “student-requested wake-up music from seven to nine o’clock every morning,” student talent shows, live drama, club features, and popular music. Granted an FM license in 1960, the station shifted its programming [p. 326] emphasis to classical recordings. Students subsequently asked that the station broaden its listings to include Broadway show tunes, jazz, rock and roll, and student talk shows. But when station managers expanded their programming to include other features, criticisms issued from off-campus listeners. Following a 1971 syndicated series on political revolutionaries, for example, some listeners thought the program treated the accomplishments of Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X too sympathetically (Wolsey to Glade). Darrel J. Monson, director of Communication Services, responded, “If, as a matter of fact, we never should broadcast anything on KBYU-FM that is not totally in accordance with church standards, we must . . . have sufficient budget to edit material by delaying the broadcast of it.” In a related area, when student broadcast journalists produced a three-part series on homosexuality ten years later for KBYU television, in operation since 1966, Joe White, station manager, canceled the concluding installment. News director Louise Degn, who left the station shortly afterwards, defended the students’ series, lamenting, “That’s life in journalism, [but] this has happened a lot since I came here four months ago” (DU, 12 Aug. 1982). And as a matter of policy, station employees frequently bleep out offensive dialogue from the station’s subscription offerings before they are aired to KBYU audiences (see Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Nov. 1984).43


Closely associated with the kind of music sanctioned by university administrators has been the type of dances allowed by church and campus leaders. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, church officials, much in keeping with American Protestantism generally, repeatedly condemned waltz and round dances, in which partners held each other closely while circling around the hall. George Reynolds, secretary to church president Brigham Young, reported that President Young was “opposed to [the dances], from beginning to end, from top to bottom. Round dances,” he added, “were first commenced in and still continue [to be] brothel house dances.” Apostle George Q. Cannon wrote afterwards that the popular dances were “not conducive to health” and were “considered improper by the servants of God who are placed to teach us.” The church-owned Deseret News editorialized: “The close embrace of the modern style of this whirling, giddy, seductive dance is not proper for the modest maiden, and is not exactly the position in which a prudent wife should place herself.” At the turn of the century, the church’s Juvenile Instructor cautioned youth leaders: “Certain dances such as the waltz are used by young people as an excuse for assuming an attitude that is sometimes shocking, and those who are so frivolous as to be devoid of a high [p. 327] sense of propriety should be warned . . . to refrain from any and all unseemly and indelicate attitudes in the ball-room.” And in 1912, the First Presidency specifically instructed all members to avoid “dances that require or permit [a] close embrace and suggestive movements.”44

Among Brigham Young Academy students, such admonitions went largely unheeded. At what may have been the Normal Department’s first formal grand “hop” in early 1891, students were treated to “an entertaining program, consisting of singing, recitations, and toasts” until well after 1:00 a.m. Only with “difficulty” was Mrs. Karl G. Maeser, wife of the academy’s principal, able to “keep up her force of [waitresses], as the young men, and married men too, made raids upon [the young women] for [dance] partners.” In the late 1890s, a concerned father wrote to academy principal Benjamin Cluff that he “greatly fear[ed]” that many of the dance trends sweeping the academy would “lead to evil consequences” if left unchecked. He explained:

I am informed that the waltz is freely indulged in; and you are aware undoubtedly that it has been denounced by the highest authority in the church, and in this [area] it is not allowed, although [there] has been a great struggle on the part of [church] officers here to keep it down. . . . Now if I send one of my children to the academy and while there [he] should contract a love for that and come home where it is not permitted, he would say, “Why, Father, everybody knows Brother [George] Brimhall is a good man and he waltzes,” and so on through all the teachers. Do you realize the condition it leaves us in?45

In time, the taboo waltz and other round dances became accepted at church socials, especially with the rise of some of the more modern dances. By the early 1910s, for example, church youth leaders were offering courses in dance instruction, including the waltz, throughout the church. At Brigham Young University, Director of Physical Education and Athletics Eugene L. Roberts was asked to supervise all dancing at the school, where he emphasized the two-step, the waltz, and the quadrille in place of the students’ “unusual walking steps, trots, hops, pivots, hugs, and writhing wriggles.” The young athletic trainer later joined some twenty area dance instructors to form the Dance Masters of Utah, which toured the state to demonstrate proper dancing techniques to high school students, church congregations, and civic clubs. Following a leave of absence to New York City, Roberts introduced to students eager for the latest “creation” from the east coast his own innovation, the “Tillman Waltz,” which he believed to be more in keeping with church standards than current fads (Gregory).46

By the end of the decade, some church leaders termed the “shimmie,” one of the latest crazes among church youth, “the most [p. 328] fearful thing ever introduced,” and averred that “the problems of dancing were never quite so great.” Special classes were sponsored by the church on correct dancing positions, community cooperation, and dance chaperonage. Dance instruction at BYU during this time and later was divided into “aesthetic,” “natural,” “interpretive,” and “creative” classes, stressing more artistic forms than previously taught by Roberts. Throughout the early 1920s, school yearbook editors noted that students had been repeatedly reminded “that ‘jazz’ [dancing] is naughty.” They elaborated tongue-in-cheek, “For years our school has gone on advancing the ideals of the church and daily turned out purer and more simple minds, but now all is changed. Where once theology and all its principles reigned supreme, the modern evil of dancing in the form of jazz has taken its place.” During this transitional period, church admonitions became increasingly prescriptive. Youth leaders suggested, for example, that at all church dances “the gentleman should stand erect with his left arm easily extended. The lady rests her right hand lightly on the gentleman’s left hand, her left hand rests firmly on the gentleman’s right shoulder. Her left elbow must rest on the gentleman’s right elbow, thus bringing her position slightly to his right, never directly in front of him” (in Arrington).47

Beginning in early 1927, BYU officials discouraged students from bringing dates to campus dances; ten years later they banned the prevalent “social custom” of requiring “formal [written] exchange of partners” before dances (Faculty Minutes; Nelson). Wednesday afternoon “matinee dances” were initiated about this time and held in the usually undecorated Ladies’ Gymnasium. For many undergraduates, these generally recreational dances became “the most thrilling thing [the school] used to have” (Van Wagenen). When a burgeoning student body in the late 1940s began to tax the capacity of the small gymnasium, a group of five undergraduates attempted to organize a club restricted to 400 members to sponsor its own dances. Though acknowledging a need to resolve the space problem, the student council denied the club’s charter, explaining that student government did not want competition. When area night clubs several years later threatened to reduce attendance at the school’s chaperoned dances, the Board of Trustees ruled that rather than intervene directly, they would “rely on [local church leaders], faculty members, and friends to oppose” off-campus dancing.48

By the late 1940s, the university’s dance curriculum had blossomed to include social, square, tap, marching, folk, and clog. In 1948, a student dance group, Orchesis, was organized to encourage the serious study of modern dance and to provide an opportunity for student performances on stage. Still absent from the school’s offerings, however, were many of the most contemporary dances, especially those in vogue with students, including the “twist,” the [p. 329] “slop,” and the “hully gully.” As with the waltz, round dance, foxtrot, and jazz dances earlier, the “craze” dances of the 1960s encountered considerable resistance from many university and church leaders. Dance instructor Benjamin DeHoyos alleged in early 1962, for example, that “the improper positions [of the new dances], along with the steps and the desires that accompany them, are part of an act of introduction to some other act.” After the alarm of an earlier generation at contact between partners, some faculty now criticized students for no longer holding each other while dancing. Psychology professor Kay Smith noted, “Since there is little body contact in the new dances, it is possible they are a form of exhibitionism or showing off.” And members of the university’s Central Dance Committee announced that while they had not, as of yet, “strictly outlawed” any of the dances, they did not condone them.49

The first dance to be banned from school dances in 1963 was the popular “twist.” Undeterred, students turned to the “chicken scratch,” the “stomp,” and the “pony,” characterized by one observer as “Neanderthal twitching[s] and spasmatic jerkings” that made the “twist” look “tame by comparison.” Two years later, the Daily Universe quoted the First Presidency’s recent admonition to avoid “grotesque contortion[s] of the body such as shoulder or hip shaking or excessive body jerking.” Just as “good posture [is] the basis for doing all things well in dancing, young people should avoid crouching, slumping over, trying to do a backbend, or having close body contact. . . . Church standards,” it summarized, “prohibit dancing that is suggestive or sensual in any way.” The following month, Wilkinson warned students during his annual Welcome Assembly: “Suggestive dances such as the fug, the monkey, and the swim, are out of place on this campus. . . . These are dances [performed] to loud twanging guitars, [and are] usually ungracious and often sensuous. There is no place in our dances for the shimmering contortionist exhibiting sensuous actions in a tight shift dress.” He also condemned the use of “rock-and-roll bands [and] electrically amplified music” for ASBYU dances, but stopped short of banning the dances outright. Student body officers themselves undertook the unpopular task less than two weeks later, formally voting to abolish the “swim,” “jerk,” and other fad dances from campus. They also ruled that the Social Office would “govern and regulate a band’s repertoire of music, tempo and volume” when performing on campus. While disgruntled students asked, “What do they want us to do, the minuet?” Wilkinson complimented the student council for its “positive action” and assigned J. Elliot Cameron’s Office of Student Life responsibility to insure that all dances were properly conducted. “Many BYU students [come] from high schools where no other dances than the ‘fad dances’ [are] performed,” Wilkinson explained, “and [do] not know how to dance properly.”50

[p. 330] The student council’s action proved to be little more than a token gesture, however, because less than two weeks later Wilkinson was recording his “shock” at discovering that “some of the fad dances, which [he] had been assured by the dean of students [had been] banned from campus, were still going on.” He promptly called a “very important serious meeting” with Student Life officials and student body officers in which he accused them of “giving aid and comfort” to proponents of the fad dances. Student body officers protested that the president was reacting “too harsh[ly].” But Wilkinson, faced with what he described as a “most serious situation,” decided that the matter would “require not only firmness, which I think I have, but tact, which I may not have” (Wilkinson Journal).51

In an attempt to rally support for his increasingly unpopular stand, Wilkinson invited BYU dance instructor Alma Heaton and twelve students in November 1965 to demonstrate the dance fads to members of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees (Ex. Com. Minutes, 18 Nov. 1965). While Elder Delbert L. Stapley “didn’t think it was necessary,” president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith admitted, “I don’t know anything about them and want to see them.” Afterwards, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley joked, “Nothing like this has ever happened in this building before!” When asked by trustees what they thought of the dances, two students, critical of the crazes, admitted to having “danced them in their home towns.” The others replied that they “still enjoy[ed] doing them, but agreed that they were not very cultural” (Wilkinson Journal). The following week, student body president Robert Christiansen, perturbed that his office had not been consulted by Wilkinson before the demonstration for the Board of Trustees, released the results of a survey which found that while attendance at on-campus dances had decreased nearly 500 percent from the previous year, attendance at off-campus dance clubs such as the local Steelworkers’ Hall and the Blue Terrace had jumped by nearly 500 percent. When Wilkinson asked for support from the trustees’ executive committee to discipline students who attended unauthorized dances, the General Authorities forwarded the matter to the First Presidency, a move Wilkinson labeled an “obvious stall.” In the meantime, he cancelled all previously scheduled campus dances involving “electric bands,” though “student body officers and the administration had not had full time to [come to a consensus] on the matter” (DU, 24 Sept. 1965).52

Frustrated in his drive to marshall official reinforcement of his ban, Wilkinson tried another tactic. Jamie Chandler, a BYU sophomore, had recently written to church president David O. McKay, asking his opinion of the dance fads. The ninety-two- year-old McKay was ailing, and his office staff had come to delegate much of his correspondence to others. Chandler’s letter was thus sent to Wilkinson, who, rather [p. 331] than respond to Chandler’s inquiry directly, drafted a reply for McKay and asked Clare Middlemiss, McKay’s secretary, to obtain McKay’s signature. “Because the information which we put in the draft of the letter for President McKay is to be used in the new manual on dancing,” Wilkinson explained, “it is quite necessary that the language . . . be precisely followed.” Wilkinson also asked that he be notified as soon as the letter was mailed so that he could release a copy of the letter to the press. His draft read:

I doubt whether it is possible to dance most of the prevalent fad dances in a manner that will meet L.D.S. standards, and I know that is why President Wilkinson, who has the complete support of the Board of Trustees, criticized certain dances in his address to the student body. The standards he outlined for the BYU are standards approved by the General Authorities. . . . The test of a proper dance was [not] whether the dancers have evil intentions, but whether the dance is of such dignity and propriety that, even to an onlooker, it suggests nothing but style and good grace.

Specifically, Wilkinson recommended the waltz, fox trot, tango, rhumba, cha cha, samba, swing, and “most of the folk dances for which the Brigham Young University has a very wholesome and fine reputation” to “provide a sufficient variety of dances to enable the youth of Zion to have a good time.” When a copy of the letter, carrying McKay’s signature, appeared in the 3 December 1965 issue of the Daily Universe, the student social vice-president ruled that there would be no more “rock-and-roll” dances held on campus. A poll conducted three months later found that nearly one-third of the student body had stopped attending university dances and that 35 percent continued to do the fad dances. Nearly one-half of the students surveyed responded that they would “do fad dances on campus if the decision to ban them were reversed.”53

Despite his persistence, Wilkinson underestimated the popularity of the contemporary dances among students. He also failed in his attempts to persuade them that the controversy involved a moral issue. Over the next three years, BYU witnessed a “gradual return of electronic [music] and contemporary dance steps,” and attendance at campus dances increased accordingly. In late 1968, student editors observed: “This year contemporary bands and dancing have been present since the opening day of freshman orientation . . . [which] has been [viewed] with apprehension by many. As long as reason and taste are maintained in posture, dress, and attitude of [the] dancers, there is some hope of maintaining a realistic contemporary dance program on campus” (DU, 14 Oct. 1968). Six years later, the Universe found that for every dollar invested by the Social Office in rock-and-roll dances, BYU earned a seventy-four dollar return, but that for every dollar [p. 332] invested in other dances, the school lost one dollar and fifty cents. By the early 1980s, students had abandoned the “stomp,” “chicken scratch,” “jerk,” and “monkey” in favor of idiosyncratic “New Wave” dances. “Straighten your arms in front of you, zombie style, and shake your head in fast, tiny jerks,” the Universe instructed; “or jump up and down in half-time,” arms hanging limply at your side; or just swing your hips (DU, 19 Sept. 1980). Unlike Wilkinson’s reactionary policies of the mid-1960s, BYU officials have made virtually no attempt to circumscribe these trends in campus dances.54

Besides the dance program sponsored by student government, formal dance instruction at BYU also evidently flourished after the 1960s. The university’s social dance curriculum, emphasizing the swing, the cha cha, and modern disco dances, has since boasted an enrollment in excess of 6,000 undergraduates each year. In a “daring” break with convention, the school’s modern dance troupe, Orchesis, together with the Oratorio Choir, the Philharmonic Orchestra, and Children’s Chorus, staged an avant-garde performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1974 which, though raising “some eyebrows,” was generally well received. While the university has sponsored an amateur ballet corps since the mid-1960s, President Jeffrey Holland did not seriously consider a proposal to establish a professional ballet company in 1981. “We need a professional ballet company at BYU like we need an earlobe straight above the nostril,” he quipped in a memo to BYU provost Jae Ballif. The school’s Ballroom Dance Team, formed in 1960, has competed internationally, placing first in United States and British formation competitions. And few outreach programs have proven as effective in “improving the positive image” of both school and church internationally as BYU’s performing music and dance companies: the Young Ambassadors, International Folk Dancers, and the American Indian Lamanite Generation.55

Literature And Creative Expression

When first established in the early 1920s as a part of the College of Arts and Sciences, BYU’s English department was directed by the school’s scientists (who also administered the college) rather than by humanities faculty. Perhaps because its directors were more interested in other areas of the college, the English department floundered during its first thirty years. The first member of the English department to hold a doctorate, Parley A. Christensen, was not hired until 1927, and from 1920 to 1945, only ten students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. Like many departments on campus, particularly those in the arts, English was invariably understaffed, its faculty overworked and underpaid. With successive shifts in the administration of the university, however, English gradually began to emerge as a [p. 333] prominent partner in the College of Humanities, created in 1965. The college was soon sponsoring an annual creative writing contest, named in honor of Vera Hinckley Mayhew, wife of one of the college’s benefactors, awarding $1,000 to outstanding student compositions. School administrators authorized a Ph.D. program in English two years later, but the first candidate did not enroll until 1971. During the next six years, only six doctoral students graduated. College officials suspended the program largely because of problems of inbreeding and fears that a doctorate program would divert attention from the department’s undergraduate focus. English has since come to emphasize basic language skills; it currently boasts the largest number of faculty of any campus department.56

As with church and university contributions to other areas in the arts, Mormon achievements in literature have more often reflected an emphasis on didactics than on creative freedom (Jorgenson). Sacrificing “the discipline of . . . form to the discipline of . . . faith,” as one student observed, Mormon writers have remained virtually unknown outside the church (Larsen). Nineteenth-century church leaders Brigham Young and George Q. Cannon condemned the literary excesses of contemporary American and British writers, including Charles Dickens. Good books, Young believed, consisted of the “revelations of God, the writings of his servants, [and] descriptions of his works, as seen in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms” (in Ehat). A generation after the important works of Virginia Sorenson, Maurine Whipple, and Vardis Fisher, popular Mormon fiction appeared again in the 1970s and 1980s from Mormon presses. But most of these mass-market novels have been classified by critics as “popular romances” and “parables masquerading as fiction” (Carson and Anderson). In fact, nearly all published Mormon authors have, according to one recent review of LDS literature, deliberately “shied away from the complex and tricky task of elucidating the inner life of Mormonism–its distinctively religious and spiritual qualities as opposed to its quaint or colorful qualities” (Arrington and Bitton).57

Yet as with most issues, church leaders have not spoken with a single voice on literature and the possibility of Mormon literary achievement. In 1888, future apostle Orson F. Whitney wrote in defense of a blossoming “home literature” movement: “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God’s ammunition is not yet exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God’s name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in [the] earth.” Particularly since the 1960s, Whitney’s hopeful declaration has become something of a charter to encourage serious literary endeavors among Mormons. But BYU English instructor Donald R. Marshall, whose The Rummage Sale, privately published in 1972, was one of the first [p. 334] indications of an emerging renaissance in serious Mormon fiction, commented wryly, “When people ask, ‘Where are the great Shakespeares and Miltons in Mormondom?’ my wife always says, ‘Where are the great Mormons who read Shakespeare and Milton?'” In a lengthy lampoon of Mormon contributions to literature, Daily Universe writer Kris Cassity described in early 1976 an imaginary celebration on campus of Mormon writing. Despite “weeks of preparation[,] . . . neither Milton nor Shakespeare [was] to be found,” Cassity wrote, although “two undesirable types [had] attempted to break into the celebration, . . . an old blind man yelling something about Christian liberty, . . . and a strange looking man with tights and long hair.” In both instances, Cassity continued, the men “were held out of sight of the press and visitors, and then later released.”58

Explaining in 1977 what he perceived as a “bias [within the church] against realistic fiction,” BYU English professor Douglas Thayer, whose Under the Cottonwoods, like Marshall’s work, stands as a bright spot in Mormon fiction, observed, “Some Mormons think that fiction should congratulate them and affirm very obviously all their beliefs.” The previous year, Elder Boyd K. Packer had chastized “teachers in the field of literature” who, he felt, were “particularly vulnerable” to the “tempation . . . [of] introduc[ing] their students to degradation under the argument that it is part of our culture.” Other Mormon writers, such as moral studies professor Arthur Henry King, have stressed that the “best [literature] we have,” both as to content and form, “is the revealed scriptures.” Regarding literary value, including style, “church authorities know best,” King asserted during a campus debate over the role of censorship at BYU in 1982. Some of King’s colleagues have attempted to develop a theory of literary criticism based on Christian principles. But one undergraduate, who continued her education at Harvard, admitted her frustration when “BYU English teacher[s] advise [their] students not to read Stephen Crane or Theodore Dreiser” because they are “too unsettling” (Nibley).59

This paternalistic approach has carried over in some measure to the management of the university’s library. Since at least the 1930s, library administrators have maintained a number of “locked cases,” intended to protect the books from self-appointed censors and “students from books they may not be prepared to read.” When complaints surfaced in 1970 about the availability of works by pioneering sex researcher Havelock Ellis, academic vice-president Robert Thomas protested to President Wilkinson “the difficulty of trying to police the so-called pornographic literature in the library and suggested that . . . Havelock Ellis would be considered very mild by today’s standards.” Wilkinson nonetheless pushed for a report he could forward to Elder Ezra Taft Benson, who had brought the subject to his attention. “We [p. 335] don’t want people the books are not intended for simply stumbling onto them,” explained one library administrator in 1981, defending the practice of restricting access to some books (SEP, 15 Dec. 1981). Examples of works housed in the locked cases of the Harold B. Lee Library include A Long Time Burning–The History of Literary Censorship in England, Beyond God the Father–Toward a Philosophy of Woman’s Liberation, Mormonism–Shadow or Reality, Counseling on Family Planning and Human Sexuality, Pissing in the Snow and Other Ozark Folktales, Among the Nudists, and Photographic Anatomy of the Human Body. For a time in the mid-1970s, recordings of the humorous sermons of church authority J. Golden Kimball were removed from general circulation because critics contended that his use of profanity could have a detrimental impact on students. Although library officials resisted recommendations in the early 1960s that they cancel subscriptions to The Soviet Union and Poland, they agreed in 1975 to discontinue the library’s subscription to Playboy magazine, which they had been receiving on microfilm.60

Apparently not until the early 1950s did BYU officials begin to voice similar concerns over the books and magazines stocked in the school’s bookstore. In March 1953, the Deans’ Council discussed “obscenity in bookstore publications” and decided to “eliminate books with objectionable covers.” They also favored the elimination of some of the more lurid movie magazines. By the early 1970s, administrative scrutiny had shifted to books dealing with the occult, reincarnation, and hypnosis. Bookstore officials moved many of their occult stock to related areas of psychology, anthropology, religion, and philosophy, and discontinued other titles altogether. As the 1973 school year opened, one student complained about “the ilk of such books as [science fiction writer Robert Heinlein’s] I Will Fear No Evil” and called for a “cleansing of such books from the shelves of the bookstore.” But Assistant Professor of English Elouise Bell countered the following month in an editorial for the Daily Universe: “Wherever one draws the line, there will be those who would draw it yet more severely.” The next fall, the bookstore was assigned a faculty advisor “to help make some decisions” regarding the books carried. While bookstore employees have since stocked works by Rabelais, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence, they have refused to sell many of the novels and essays of Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, and Jean Genet because of their sometimes explicit treatment of sex. More recently, customer criticisms centered on Fawn Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, Marilyn Warenski’s Patriarchs and Politics, the childrens’ story The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, and Mormon Enigma, the biography of Emma Hale Smith. In general, however, professional bookstore employees and [p. 336] library administrators have resisted outside efforts to dictate what they will carry on bookstore and library shelves.61

Though enjoying perhaps a greater degree of latitude than that usually afforded library collections or bookstore merchandise, required textbooks have also been subject to occasional administrative censorship. For example, an offending page was razored from a health sciences text in the mid-1960s (see Chapter 2). Several years later, a publisher agreed to print a special edition of a required freshman English reader, omitting offensive sections. Through a warehouse mix-up, however, the university wound up receiving the unedited version. Again, bookstore employees were instructed to remove the objectionable pages. (See Chapters 2 and 5 for additional concerns about some textbooks in philosophy, economics, and political science.)62

A 1978-79 incident involving a required reading in an Indian education class illuminates the process by which some texts can be dropped from class reading lists. In late 1978, a student was asked to report to her class on the book Son of Old Man Hat: A Navaho Autobiography. Offended by the work’s presentation of sexual behavior, the student sent a copy of her book report to church president Spencer W. Kimball, who, in turn, asked Elder Boyd K. Packer to investigate the student’s complaint. Eventually, both dean of Student Life David M. Sorenson and English department chair Richard Cracroft were alerted to the young woman’s criticism. Though generally supportive of the required reading, Cracroft acknowledged to Sorenson that his faculty

sometimes forget to view the world from the point of view of the eighteen-year-old boy or girl who has continued, as we encourage them to continue, with an absolutist point of view regarding morality. On the one hand, we insist there can be no compromise, but we make no differentiation between forbidden physical and spiritual compromise and, on the other hand, the necessity of increased insights into the world which are possible when one has developed his or her spiritual strength and experience to the point where to read of and to understand is, in fact, to become more like our Heavenly Father and not more satanic.

Cracroft agreed to reconsider the book before requiring it as a text in the future. Less lenient, Sorenson reported to Oaks: “The passages of concern are quite offensive and the use of the book is not appropriate at BYU. Had Indian education not made the decision to discontinue use of the book, I would have readily made the decision myself.” And Oaks, in making his report to Packer, admitted, “I am embarrassed that any BYU teacher would have had this book on a reading list.” He readily acknowledged that the teacher had made a mistake [p. 337] and promised that the “episode will help us avoid further such mistakes in the future.”63

As outlets for sometimes uninhibited creative expression, student literary journals have also occasionally tried the patience of university administrators. One of the first, published from 1929 to 1931, was The Scratch. Feature articles included stories ranging from the experiences of a young BYU coed dating both a dashing socialite and a campus athlete (“College Bells, Christmas Bells, and Dumb-bells”) to an essay addressing the effects on faith of the reversibility of gender (“Hurdles in Religion”). The Wye literary magazine, appearing in early 1939, was initially published by an honorary journalism fraternity, but was eventually assigned two faculty advisors and jointly sponsored by the Journalism and English departments. Later, from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, The Wye was supervised entirely by the English department.64

During its nearly forty years, The Wye featured an impressive array of student short stories, essays, research papers, poetry, graphic illustrations, and photography. In its first issue, The Wye carried Jack Davies’s ode “to a girl who is lots warmer than she looks,” entitled “I’m and We’re”: “When I see your trim young figure/Blithly swinging as you climb,/Independent, toward the Maeser,/Puzzled and astonished I’m/How can you, so self-reliant,/Seeming such a rebel, dear,/Quite reverse . . . and cling, compliant,/When in dark seclusion we’re?” Additional articles included “Albert Schweitzer: A Tribute” and “The Death and Burial of a Sinner Who Drowned at the Beach While Swimming on the Sabbath in the Blue Coastal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico.”65

The most controversial issue of The Wye appeared in the spring of 1971. Among the four short stories printed, Grover R. Howe’s “Illegitimate” focused on a young boy whose mother was a prostitute. In “The Conversion of Saul,” by Dennis Sharp, the protagonist awakens in the middle of the night to find a man standing “three feet above the ground, his feet just hanging there.” The visitor announces, with a “slight foreign accent,” “My name is John King, but just call me Jack. And I have been sent to you with a message from Almighty God.” In “the most official manner he could muster,” the visitor reads his message: “Dear Saul, Repent, repent, saith the Lord God. I have seen your sins and looked upon your iniquities and ye shall surely perish.” After some reflection, Saul decides to ignore the warning; he has a date later that evening with a blond who “just won’t quit.” In the same issue, Kent Walgren’s poetic “The Reaper” read: “Resting upon this velvety verdure/I behold/God’s curious creation:/Eve’s body./Two long flowering legs/Bloom forth from a shielding sheath and/Oh, how I long to explore/The unseen fruits within!” Out of a press run of 2,000, BYU officials confiscated the 1,000 copies that had [p. 338] not been delivered to subscribers. The following year, Wye student editors appended a disclaimer to their magazine, noting that its content did not “necessarily reflect the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Brigham Young University.”66

The Wye was succeeded in fall 1976 by Century 2, named in commemoration of BYU’s centennial anniversary and published by the ASBYU Academics Office in conjunction with the English department. Century 2 carried in-depth interviews, book reviews, original plays, musical scores, and feature articles, including “The Inherent Superiority of Southern California,” “The Trapping Mechanism in the Venus Flytrap,” “There’s an Orangutan on My Refrigerator!” and “Brigham Young University: The Unvarnished Reality.” Scott Dunn’s and Ralph Bradford’s 1977 “Joseph $mith for Profit” parodied Mormon prooftexting and opportunism, developing the mock case that Joseph Smith had endorsed rug shampooing. But when an irritated President Oaks asked “who [was] responsible for counseling with these students on matters of taste,” English chair Richard Cracroft instructed future student authors to clear their articles through his office. Still, such pieces as Rita Best’s evocative “The Other Self” and Cindy Lesser’s less subtle “Pinball” eluded administrative censorship. Best’s delicate poem began: “At night, shades fall/While a woman alone with a man/Undresses, standing naked/In the shadows of another self.” Lesser’s suggestive “Pinball” included, “In smoking grease/ They lean to form a silent one/with their machines,/ Which scream in time to kicking thighs/that force each point./But when the balls refuse the dance,/each hand recedes/In awkward fear to strike a match.”67

In the early 1980s, Century 2 was followed by Inscape, published by the College of Humanities and the Honors Program. Contributions included “Gadamer’s Theory of Openness,” “Proceedings of the November Meeting of the Society for Mythopoeic Psychoanalysis and Monday Night Football,” Robert Lauer’s “Digger,” and Bryce Rytting’s untitled poem: “O the totter of/thinking-men minds/that/ crawl down life’s boardwalk,/lest they/topple/and/fall/from a too reckless run.” In 1984, a group of dissatisfied students requested permission to publish a competing literary magazine, Insight: A Journal of Student Thought. BYU assistant academic vice-president Elliot Butler approved the publication with the understanding that the students avoid dealing with “sexual perversion, evolution and creationism, [and] attacks on [church authorities].” “We can deal with anything else,” boasted one of the founders. “To me, that’s fair” (DU, 5 April 1984). Insight‘s inaugural issue contained essays on Welsh poet Leslie Norris, at the time a visiting professor on campus, women and education, and Russia’s war in Afghanistan.68

Despite the relatively narrow contributions of BYU faculty and students to the arts, the future of Mormon creative accomplishments [p. 339] may be promising (see the discussion in BYU Today, June 1984). An emerging awareness and sensitivity on the part of LDS artists generally and their religious file leaders as to the aims of art and the church offer some hope that the propspects for future accommodation, even cooperation, may be worth continued confrontations. Yet the challenge facing church artists and officials remains the balance between creative expression and institutional pragmatism. Brigham Young University and church leaders have yet to find a comfortable place, from either perspective, for aesthetics in both their theology and educational curriculum.69


1. BYU 2:101, 633; 3:44, 79, 266, 289. During his thirty-four years from 1925 to 1959 as BYU’s first fine arts dean, Gerrit deJong, trained as a linguist, and rarely taught a class in the arts (BYU 2:285). “University Sets Goal of $20 Million,” BYU Today, May 1975.

2. Arrington and Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), pp. 306-07 (cf. Dennis Smith, “The Beginnings of an Artist,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1969, p. 36). Kimball, “BYU’s Second Century,” 10 Oct. 1975, in Edward L. Kimball, ed., The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1982), p. 394. Cf. Kimball, “Education for Eternity,” 12 Sept. 1967, in Kimball, “Teachings,” p. 393; Packer, “The Arts and the Spirit of the Lord, ” 1 Feb. 1976, in BYU Studies, Summer 1976, pp. 585, 584, 576-77.

3. Mathews, in Lori Schlinker, “Kitsch in the Visual Arts and Advertisement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” M.A. thesis, BYU, 1971, pp. 66-67; Hale, in Schlinker, “Kitsch,” p. 14; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 22 July 1982; Trevor Southey, “A Survey to Determine the Public Responses and Attitudes Toward the First Festival of Mormon Art at Brigham Young University,” M.A. thesis, BYU, 1969, p. 12; “Shakespeares of Our Own,” DU, 26 Jan. 1976.

4. Monte B. DeGraw, “A Study of Representative Examples of Art Works Fostered by the Mormon Church with an Analysis of the Aesthetic Value of These Works,” M.S. thesis, BYU, July 1959; Wayne C. Booth, “Relgion Versus Art: Can the Ancient Conflict be Resolved?” and Karen Lynn, “The Mormon Sacred and the Mormon Profane: An Artistic Dilemma,” in Steven P. Sondrup, ed., Arts and Inspiration: Mormon Perspectives (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1980), pp. 34 and 50.

5. BYU 3:393-97; Wheelwright, “Is There A Mormon Art?” in Lorin F. Wheelwright and Lael J. Woodbury, eds., Mormon Arts (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1972), pp. 2-5.

6. “Artistic Discrimination; Plea for ‘Sane Thinking,'” DU, 21 Jan. 1964; Jim Lindsey et al. to Editor, DU, 21 March 1968 (cf. Ronald Deane to Editor, DU, 26 March 1968; “What is Man? Exhibit Shows in New Gallery,” DU, 21 March 1968). Since the mid-1970s, art students have been permitted to use both male and female nude models in studios off campus (see “Student’s Nude Artwork Gone, Regarded ‘Potentially Offensive,'” DU, 16 March 1984). “Cleopatra Doomed to Obscurity,” DU, 7 April 1978; “Student’s Nude Artwork Gone,” DU, 16 March 1984; Aaron Boyce to Editor, DU, 15 March 1984; Jolein Vona to Editor, DU, 12 March 1984. Former BYU art instructor Trevor Southey reported that when he submitted a painting of “the stages of existence which we all must pass through” to the church’s official Ensign magazine, editors objected to his use of a nude baby “on which they managed to find evidence of male anatomy that I hadn’t put there. So they wanted a diaper on the baby” (in “Art in the Church,” Century 2, pp. 16-17).

7. Wilkinson, memo of conference with the First Presidency, 9 Feb. 1960, Wilkinson Papers; “Artistic Discrimination; Plea for `Sane Thinking,'” DU, 21 Jan. 1964; “Fine Arts Displayed in New Smith Building,” YN, 2 Oct. 1941; Packer to Wilkinson, 9 June 1965, UA 584. Packer’s complaint, Wilkinson quipped, “is another example of how the BYU is different–we have many adminstrators besides those on the campus” (Wilkinson to Earl C. Crockett, 14 June 1965, UA 584). Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 26 Aug. 1965. When the issue was referred for their consideration, College of Religious Instruction administrators admitted that they were not trained in art. Still, Dean B. West Belnap added, “from a lay person’s point of view, neither the painting nor the mural seems satisfactory,” and recommended that both be removed (College of Religious Instruction Departmental Chairmen’s Minutes, 16 June 1965, UA 584; Belnap to Crockett, 21 June 1965, UA 584.)

8. For a representative sampling of displays featured at the first three annual Mormon Festival of the Arts exhibitions, see Wheelwright and Woodbury, Mormon Arts, passim; “The Third Annual Festival of Arts,” DU, 22 March 1971; “Fourth Arts Festival Opens,” DU, 3 March 1972. “Stone Tables” was performed again nine years later (“Moses Comes to Life,” DU, 25 March 1981). BYU 4:158, 160; “‘Saturday’s Warrior’ Premieres at Pardoe,” DU, 22 March 1974; “Students to Show Films,” DU, 12 March 1975; “Mormon Festival Begins Third Week,” DU, 14 March 1975; “‘Here’s Brother Brigham,'” DU, 15 March 1976.

9. Southey, “Survey,” pp. 22, 25, 29-31, 37, 43.

10. BYU 3:87; Catalog, 1982-83, p. 201; Charles A. Henson, “A History of the Theater and Cinematic Arts Department: Brigham Young University,” Ed.D. diss., BYU, 1980, pp. 12-13.

11. Henson, “Theater and Cinematic Arts,” pp. 12-13.

12. BYU 3:384; “Something Happened in Drama Class,” BYU Today, Sept. 1977; “Y Students Charmed by Stewart,” DU, 5 Oct. 1978; “Capra Shares Insights,” DU, 19 Nov. 1979. In 1971, Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden visited the university as a special campus lecturer in drama (“We Thank Karl Malden for ‘Divine Hypocrites,'” DU, 13 July 1971).

13. “‘Emperor Jones’ Pleases Capacity Audience in First Night Showing,” YN, 21 Oct. 1938; L. C. to Editor, YN, 4 Nov. 1938; Dan “Save the Sinners” Thomas to Editor, YN, 11 Nov., 2 Dec. 1938. Thomas’s flippant letters proved so popular that “Dan Saves the Sinners” became a regular Y News column. “‘John Loves Mary,'” DU, 29 Jan. 1952; “Critic Likes Half of Drama,” DU, 18 Nov. 1952.

14. “Passion, Suspense Color Drama,” DU, 5 Feb. 1960; Klair Bybee to Editor, DU, 19 Feb. 1960; Gary L. Stewart et al. to Editor, DU, 16 Feb. 1960; “‘Barefoot’ a Director’s Challenge,” DU, 27 Sept. 1967.

15. “Director’s Concern is Presenting Good Play,” DU, 29 Sept. 1967; “Broadway Show ‘Pippin’ to Mix Theater, Theology,” DU, 15 Jan. 1982; “Raw Dialogue and Ambiguous Theme Leave ‘Heartlight’ Audience Lukewarm,” Deseret News, 9 Nov. 1984.

16. “Nazi Terror Portrayed,” DU, 5 Oct. 1976; Rogers, Huebener: A Venture in Mormon Hagiography in Two Acts (Provo, Utah: Author, 1976), pp. 25, 42. In 1963, church authorities had unsuccessfully attempted to prevent Provo city from staging BYU English professor Clinton Larsen’s The Redeemer because of its rumored depiction of “Christ’s eternal marriage” to Mary Magdalene (Wilkinson Journal, 19 Sept. 1963, Wilkinson Papers). BYU is far from being alone in having had to address the problems of dramatic presentations of religious history. See, for example, “Islam Play Canceled at University,” Hawaii Star-Bulletin, 11 Oct. 1978, where threats of violence from Moslem students resulted in the cancellation of a play on the life of Mohammed, founder of Islam.

17. Monson and Wirthlin, in Oaks to Lael J. Woodbury, 11 Oct. 1976, copy in authors’ possession; Monson, quoted in “Huebener Group Lauded in Hamburg,” Sunstone, March 1985, p. 49.

18. Dennis Evans to Editor, DU, 20 Oct. 1976; Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 21 Oct. 1976.

19. Rogers to Robert K. Thomas, 2 Nov. 1976; George Winder to Oaks, 10 Nov. 1976; Oaks to Winder, 11 Nov. 1976. Copies in authors’ possession.

20. Keele and Tobler, “Precis to Helmut Huebener and the Dilemma of German Mormons under Hitler,” copy in authors’ possession; Tobler and Keele to Oaks, 20 Oct. 1976, copy in authors’ possession. For the responses of German church leaders, see F. Enzio Busche to Wirthlin, 9 Feb. 1977; Peter Berkhahn to Wirthlin, 15 Feb. 1977; and the summary in Wirthlin to Monson, 22 Feb. 1977, all in authors’ possession. Oaks to Keele, Rogers, and Tobler, 4 March 1977; Tobler to Oaks, 10 March 1977; Keele to Oaks, 10 March 1977; Rogers to Oaks, 16 March 1977; Oaks to Rogers, 18 March 1977; Rogers to Charles H. Metten et al., 14 March 1977–all in authors’ possession. Keele and Tobler, “The Fuhrer’s New Clothes: Helmuth Huebener and the Mormons in the Third Reich,” Sunstone, Nov./Dec. 1980, pp. 20-29; Rogers, God’s Fools: Plays of Mitigated Conscience (Midvale, Utah: Eden Hill, 1983); “New Play Treats Life of Helmuth Huebener, a German Youth Who Gave His Life for Truth,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Feb. 1984. See also “Helmuth Huebener: Antagonist or Protagonist?” Sunstone Review, March 1984, pp. 2-4, and Steve Hale, “Prisoners of Conscience,” Utah Holliday, May 1985, pp. 52-75.

21. “Y Student’s Play, ‘Fires of the Mind’ to Begin,” DU, 24 Oct. 1974. BYU entered Fires in the American College Theater Festival’s national competition. Fires was also performed in 1980 as a readers’ theater sponsored by the Honors Program (DU, 21 March 1980). “Play ‘Fires of the Mind’ Tiring but Promising,” DU, 19 March 1982; “`Fires of the Mind’ Censored at BYU,” Sunstone Review, June 1982, p. 4; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 10 June 1982. Fires of the Mind was first published in the Winter 1975 issue of Sunstone, pp. 23-93.

22. “Drama Department Rejects Play,” SEP, 10 June 1982. Digger was eventually produced by a BYU theater arts graduate student, not requiring official approval (see “‘Digger’: Art as Religious History,” Sunstone Review, Jan. 1983, p. 13.) “Banned Book Now a Play,” DU, 19 Oct. 1983; Oaks to Ezra Taft Benson, 16 Oct. 1979, copy in authors’ possession; “Missionary Play Concerns BYU Administration,” Sunstone Review, Nov./Dec. 1983, p. 6. Cameron had previously staged an independent production of Inherit the Wind (“Students Gain Permission to Perform ‘Independent Production,'” SEP, 14 March 1982, and “Independent Play ‘Inherit the Wind’ Shows John Scopes’s Evolution Trial,” DU, 8 April 1982). Nothing Very Important and Other Stories was privately published by the author in 1979 and reprinted by Orion Books (Midvale, Utah) in 1984.

23. “Film Editing at Varsity Draws Criticism,” DU, 28 Jan. 1980; “Films Chosen by Committee,” DU, 21 Sept. 1978. To a lesser extent, the university’s own Motion Picture Studio, which has produced nearly 200 films has also had to contend with “its own set of taboos” (see W. O. Whittaker, “Department of Motion Picture Production,” Centennial History, p. 7, BYUA; BYU 4:382).

24. “Student Government Programs Grow,” DU, 15 July 1964 (see also “Role of Student Leaders in Y Center,” DU, 21 May 1964); J. Elliot Cameron to Wilkinson, 5 Aug. 1969, and Wilkinson to Cameron and Ben E. Lewis, 1 Dec. 1969, Wilkinson Papers; “Theater’s Movie Policy Explained,” DU, 4 Feb. 1970 (cf. Susan Hubbard to Editor, DU, 2 Oct. 1969); “Moviegoers Losing Ground,” DU, 5 Feb. 1970; BYU 4:382.

25. “Varsity Theater Censors Film,” DU, 12 Aug.1971; Stephen Brockway to Editor, DU, 12 Aug. 1971; “Kramer Film Ban Explained,” DU, 17 Aug. 1971; “A New President Speaks to BYU,” 23 Sept. 1971, in Speeches, 1971-72 (cf. “Open Letter from the President,” DU, 17 Aug. 1971).

26. “Committee Previews Films,” DU, 10 May 1973; President’s Weekly Meeting, 22 Aug. 1973; Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 1 March 1974; “Film Spliced at BYU,” DU, 25 Nov. 1974; “Film Society Will Show Best,” DU, 6 Jan. 1975; “Film Festival to Run Classics,” DU, 6 Jan. 1975; “Film Society to Stay or Go?” DU, 31 Jan. 1975; “Film Society Plans for ’75,” DU, 11 Sept. 1975; Craig H. Campbell to Editor, DU, 6 April 1977.

27. “‘The Towering Inferno’–A Test Case?” DU, 10 Nov. 1975; advertisement, DU, 20 Oct. 1977 (see also the advertisement for George Burns’s third Oh, God! movie, Oh, God! You Devil, advertised as “George Burns’s Third Movie,” in DU, 8 Nov. 1984); Ken Ahern to Editor, DU, 28 Nov. 1979; Jill Olsen to Editor, DU, 6 Dec. 1978; “Film Editing at Varsity Draws Criticism,” DU, 28 Jan. 1980; Cassandra Johns and Dawn Merrill to Editor, DU, 18 Nov. 1980; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 22 July 1982; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 17 Nov. 1982. Surveys have indicated that more than one-half of BYU students believe there is nothing wrong in attending R-rated movies (“BYU Students [on] R-Rated Flicks,” DU, 18 April 1977). “Our Minds Fill in the Blanks,” DU, 22 March 1984; “Mom Wants Clean Movie,” DU, 14 Feb. 1984.

28. “Weekend Movie Tests New, Smaller Location,” DU, 7 Feb. 1972; “International Cinema Roster Variety-Filled, One of the Best,” DU, 5 March 1984.

29. Bruce B. Clark to Robert K. Thomas, 3 Feb. 1970, UA 572 (see also Lucile O. Petty to Thomas, 6 Feb. 1970, UA 572). French students, who had arranged for the film, at first questioned the choice because it “contained some nudity and suggestiveness,” but concluded to show it because they had already invested one hundred dollars and “felt [it] had considerable artistry and social worth.” DU, 6 Oct. 1971; Clifford Sorensen to Editor, DU, 16 Nov. 1972; “Publicity Checked on Foreign Films,” DU, 10 Nov. 1972. One of the authors attended the edited screening of Romeo and Juliet. For a later incident, see “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 17 Nov. 1982. “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 6 Oct. 1981; “International Cinema Roster Variety-Filled, One of the Best,” DU, 5 March 1984.

30. For the history of this ordinance, see “Movies May be Banned,” DU, 11 Jan. 1966; “City Obscenity Regulation Discussed,” DU, 9 Feb. 1966; “Church Opposed to Obscenity,” DU, 21 Feb. 1966. “Provo Ban,” DU, 6 Jan. 1978; “R-Rated Battle,” DU, 11 Jan. 1978 (cf. “City Standards Reflective?” DU, 18 Jan. 1978). More than ten thousand people saw the movie during its run in Provo. “‘Mr. Goodbar’ Draws Blushes in Courtroom,” DU, 13 Jan. 1978; “Hearing on Mr. Goodbar,” DU, 16 Jan. 1978; “Judge’s Ruling Expected Today,” DU, 16 Jan. 1978; “Court Rejects Ban on R-Rated Movie,” DU, 17 Jan. 1978.

31. Robert D. Maack to James D’Arc, 19 Jan. 1978, and Richard Brooks to James D’Arc, 24 Jan. 1978, copies in authors’ possession. For those who found Geary’s and D’Arc’s involvement objectionable, see Donald, Helen, Cindy, and Bruce Beckett to Oaks, 16 Jan. 1978; Jesse Curtis to Oaks, 17 Jan. 1978; Creed Haymond, Jr., to Oaks, 19 Jan. 1978; Joni Gundmundson to Oaks, 23 Jan. 1978; Frank Daly to Oaks, 19 Feb. 1978; and Francis M. and Sheila R. Woodward to Oaks, 11 March 1978, copies in authors’ possession. Oaks to Donald, Helen, Cindy, and Bruce Beckett, 1 Feb. 1978, copy in authors’ possession; President’s Weekly Meeting, 18 Jan. 1978; Oaks, Statement Read During Faculty Meeting, 26 Jan. 1978, copy in authors’ possession.

32. Geary to Robert K. Thomas, 23 Jan. 1978 (see also James V. D’Arc to Oaks, 27 Jan. 1978, and Oaks to D’Arc, 1 Feb. 1978); Jorgenson to Oaks, 27 Jan. 1978. In response, Oaks reiterated his earlier position that “there are some situations of a quite deliberate public nature that are apt to be misunderstood where we have a duty to be quiet” (Oaks to Jorgenson, 31 Jan. 1978). Walker to Oaks, 16 Feb. 1978; Oaks to Walker, 6 March 1978; Jeffrey R. Holland to Richard Vetterli, 15 July 1981. Copies in authors’ possession.

33. BYU 3:411; Catalog, for 1917-18 (p. 16), 1922-23 (p. 16), 1948-49 (p. 64), 1924-25 (p. 23), 1962-64 (pp. 43-44), 1947-48 (p. 64), 1974-75 (p. 26), 1952-53 (pp. 87-88), 1955-56 (p. 116), 1973-74 (p. 39), 1940-41 (p. 78), 1942-43 (p. 80), 1960-61 (p. 100), BYUA; “Custodian Buries Tabernacle Bats,” YN, 9 Dec. 1938.

34. “Bunyon,” Banyan, 1942, p. 341; “Outstanding Lyceum Treats Promised by Y Committee,” DU, 11 May 1950; “We Want Pop,” YN, 27 June 1946 (cf. LeRoy J. Robertson to Editor, YN, 2 July 1946); “Plan to Book Gillespie Gets Red Light from Faculty, DU, 9 Dec. 1948; “Ellington May Play for Prom,” DU, 7 Jan. 1949; “SSC OKeys Duke,” DU, 13 Jan. 1949; “President McDonald Gives Band Decision,” DU, 20 Jan. 1949; Howard S. McDonald, Oral History, 10 Aug. 1973, BYUA. See also “The Little Acre,” DU, 27 Jan. 1949; Nine Students to Editor, DU, 17 Feb. 1949.

35. “Les Brown to Play for Prom,” DU, 10 March 1955 (Brown had played at the previous year’s prom, as well); Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association General Board Minutes, 5 Dec. 1923, Church Archives; John Stohlton to Editor, DU, 29 Oct. 1957; “Critic Lauds Production By Y’s Men, Jazz Artist,” DU, 28 Jan. 1958; “Jazz to Stay,” DU, 28 Jan. 1958; “An Open Letter,” DU, 30 April 1958; “Riddle to Play,” DU, 14 May 1958; “Stan Kenton Orchestra to Appear,” DU, 12 Jan. 1959.

36. Wilkinson Journal, 23 March, 4, 6 April 1966; Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 24 March 1966; Wilkinson, “Statement Made to Student Body Officers,” 7 April 1966, BYUA; “Name Attractions, Finance, and Student Talent: A Study Submitted by the Executive Council of the Associated Students of Brigham Young University,” in ASBYU Student Body History, 1966-67, BYUA; Wilkinson Journal, 10 May 1968; “Tijuana Trouble Brews,” DU, 13 May 1968; “No Tijuana,” DU, 14 May 1968; “TJB Cancellation a Sad Thing,” DU, 14 May 1968; “Alpert Says BYU Racist,” San Francisco Examiner, 13 June 1968; “BYU Denies Herb Alpert’s ‘Discrimination’ Charges,” Alumnus, July 1968; “The Night Soul Settled on BYU,” DU, 14 April 1969. BYU’s policy on blacks is discussed further in Chapter 7.

37. “Carpenters Head List,” DU, 7 May 1971; “Major Concerts Noted,” DU, 18 Jan. 1973; “Rock Groups Top Poll,” DU, 3 May 1973; “ASBYU Social Office Concert Entertainment Survey,” DU, 5 Dec. 1973; “Elton John Favorite in Y Student Ballot,” DU, 13 Dec. 1973; “Chicago Selected First,” DU, 4 Oct. 1974; “Carpenters Head List,” DU; “Availability, Standards, Polls Affect Entertainment,” DU, 17 May 1973; “Standards for Musicians at Church Dances,” Ensign, Feb. 1976, p. 49 (cf. “Short Subjects,” Sunstone Review, Aug. 1982, p. 13); John A. Farrell, Utah: Inside the Church State (Denver: The Denver Post, 1983), p. 63 (see also “Booking Concerts Not Rigid,” DU, 13 Oct. 1981). Many bands attach their own contract riders. The group America, for example, requested limousine service; a turkey dinner (including mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, cranberry sauce, peas, hot crescent rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and milk); twenty-five pounds of ice; fifty paper cups; two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon red wine; two bottles of Chivas Regal scotch; a jar of instant coffee; forty-eight tea bags; and sugar, honey, and cream. The university eliminates objectionable requests and returns the contract with its own riders (“Much Work for Show,” DU, 7 April 1977).

38. “Religious Rock Music Repudiated,” DU, 5 Oct. 1971; “Church Urges Opposition to ‘Superstar,'” DU, 11 Oct. 1971; Karen Southwick to Editor, DU, 15 Nov. 1972 (one of the authors attended this banquet); Packer, in Conference Reports, 5-7 Oct. 1973, pp. 22, 23, 25; “Rock Bands Pose Concert Dilemma,” DU, 10 Dec. 1973; “The Mormon Word: No Hair, Sex or Three Dog Night,” Rolling Stone, 17 Jan. 1974, p. 12.

39. “Tower: Power, Talent,” DU, 25 March 1975; Ross Farnsworth et al. to Editor, DU, 28 March 1975; “Rock Concerts Banned,” Centennial Free Press, 7 April 1975, p. 3; “ASBYU Social Office Wrong Back to Pat,” DU, 20 Nov. 1980; “Andy Williams to be Homecoming Singer,” DU, 6 Oct. 1977 (see also the reactions of students in Chris Petersen to Editor, DU, 12 Oct. 1977, and Mark Tavernier and Denis Robison to Editor, DU, 12 Oct. 1977); “Phony Linestanders Give In,” DU, 12 Oct. 1977; “Ticket Sales Reported Good,” DU, 19 Oct. 1977.

40. “BYU Says No to Earth, Wind and Fire,” SEP, 18 Jan. 1982; “Peter, Paul and Mary May Perform Before Sparse Marriott Crowd,” DU, 10 Nov. 1982; “Low Sales Cancel Concert,” DU, 11 Nov. 1982; “School Reputation on the Line with Questionable Rock Band,” DU, 31 Jan. 1984; Carolyn Hudson Ethington to Editor, DU, 6 Feb.

41. “Trouble Plagues Boy George at Y,” DU, 27 March 1984; Bruce Stocks, David P. S. Mack, and Phillip Carey to Editor, DU, 3 April 1984; Brett Nielson and David Enfield to Editor, DU, 3 April 1984. See also “Boy George Ban Embarrasses BYU,” DU, 29 March 1984, Kent Wallace to Editor, DU, 29 March 1984, and Warren John Tenney to Editor, DU, 3 April 1984. “Y Mulls Status of Boy George,” Salt Lake Tribune, 20 April 1984; editorial cartoon, DU, 16 Aug. 1984. For related incidents, see “Guy George Band Not Welcome at Y,” DU, 22 March 1984, and “Director Bans ‘Culture Club’ Theme,” DU, 14 March 1984. “BYU Students Petition After TV ‘Censorship,'” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Feb. 1985, and “Apartments Vote to Keep MTV,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Feb. 1985.

42. Wheelwright to A. Harold Goodman et al., 8 May 1969, UA 567b; Doris B. Cannon to Lael J. Woodbury, 16 Feb. 1977, copy in authors’ possession; “Jazz Altered to Rock,” DU, 20 Nov. 1970; “Audience Eavesdrops on Jazz-Rock Ensemble,” DU, 15 Feb. 1974; “Improvisation Synthesis’ Key,” DU, 28 March 1979; “Music Department Neglects Pop,” SEP, 6 Oct. 1981; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, 28 Sept. 1982; BYU 3:391-93; “Music Competition Endowment,” BYU Today, Dec. 1983.

43. “Campus Radio Station Commercializes Programs,” DU, 13 Jan. 1949; Banyan, 1947, p. 180; BYU 3:661-66; Tom Taylor and Eric Backman to Editor, DU, 8 Feb. 1978; Heber G. Wolsey to Earl J. Glade, 24 May 1971, UA 282a; Monson to Wolsey, 28 May 1971, UA 282a; “Homosexual Series Canceled,” DU, 12 Aug. 1982; “KBYU Canceled Gay Documentary,” Sunstone Review, Sept. 1982; “Campus Chatter,” SEP, Oct. 1982; Mark S. Simpson to Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Nov. 1984. Three years earlier, KBYU television was awarded a national Mark of Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists for its five-part series on inflation (“Journalism Students Earn National Honors,” DU, 12 Oct. 1979; “Broadcaster Wins Award of $1,000,” DU, 7 Sept. 1984). For a similar incident at church-owned Salt Lake City television station KSL four years earlier, which also involved Louise Degn, see “KSL Cuts Documentary and Stirs Up Newsroom,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Nov. 1978.

44. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century church responses to dancing are in Davis Bitton, “‘These Licentious Days:’ Dancing Among the Mormons,” Sunstone, Spring 1977, pp. 16-27, and Georganne B. Arrington, “Mormonism: The Dancingest Denomination,” Century 2, Fall 1980, pp. 42-56. The comments from Reynolds, Cannon, Deseret News, Juvenile Instructor, and First Presidency are in Bitton, “Licentious Days,” pp. 19, 21, 24-25, 17.

45. “Attraction,” BYU Student, 3 Feb. 1891; “The Banquet,” BYA Student, 10 Feb. 1891; Z. B. Decker, Jr., to Benjamin Cluff, 6 Sept. 1897, Cluff Papers.

46. Arrington, “Dancingest Denomination,” p. 50; Marva Hodson Gregory, “The Life and Educational Contributions of Eugene Lusk Roberts,” M.S. thesis, University of Utah, 1952, pp. 113-18.

47. LDS Social Advisory Committee Minutes, 29 Sept. 1919, Church Archives. See also Thomas G. Alexander, “Between Revivalism and the Social Gospel: The Latter-day Saint Social Advisory Committee, 1916-22,” BYU Studies, Winter 1983, p. 31. Arrington, “Dancingest Denomination,” p. 53; “School Diary,” 29 Nov. 1919, Banyan, 1920, p. 151; Banyan, 1920, p. 162; Arrington, “Dancingest Denomination,” pp. 50-51.

48. Faculty Minutes, 17 Jan. 1927 (cf. 14 Feb. 1927); La Relle Nelson, “No Dance Programs!” Improvement Era, May 1937, pp. 292-93; Harold E. Van Wagenen, Oral History, 19 March 1974, p. 8, BYUA; “Student Council Disapproves New ‘Club 400,'” YN, 26 Feb. 1948; Board of Trustees Minutes, 29 April 1959. University trustees later reiterated this policy when the subject of Utah valley discos arose in the late 1970s (Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 19 Jan. 1979).

49. Arrington, “Dancingest Denomination,” pp. 53-54; “Professors Critique Dance Crazes,” DU, 3 Jan. 1962.

50. Dick Grotepas to Editor, DU, 2 May 1963. The First Presidency’s statement had been drafted in August and was quoted in “Executive Council Votes to Abolish ‘Fad’ Dances,” DU, 5 Oct. 1965. Wilkinson, “Make Honor Your Standard,” 23 Sept. 1965, in Speeches, 1965-66; “Stomps, Matinee Dances to be Cut, But Not Killed,” DU, 28 Sept. 1965; “Executive Council Votes to Abolish `Fad’ Dances,” DU; BYU 3:331; “BYU ‘Fad Dance’ Issue Rates National Look,” DU, 6 Oct. 1965. Wilkinson hoped to encourage a “proper example” by assigning couples to set the appropriate mood at school dances. Students unfamiliar with the approved dances would be told that administrators could arrange dancing lessons for them. These proposals appear in “Address to the Brigham Young University Student Body,” 23 Sept. 1965, in Wilkinson file, BYUA, but with the marginal comment in Wilkinson’s hand: “Not Read.”

51. Wilkinson Journal, 16, 18, 22, 28 Oct., 1 Nov. 1965.

52. Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 18 Nov. 1965; “What About the Stomp?” DU, 23 Nov. 1965; “New Policy Revealed,” DU, 24 Nov. 1965.

53. Wilkinson, letter draft for McKay to Jamie Chandler, 24 Nov. 1965, and Wilkinson to Middlemiss, 26 Nov. 1965, copies in authors’ possession; “President McKay Gives Official Dance Policy,” DU, 3 Dec. 1965; R. Brent Bentley, “BYU Dance Survey,” 11 March 1966, in ASBYU Student Body History, 1965-67.

54. “Posture-pedic Dancing?” DU, 14 Oct. 1968; “Rock, Not Conventional, Best-Attended Dances,” DU, 6 Dec. 1974; “New Wave Rocks Y,” DU, 19 Sept. 1980.

55. Arrington, “Dancingest Denomination,” p. 54; “‘Messiah:’ Daring Departure,” DU, 16 Dec. 1974; Holland to Ballif, 8 June 1981, copy in authors’ possession; “Dance,” Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Feb. 1984; BYU 4:363-70; “Millions See Young Ambassadors,” BYU Today, Sept. 1973; “Oaks Views Impact,” DU, 1 Aug. 1978; “Y.A.’s,” DU, 12 June 1980. Cf. Joseph Smith to Editor, Dialogue, Summer 1974, p. 4. Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, 14 Dec. 1979; J. Dupont, “BYU Performing Groups: For Whom?” Sunstone Review, Feb. 1984, pp. 8-9. BYU’s A Capella Choir received first place honors in two international competitions in Wales and Austria (“A Capella Wins Contest,” Alumnus, Oct. 1968, and BYU 4:376).

56. BYU 2:279, 282, 622; 3:87, 226-27, 246, 378; “Humanities Evaluates Need for Ph.D. Program,” SEP, 11 Jan. 1983.

57. Bruce W. Jorgenson, “Digging the Foundation: Making and Reading Mormon Literature,” Dialogue, Winter 1974, p. 56; Cindy Lesser Larsen, “Whoever Heard of a Utah Poet?: An Overview of Poetry in the Early Church,” Century 2, Fall 1979, p. 48; Stephen Kent Ehat, “How to Condemn Noxious Novels–by Brigham Young,” Century 2, Dec. 1976, pp. 36-49; Pamela Gillie Carson and Lavina Fielding Anderson, “Mormon Mushies: The Wonderful World of the Sugar-Coated,” Sunstone Review, July 1982, p. 30; Pamela Gillie Carson and Lavina Fielding Anderson, “Mormon Mushies, Part IV: Epic Agony-Mormon Historical Romances,” Suntsone Review, Oct. 1982, p. 25; Arrington and Bitton, Mormon Experience, pp. 330-32. One notable exception to this trend in Mormon fiction is Levi S. Peterson, The Canyons of Grace (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).

58. Whitney, in Jorgensen, “Digging,” p. 50; Marshall, quoted in “Art in the Church,” Century 2, p. 8; Cassity, “Shakespeares of Our Own,” DU, 26 Jan. 1976.

59. Thayer, in Bruce W. Jorgensen, “Two Mormon Writers,” BYU Today, April 1977, pp. 16-17; Packer, “The Arts and the Spirit of the Lord,” p. 584; “The Mormon and the World,” SEP, 11 Nov. 1981; “Censorship at Y Debated,” DU, 16 April 1982; “Center for Study of Christian Values,” DU, 28 Oct. 1980; Martha Nibley, “A Tale of Two Universities,” BYU Today, Nov. 1982, p. 3. “At times some of us down here [do] feel `muzzled,'” confessed BYU playwright Thomas F. Rogers. “Even if some little old lady in tennis shoes doesn’t report us, we feel guilty, assuming that, in the eyes of those we serve and really want to please, her `truth’ is somehow already vindicated, as ours won’t be. . . . In our care not to offend,” he continued, “we deprive [the student body of many] meaningful, . . . in-depth, aesthetic and life probing experiences” (Rogers to Douglas D. Alder, 26 July 1976, copy in authors’ possession).

60. “And Won’t Librarian Ollerton Be Surprised When,” YN, 11 Sept. 1936; Thomas, Minutes of a Meeting, 13 June 1970, BYUA; “The Locked Case,” SEP, 15 Dec. 1981; “J. Golden Oldies,” Centennial Free Press, 7 April 1975; Robert M. Donaldson to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 23 April 1962 (see also John T. Bernhard to S. Lyman Tyler, 1 May 1962, and Tyler to Donaldson, 10 May 1962, UA 549a); Gloria Burrows to Wilkinson, 21 Sept. 1962 (see also Bernhard to Tyler, 15 Oct. 1962, UA 549a); Darrel J. Monson, Summary of Meeting with Robert K. Thomas, 15 Feb. 1975, 24 March 1975, UA 282a.

61. Deans’ Council Minutes, 9 March 1953; Ben E. Lewis, Minutes of a Meeting With Ernest L. Wilkinson, 23 Oct. 1970, BYUA; “Academic Freedom at BYU,” DU, 22 Feb. 1977; Regis Melvin to Editor, DU, 26 Sept. 1973; Bell, “Censorship–A Paradox,” DU, 15 Oct. 1973; “Advisor On Books Appointed,” DU, 12 Sept. 1974; “Censoring BYU’s Bookstore: An Interview With Linda Brummett,” Sunstone Review, Oct. 1982, pp. 19, 29.

62. “Academic Freedom at BYU,” DU, 22 Feb. 1977.

63. Packer to Oaks, 8 Nov. 1978; Cracroft to Sorenson, 16 Nov. 1978; Sorenson to Oaks, 16 Nov. 1978; Oaks to Packer, 21 Nov. 1978. Copies in authors’ possession.

64. Nita Wakefield, “College Bells, Christmas Bells and Dumb- bells,” The Scratch, 1 Dec. 1929; Elmer Peterson, “Hurdles in Religion,” The Scratch, March 1930; The Wye, June 1946 (cf. March 1939 and April 1941); The Wye, Spring 1947 and Spring 1950; The Wye, Spring 1966.

65. Jack Davies, “I’m and We’re,” and “Sense and Nonsense,” both in The Wye, March 1939; Duane L. Madsen, “Albert Schweitzer: A Tribute,” The Wye, Fall 1965; Howard Robinson, “The Death and Burial of a Sinner Who Drowned at the Beach While Swimming on the Sabbath in the Blue Coastal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” The Wye, Fall 1972.

66. Grover R. Howe, “Illegitimate,” Dennis Sharp, “The Conversion of Saul,” and Kent Walgren, “The Reaper,” in The Wye, Spring 1971; Wilkinson Journal, 20 May 1971; The Wye, Spring 1972. Graduate students in the College of Humanities published their own literary magazine, Perspective, beginning in spring 1968, but most submissions were literary criticism of limited appeal. The last issue appeared in September 1977.

67. “Journal Delayed,” DU, 9 Sept. 1976; Lisa Muehley, “The Inherent Superiority of Southern California,” Century 2, Dec. 1976, pp. 1-2; Craig Whatcott, “The Trapping Mechanism in the Venus Flytrap,” Century 2, Feb. 1977; Janis Pendleton, “There’s An Orangutan on My Refrigerator!” Century 2, Winter 1981, pp. 162-64; David John Buerger, “Brigham Young University: The Unvarnished Reality,” Century 2, Fall 1979, pp. 28-34; Scott Dunn and Ralph Bradford, “Joseph $mith for Profit,” Century 2, Feb. 1977, pp. 2-3; Oaks to Cracroft, 4 April 1977, copy in authors’ possession; Cracroft to Don Norton, faculty advisor to Century 2, 5 April 1977, copy in authors’ possession; Rita Ann Best, “The Other Self,” Century 2, Fall 1979, p. 62; Cindy Lesser, “Pinball,” Century 2, Winter 1979, p. 51.

68. Stacy Burton, “Gadamer’s Theory of Openness: Toward Hermaneutic Education,” Inscape, Spring 1982, pp. 4-15; Nancy Bernbrock, “Proceedings of the November Meeting of the Society for Mythopoeic Psychoanalysis and Monday Night Football,” Inscape, Fall/Winter 1983, pp. 76-83; Robert Lauer, “Digger: Scene Seven,” Inscape, Spring 1982, pp. 45-53; Bryce Rytting, untitled, Inscape, Fall/Winter 1983, p. 43; “Insight to be Available,” DU, 5 April 1984; Allyson Pingree, “Leslie Norris: The Utterly Simple Poet,” Lynne Wilkins and Renata Tonks, “Women and Education: Perceptions of the BYU Community,” and Clark Nielsen, Chris Cahoon, and Gordon Clay, “The Forgotten War,” all three in Insight, April 1984.

69. “The State of the Arts: Four Views,” BYU Today, June 1984, pp. 18-24. See also the discussion in Michael Hicks, “Eternity, Capacity, and the Will: Three Puzzles for a Mormon Aesthetics,” and in Levi S. Peterson, “Overhauling Mormon Aesthetics,” Sunstone, Jan./April 1983, pp. 8-14.